WASHINGTON, May 4, 2010— The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$60 million credit for Kenya to support unemployed youth in the country.
The Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP) will support the Government of Kenya’s efforts to increase access to youth-targeted temporary employment programs and to improve youth employability.
Youth in Kenya face serious challenges, including high rates of unemployment and underemployment. The overall unemployment rate for youth is double the adult average.
“Kenya, like many other African countries, is struggling to manage a growing population of youth, of whom about one in five are neither in school nor working. While Kenya’s youth can be an asset and a source of growth, if they are neglected or marginalized they can also be a potent source of crime and violence,” says Johannes Zutt, the World Bank’s Country Director for Kenya. “Working with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), among others, the Youth Empowerment project aims to provide disadvantaged unemployed youth with opportunities to acquire training, apprenticeships, and short-term jobs that will improve their long-term employability and transform them into productive members of society.”
The Government has renewed its commitment to addressing youth issues and youth unemployment has emerged as a top priority. The Government developed a “Marshall Plan” for youth unemployment in 2007, emphasizing the importance of a coordinated and multi-sectoral approach to addressing the problem of youth unemployment and youth idleness.
In April 2009, and as part of Kenya’s stimulus package addressing the impacts of the global economic crisis, the Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV) program was launched, aiming to employ youth in rural and urban areas in labor-intensive public works projects implemented by different line ministries.
The KYEP project will focus on three main components: (i) labor-intensive works and social services; (ii) private sector internships and training; and (iii) capacity building and policy development.
“This is the first public works program targeting youth in Africa that has been supported by the World Bank. In addition, the second component is highly innovative, using KEPSA as the implementing agency to ensure adequate links with the private sector and promote sustainability of the project activities,” says Task Team Leader, Yasser El-Gammal. “This project will be an important opportunity to create lessons for possible expansion and replication elsewhere in Africa.”
The credit is approved on standard terms of a 40-year maturity with a 10-year grace period provided by the International Development Association (IDA)—the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm.