1) About You
My name is Ekai Nabenyo, a Youth leader and community mobilizer in Turkana County, Northern Kenya. My community is rated as the most poverty-stricken of all the counties in Kenya having been marginalized for a very long time. The main challenge here is Poverty and Illiteracy among community members and this is what motivated me to establish the youth organization I currently run in my community. With investments in Oil and Gas being established in my community, I wanted to use my legal knowledge gained in law school to empower my people, advocate for community development and against destruction.
2) Your project
Turkana County- the largest of all the 47 counties that make up the Republic of Kenya occupies the North-Western part of the country. With an area of approximately 77,000km2 it shares international borders with Ethiopia to the North, Sudan to the North West and Uganda to the West. Lodwar, which serves as the headquarters of the vast region was established in the year 1919 as an army base for the colonial government and developed into an administrative center in 1939. This is the town that serves as the main business center in the whole county and has experienced more exposure to opportunities like those in other parts of Kenya. However, a huge tragedy exists in the outskirts of Lodwar with a majority of residents engaging in pastoralism despite the harsh conditions of inadequate pasture and water scarcity. Loreng’elup, my home village, located 47 kilometers on the eastern part of Lodwar Town is one such community with a population of approximately Two Thousand (2000) people and with an illiteracy level of more than 80%. With the lowest rainfall in the Republic of Kenya and Africa, life in this part of the world is characterized by substandard living, lack of security, unreliable food and inadequate clean water sources, and generally an overall daily fight for survival. Like many other regions of rural Kenya, the local community has to depend on the philanthropy and charity of friends of goodwill in the form of Non-Governmental Organizations that occasionally distribute relief food which may not always last long. Since time immemorial, the local residents have been passing their days in extreme inhuman conditions with a few engaging in business but with the challenge of initial starting capital. There has been a high level of poverty in the community cemented by low levels of literacy, poor health, malnutrition, wanting educational facilities and depressing environmental and sanitary conditions. Government interventions have always remained traditional yet the conditions of this region demand innovative approaches.
Locodein Community Based Organization is a Youth-led Organization founded in 2013 by three young and ambitious men from Turkana County; myself and two others, inspired by a vision of a society where youth have a powerful voice, knowledge and resources to use that voice to create positive change in their communities. After various years of volunteering during their high school and post high school years with the youth of Turkana County, specifically the youth in the remote areas, the three came to understand the challenges facing young people in Turkana and the Turkana community at large. Based on this first-hand experience and their desire to be the agents of hope in this forgotten community, they crafted a program to empower the young vulnerable youth and provide them with what government and their families were unable to provide: an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty through empowerment. At Locodein Community Based Organization, we place special emphasis on working alongside the youth and poor women because previous data has shown that, supported with the proper resources, women and the youth have the ability to help entire families and communities out of poverty.
Our organization exists to provide the youth with the skills and resources they need to become agents of change in their communities. We do this through capacity-building and leadership workshops, youth summits, community engagements and through the Youth Empowerment Centre that we intend to establish in Lodwar, Turkana County. At Locodein Community Based Organization, we believe that when youth are empowered and capacity-built, they can best fight poverty in their communities. The formation of Locodein Community Based Organization was precipitated by increased socio-economic problems in Turkana County including among others; youth unemployment that has resulted to drug abuse, chronic alcoholism and village crime, cattle rustling due to idleness of the youth, increased economic bondage of the community, increased spread of HIV/AIDS, low levels of access to clean and safe drinking water and underdevelopment generally.
Project Successes, Challenges and Operational Information
The challenge I face is lack of support or cooperation from a majority of the young people we intend to work with to develop our communities. Most of them accept the current state of affairs in my community and are not willing to join us with us in the advocacy work we do. This disconnect has hampered our work. Another challenge is from investors and politicians who do not want to see the community develop and often frustrate our work as they consider an empowered populace a threat to their politics. I have used my leadership skills and networks to mobilize development partners from other parts of Kenya to join us and develop my community through building schools, community libraries, empowering women through micro-finance, planting trees among others. These partnerships have greatly helped our work and we keep bringing more partners on board. We also challenge the community to be in charge of their own development and to rise up to the challenge.
3) Mentoring request
My mentor should help me by challenging me more and giving me more insights in as far as the work I do is concerned. The mentor can also help me by sharing his/her experiences on similar work I do if he or knows of similar projects.
The mentor can also ask me to do particular things differently if they feel that can maximize impact.
4) Links to your work