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Create jobs to help the youth overcome challenges that lead to insecurity

OPINION
By Suleiman Shahbal | September 27th 2021

Suleiman Shahbal. [File, Standard]

Mombasa is Kenya's melting pot and reflects the face of Kenya. Whatever problems we see in Mombasa are either all over the country or will soon be at your doorsteps.

At one time, surveys highlighted unemployment as our biggest problem but today insecurity is the biggest challenge. sadly, the insecurity is caused by youth gangs, some as young as 10 years old.

There are some areas of Mombasa where shops close before it gets dark. Parents, community leaders and even the police have given up. Arrest a few and they are soon replaced by many more. How did we get to this point?  What causes a 10-year-old child to pick up a panga?

We face a new problem of what we call “boda boda” pregnancies. Too many girls will exchange sex for Sh50 to buy sanitary pads. We don’t want to talk about it because we are talking about our own daughters – but if we don’t want to talk about it now, then we will soon be talking about unplanned grandchildren who come too early, and watch our poor children being dragged unknowingly into premature parenthood.

The number of street children is increasing. What do you expect from kids who grow up on the streets where violence is the norm other than violence in return?

Drug addiction has always been a problem. At least drugs are illegal and more difficult to get but these days a cheap and lethal miraa called “mogoka” is slowly, but surely addicting our youth – and its perfectly legal. Meru’s cash cow has become our daily nightmare.

The cause of all these problems is poverty. The avenues for the youth to make a decent living, let alone make any serious money, are rapidly closing. Too many of our kids are becoming dropouts because the parents lack school fees. Too many kids now find themselves forced to fend for themselves or to support their parents by finding any sort of employment. The rates of school failure and dropout is amongst the highest in the country.

We have too many University graduates with no jobs and there is now an alarming loss of hope in education. Education that we all believed would be the great equalizer seems to have failed as well. There is a loss of faith in the future and a growing sense of hopelessness

These disturbing social problems have even more devastating long-term implications. There is need for increased public discussion and to raise awareness among the youth and parents now. Simple actions like the supply of pads should be prioritised.

It is no longer a sanitary issue but one that leads to unwanted pregnancies and its myriad complications. A budget of Sh30 million per year will provide sanitary pads for all the girls in Mombasa for a whole year. Definitely cheaper than the cost of resultant problems.

If we don’t create jobs, we risk the entire social fabric of our societies and invite violence at our doorsteps. The politics of 2022 should focus on job creation first. All our social problems have economic roots and only by finding economic solutions will be solve these social problems.

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