IMG 3814MMUST hosted the first ever Pre-Devolution Youth Conference at the Main Campus Multipurpose Hall on Saturday 21st April 2018. Riding on the theme “Taking Stock of Devolution and its Impact on Youth” while focusing on Kenya’s “Big Four Agenda”, the participants engaged in fruitful discussions that addressed the involvement of youth in the devolved governance system in Kenya, which is now on its 5th year. 

The Governor of Kakamega County, H.E. Hon. Wycliffe Oparanya, who was the Chief Guest, indicated that his government had developed a department to specifically deal with youth affairs. ‘We will make sure that the department deals fully with youth affairs and ensures that the youth are involved in decision-making processes.’

Identifying national unity as a pillar in development, the Governor said, “The ‘Handshake’ between His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga has been important in uniting Kenyans, and the youth should focus on unity for prosperity of this Nation. A lot will be discussed on national unity during the 5th National Devolution Conference at Kakamega High School.”

Governor Oparanya emphasized the need to create better methods of engaging the underprivileged youth, especially those from the rural areas and give unconditional support to youth living with disabilities. He decried the lack of focus and wastage of investment opportunities in actualizing well-intended initiatives that his county government has been offering to the youth. “The problem is sometimes the youth; we try to help you, but you do not try to help yourselves,” said the Governor. He advised the youth to undergo a development process that will make them grow into respectable leaders, rather than looking for shortcuts to leadership and prosperity. Hailing the establishment of the Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital, that would be utilized for training by the new MMUST School of Medicine, the Governor said that Kakamega was becoming a better place through urbanization.

In his address, the Governor of Nyeri County, H.E. Hon. Mutahi Kahiga, said, “There is no qualification called ‘Youth’ as people of Kenya”. He noted that many youth were not well prepared to access their entitlements as per government policies, and youth should work as registered groups in order to properly engage with government institutions. The Governor said that his government had appointed two youth in their early 30’s to manage key dockets, and advocated for more support to the youth, women and persons living with disabilities. “If you can do better, the world will come to your doorstep,” he told the participants.
First Lady of Bungoma County H.E. Hon. Caroline Wangamati said that she was very passionate about the youth, and advised them to be proactive by taking advantage of Article 55 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in order to access the benefits of devolution. Highlighting on the Big Four Agenda, she particularly cited sexual reproductive health of the youth as a very important area that requires more in terms of resources and effort. “The county governments should come up with a plan of setting up health facilities that are exclusively for the youth, since healthcare is a devolved function,” she said. She added that the youth need to be trained in areas such as Agribusiness, and be helped access information on market linkages.
Kakamega Senator Hon. Cleophas Malala advised the youth to work hard and invest the little time and resources they have to build their lives. He said that the youth are the strength of Kenya and indeed the World, and wondered why they were not making use of their potential. He noted the need to enhance proper decision-making on career choices among the youth, promising to facilitate such a process at MMUST soon.
Pushing for the youth agenda, the Chief Executive Officer for National Youth Council, Mr. Raymond Ochieng, urged the youth to actively participate in the campaign to have them access their honorable status nationally. Through the representatives Michael Asudi (Organization of African Youth) and Brian Okeja (MMUSO President), the youth submitted the “Kakamega Declaration 2018” that puts into focus demands that included involvement in decision-making, increase in opportunities, and fighting corrupt practices that limit youth development.
MMUST Vice Chancellor Professor Eng. Fredrick Otieno, during his opening remarks, stated that universities and other educational institutions are key drivers in actualizing Sustainable Development Goals and Kenya’s Big Four Agenda. He said that MMUST was a leading player in promoting the youth agenda, having previously organized three youth conferences. The VC thanked the National and County government in investing on youth through enhanced access to higher education.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion included Ikolomani MP Hon. Bernard Shinali, CEC for Youth, Sports and Culture Kakamega County Hon. Robert Makhanu, Youth Fund Director Benson Mutemi, Advisor to Youth and Gender Cabinet Secretary Lydia Mathia, and Organization of African Youth Director Churchill Saoke. Key organizers of this event, a precursor of the 5th National Devolution Conference were the Government of Kenya, National Youth Council, Organization of African Youth, Youth in Action, Youth Alive Kenya, IPAS, County Government of Kakamega, County Government of Bungoma and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.




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