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Feature: Unemployment lures youth into terrorism in Kenya

19 April 2016, 13:54

Nakuru (Xinhua) -- Studies released since the beginning of this year on the state of youth unemployment in Kenya, has not shown any sigh of relief to a growing population of the working age but not productively engaged.

More worrying is that a majority of them could do anything to generate money and wealth regardless of its legality as long as they are not caught.

This is one of the findings included in the "The Kenya Youth Survey Report" released by the Aga Khan University's East African Institute in January.

A total of 1,854 rural and urban Kenyan youth were involved in the survey and half of them professed to the rather distressing reality.

But this distressing reality is now connecting to one of the main factors luring the youth into joining Al- Shabaab, the Somali linked terror group which in the recent years has caused much pain to Kenyan families.

A State of National Security Annual Report to Parliament (2016) indicates that the terror group is capitalizing on unemployment and marginalization to recruit the youth from universities and secondary schools.

They have also widened their scope from the coastal and northern areas to Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley regions.

In his view, Professor George Gongera, an expert in human resource development and macroeconomics, rural areas are also fertile grounds for recruitment due to high levels of poverty, disillusionment and hopelessness.

"When the youths lose hope in the present and the future, they offer to sacrifice their lives for something that will bring food to the table," argued Professor Gongera in an interview with Xinhua on Monday.

"Life is becoming extremely unbearable for everybody as the economy hardens and the people in the rural areas and the students are even the worst hit. This increases their vulnerability to terrorist activities," he says.

He says countries which have managed to control terrorist activities have tagged economic inclusivity in all its development policies, strategies and action plans.

Disconnect between government and the needs of the vulnerable groups offers an open space for assimilating activities harmful to the society and progress of a nation, he says.

"In Belgium and France, for instance, those who have engaged in terrorist activities have pointed to economic exclusiveness. Simply, they have no means of survival. And they need a solution. They want someone to listen to them. That's what the government needs to offer them," he says.

He warns that until the Kenyan economy offers favourable conditions for survival and hope for equity in access to resources, then rates of unemployed youth and students joining terror groups is unlikely to decline.

The overall rate of inflation, which reflects a country's state of economy, stood at 6.45 percent in March against the 6.31 percent in the same month last year.

This reflects a 9.41 percent change in cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks topped up with a 3.45 change in the cost of housing, water, electricity and fuels; the essentials that make up the life of an ordinary Kenyan.

For instance, a 120 grams fruit cake that sold at 1.15 dollars in 2014 is now selling at 1.7 dollars as a result of increasing cost of ingredients; a change that is replicated in the necessary household commodities.

"Hopelessness is dangerous to an economy. But a solution can only be found if an environment that enables everyone to generate a sustainable income is created," advises Gongera.

- Xinhua


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