Equipping Young Minds: KIPPRA-CIP Empowers Youth in Policy-Making

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    CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies
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The youth bulge is a phenomenon common in many developing countries and Kenya is no exception. In Kenya’s demographic, the youthful population constitutes a higher percentage compared to other age groups, whereby 29% is between the ages 18 and 34. This youthful population has implications for the different aspects of society, it is therefore important to harness this potential for the country to achieve various developmental objectives. It would be remiss for policymakers not to tap into the potential of the youth to achieve national development and address societal challenges such as food and nutrition insecurity, income poverty, inequality, economic marginalization, and political challenges.

It is in this regard that the International Potato Center and Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis have partnered and organized an in-depth and comprehensive training program on the public policy-making process, policy briefs, blogs, and negotiation skills, that target the youth. The program ran for four weeks, starting 12th Feb 2024 to 8th March 2024. The participants were divided into two groups and each group went through a two-week intensive workshop. It was a hybrid program designed for both virtual and in-person participants and aimed to equip the 50 youths with essential public policy-making knowledge and skills. This joint initiative is part of the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS), which focuses on addressing policy demands and crises through evidence-based policymaking approaches and building policy communities of practice at the country level around common themes. This training program ensured that the participants gained the right skills, attitudes, and behaviours to deliver on future policy development and system transformation strategies that will influence national policies and beyond. 

The program focused on youth from various university clubs and associations and aimed to equip them by developing and strengthening their skills through intensive training on the public policy-making process, enhancing their negotiation skills to be able to interact with policymakers and leave a transformative impact. The program also enabled them to craft persuasive policy briefs and build their blog writing skills. Additionally, the participants actively engaged in the practical application of their skills, with the facilitators guiding them through the development of policy briefs, with a specific focus on interventions within the Five key areas outlined in the government’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). The specific thematic areas that were focused on in the training are Agricultural transformation and inclusive growth; Micro, small, and medium enterprises; Housing and settlement; Healthcare; Digital superhighway and creative industry.

The targeted outcomes of this initiative were to enhance the policy analysis skills of the participants, encourage the active participation of young people in the public policy-making process in line with the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS)’s goals and the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda, and develop their ability to analyze complex issues and provide actionable recommendations, thus enabling them to have a say on national issues. This program not only helps to improve the participants’ skills but also provides a platform for them to make meaningful contributions to public policy and sustainable development.

“Having attended the policymaking training, I believe that young people should be engaged in policymaking to ensure their representation and recognize their innovative contributions as this fosters a sense of responsibility and builds a more inclusive and sustainable future. The youth are not only the torchbearers of the future but also the architects of today. She emphasizes the importance of unlocking the power of the youth in policymaking.”  said Jacinta Mwaniza, a student leader at Kirinyaga University.

Another highlight of the training was the policy brief writing competition which gave the participants a platform to showcase their creativity and analytical prowess by coming up with policy briefs aligned with the national government agendas. The competition gave them a chance to contribute their unique perspectives on the identified thematic areas of BETA, and facilitated knowledge exchange, creating a platform for the youth to share ideas. Through this, the participants gained practical experience and received recognition for their contributions while also refining their communication skills, promoting diverse perspectives, and gaining networking opportunities. The winners were not only awarded for their writing prowess but also for their insights on the policy-making process and BETA.

Through this KIPPRA-CIP program, the youth get a platform to be part of the discussion and get the skills and knowledge to navigate through the complexities of policy and policymaking at the national level and beyond. This program lays the foundation for a more inclusive and sustainable future in line with the goals of the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS) and the participants emerge as change drivers and informed and capable advocates of evidence-based policymaking. Looking to the future we encourage policymakers, stakeholders, and partners to join us in supporting youth engagement and championing an inclusive future of policymaking. We also encourage the youth to take advantage of this opportunity and join the program.

Leonard Kirui, Senior Manager NRS, SSA Operations, Kenya, International Potato Center (CIP)
Joyce Maru, Regional Director for Africa (a.i.), International Potato Center (CIP)
Sheewa Saikah, Consultant, CIP-NPS

This work is part of the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS). CGIAR launched NPS with national and international partners to build policy coherence, respond to policy demands and crises, and integrate policy tools at national and subnational levels in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CGIAR centers participating in NPS are The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Potato Center (CIP), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and WorldFish. We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund 

Photo credit:  Sheewa Saikah/CIP-NPS

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