At least one million Kenyans have lost their jobs or have been put on indefinite unpaid leave months after the Covid-19 pandemic found its way into the country, resulting a major jobs crisis.
The worst-hit formal sectors are in the tourism, transport, horticulture, communication and education as millions of learners languish at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the informal sector accounts for 83 per cent of the labour force in the country.
This sector too was hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. Most of the workers in the informal sector who operate under a high degree of vulnerability, resulting in small and unpredictable incomes, poor working conditions and low productivity are now reeling from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic which has rendered thousands of them jobless.
But a group of youths from Majengo area in Trans mara West have decided to come together and face the situation head-on and ensure they remain afloat during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The group of youths who were previously employed and now jobless due to Covid- 19 pandemic have decided that this pandemic will not limit them from fending for their respective families and themselves.
Tony Vandetta a before the invasion of the pandemic was working as a local event organizer (late night discos and vocational-based events), however, now this could no longer be possible as public gatherings where he was earning income were banned as part of Covid-19 containment measures.
Derrick Kisilwa who was working at the Transmara Sugar Company as the farm attendant before the pandemic, has been the leader of Nguvu Moja self-help groups and narrates how after he lost his job, he decided to focus in giving back to his society through the help of his group members.
The group calling itself Nguvu Moja in Swahili (meaning one power) came together three months ago and initiated multiple projects that have helped them to stay afloat during this times and what is more interesting about this group is that they have been volunteering on a part-time basis to do partial repairs on the damaged feeder roads and feeling potholes in the area so as to ease transport in the villages in the area.
“We discovered that our brothers on the other side of the hustle such as bodaboda riders have been facing challenges going through the potholes risking their passengers lives, particularly when it rains,’’ he said.
As a remedy, this group decided to fill up the potholes and in return when the road repair is done the bodaboda operators give token of appreciation.
Apart from the part-time road repairs these youngsters have also constructed a fish pond ready to be filled with variety of fish, brick making and a tree nursery project.
All these are done on a small farm offered to them by a well-wisher who decided to help them put their creativity into work after they opened up to him, requesting for his assistance as the could not afford to pay for the lease,
Shelter on top of a tree
The team of ten then decided to build their new home on top of a tree to ensure they use up their donated space maximally.
Creatively, they built the new shelter with one floor on top of the other and completed the roofing with thatched savannah grass.
The down stairs is their dining room and kitchen incorporated while upstairs is their rest room, they then secured a balcony to watch the sunset.
A 70 feet long, 35 feet wide and four feet deep fish pond has also been constructed ready to be filled with a variety of fish, a tree and flower nursery with variety of indigenous trees and flowers is blossoming on the farm.
However, another challenge is in securing enough sheath of papers for planting tree seedlings and are calling upon well-wishers to come up and assist them.
The group is also looking for assistance to by fingerlings and feed for their ready fishpond.
They have tried to reach out to local leaders to support them materially and financially with no success, they have written multiple proposals to various entities but none has been forthcoming.
The decline in job opportunities and hard economic time also led to an increase in crime and other anti-social behaviour among the youth.
Kisilwa says their intention is to keep as many youths as possible in the area occupied in the activities they intend to do, saying this has started bearing fruits as crime level is already declining.
Thanks to this group, crime rate in the community has reduced as their peers emulate and join them in what they are doing instead of choosing the easy way to wayward behaviours.
“We would have been lost deep in crime, drugs or even alcoholism if we didn’t come up with this project,’’ Simon Kuya, one of the members said.
The community too, is full of praise for this initiative by the youth and appealed on both the County and the National Government to support the program.
“Now that we are seeing our sons are busy doing something constructive, we are really sure that the government’s fight against crime will be easier,” Juma Gachie, a village elder said.
The group which is yet to make any substantial income from the project as it is in its initial stages intend to use the projects as a launching pad where they expect to get capital from in the next few months.
This will help them engage in other bigger projects such as purchase of motorcycles for boda boda business and recruit more youth with an aim of forming a thriving cooperative society.
They are appealing to the Government and other sponsors to assist them realise their dreams
By Mabel Keya_shikuku