In 2007 I spent an exciting year at IDS pursuing my master’s in Science, Society and Development. I applied for this course whilst working at an international environmental think tank because it resonated with my belief that we needed to create space for different voices to be heard when addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. For me, environmental policies stood out as a critical issue.
Where are all the young people?
After graduating, I returned to my previous place of work at the African Centre for Technology Studies
, which is also a valued research partner of IDS in Kenya. From there, in 2009 I was granted a full scholarship to participate in the adaptation negotiation team towards reaching a climate change deal in Copenhagen. I was one of only five from Africa granted this scholarship by the German Environment Ministry through Germanwatch
. Although this experience was valuable and fulfilling, I was again concerned to see that young people’s voices were missing from the conversation.
The Kiota Initiative
These experiences influenced my drive to establish my own organisation. In late 2018, having discussed my ideas and concerns with actors from the Environment ministry, African Development Bank, the United Nations, and youth clubs in Kenya, I created the Kiota Initiative
. Kiota is a Swahili word, meaning nest in English. We are a community based organisation that aims to empower youth to have a say in issues that affect them, and to gain skills through creative and participatory methods. We have 15 fantastic volunteer staff and operate in Nakuru, Nairobi, Siaya, Baringo and West Pokot counties, Kenya, but have ambitions to operate in all 47 counties. We work to the values of honest, creativity, innovation, hard work and appreciation of the environment.
Influenced by my time at IDS, Kiota adopts an action research approach, using art-based techniques to meet our objectives. Evidence and experience have found that these techniques are particularly effective in empowering young people to express their views. For example, we develop and use murals, cartoon books, concerts and participatory development methods to facilitate discussions and build skills. There are a number of youth centred organizations operating like Kiota in Kenya, however we are unique in the sense that we adopt a hybrid model that encompasses for profit and not-for-profit under one roof. We believe that we should not work for but with the youths by creating space for them.
In a global scenario, Kiota is part of the increasing voices of young people such as Greta Thunberg seeking not only inclusivity, but voices to be heard and action taken by policy makers on critical issues affecting them.
Our current projects include:
- Zinduka Pamoja project, working with young people through environmental clubs in schools and colleges
- Inuka Sasa project, working with out of school youths to build their skills and develop enterprises by championing successful enterprise start-ups and mentoring
- The Tap Talent Programme which uses participatory, art-based tools to mentor young people and enable them to develop and identify their own skills and strengths
- Kizazi mentorship programme working with boys aged 13-19 years through a period of 4 years on citizenship and their role of in society.
We are currently developing and seeking partnerships with county governments, civil society, private sector, technical and vocational training institutes. We look forward to sharing our progress with you in the future!For more information contact: Andrew Ochieng Adwera, Founder +254704893718 or firstname.lastname@example.org