The National Hygiene Programme, more commonly known as the Kazi Mtaani initiative, is offering much needed opportunities to those young people left jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme is designed to both rejuvenate urban spaces and make sure that young people have gainful employment. When President Uhuru Kenyatta launched it in May, he stated that the goal was to invest in 200,000 young people across the country through an initial investment of Sh10 billion.
This is a great way to break what would otherwise be an inevitable cycle of unemployment, vulnerability, poverty and hopelessness.
It is hard to believe that Covid-19 has been a global pandemic for less than half a year. When we started 2020, we had different things in mind.
Kenya was well on its way to achieving the President’s Big Four development agenda and it seemed like our country was truly on the right track to becoming economically prosperous. But many unpredictable things happen in life, and when they do, we must be adaptable.
This kind of flexibility is one of the top characteristics necessary in a good leader. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Adaptation is the key to constant progression and avoiding stagnation.
That is exactly what the Kazi Mtaani initiative offers at this crucial moment. While many young people might be frustrated that they are not finding employment directly in their field upon graduating, they are not the only ones. Their peers all over the world, from Asia to South America, from North America to Australia, have found themselves in the same predicament.
The difference between Kenya and many of those nations, however, is that our leadership has found a way to be resourceful by creating jobs and at the same time do something for the country.
The programme aims to hire people at the local level to clean up and rejuvenate public spaces. It restores the country’s public hygiene standard and enhances environmental cleanliness as well as urban public works.
In addition to this, teaching the next generation of Kenya’s leaders the value of shared spaces and urban order is a commendable way to ensure that when they rise to being leaders in business, politics, and education, they will have a good head on their shoulders and be grounded in their communities.
Investing in Kazi Mtaani is a small price to pay for such a big return in the future. It has been a long time since many of our towns and cities got the facelift they need.
The ravages of time have taken their toll on some of Kenya’s most bustling urban centres, and they need modernisation. It is about time our towns and cities become clean and green. If Singapore can achieve such significant modernisation by pooling diverse talents and working with one goal in mind, there is no reason why
Kenya should not be able to achieve the same.
Sustainability is not merely a passing fad in Kenya. It is a lifestyle. Looking out for the environment is part of everything we do as Kenyans, in one of the most wildlife diverse countries on earth.
For many years, protecting the animals that roam freely in our parks has been a hallmark of Kenyan policy. But until the launch of the National Hygiene Programme, we were not paying as much attention to how clean our cities are.
This is surprising, seeing as how tourism accounts for such a large share of our GDP and how so many plants and flowers can grow freely here. It might have taken a global health pandemic to change this, but it is always a good thing to think of the silver lining.
Rather than waiting listlessly at home and hoping for more jobs to open up, young people have been productively spending 2020 getting in touch with their communities, and making them better for generations to come.
And when more employment opportunities arise in the coming years, they will draw upon the skills they picked up this year to make them better employees in other industries – whether it be hightech, engineering, education, law or anything else that requires both their brains and their willpower.