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Innovative Community Development: CICAD Approach.

Innovative Community Development: CICAD Approach.


Community development activities encompass a wide range of initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life and well-being of people within a community. Here are several examples of activities aimed at community development. Innovative community development involves thinking outside the box and leveraging creative approaches to address local challenges and improve quality of life. Here are some activities that CICAD leverages to foster innovative community development:

Community workshops and training programs

CICAD Organizes workshops and training sessions on topics such as financial literacy, job skills, entrepreneurship, health education, and sustainable practices can empower community members with valuable knowledge and skills.

Social entrepreneurship and Microfinance

CICAD supports local entrepreneurs through microfinance initiatives, business incubators, and access to markets to stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities within the community. Establish community-based incubators or accelerators that support aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. Provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help individuals or teams turn their ideas into viable businesses or initiatives that benefit the community.

Community Gardens and Urban Farming

CICAD supports the marginalized communities in developing community gardens or urban farming initiatives that promote food security, environmental sustainability, and community engagement. Encourages communities to participate in gardening activities, workshops on organic farming, and food-sharing events. Creating community gardens not only promotes sustainable living and healthy eating but also fosters a sense of community ownership and collaboration.

Social Impact investing

CICAD Facilitates social impact investing initiatives that attract funding for community-driven projects with a focus on social, environmental, and economic impact. Connect investors, philanthropic organizations, and social enterprises to support innovative ventures that address community needs.

Youth Development programs

CICAD Offers after-school programs, mentorship opportunities, leadership training, and recreational activities for young people can help them develop essential life skills and become active contributors to their communities.

Cultural and Artistic Initiatives

CICAD promotes cultural events, art exhibitions, music festivals, and theater productions which not only enriches community life but also attracts visitors and boosts the local economy. This also include

Environment Conservation Projects

CICAD engages in environmental conservation efforts such as tree planting, waste management, water conservation, and renewable energy projects can improve environmental sustainability and resilience within the community.

Community advocacy and Civic engagements

CICAD support and encourages active participation in local governance, advocating for community needs and rights, and fostering dialogue between residents and policymakers can empower communities to address social and political challenges.

Intercommunity Collaboration

CICAD promotes Collaboration between communities, NGOs, government agencies, and businesses can leverage resources and expertise to implement larger-scale community development projects and initiatives.

Workforce Development

CICAD supports collaboration between communities and employers, educational institutions, and training providers to ensure that community members have the skills and qualifications needed for available jobs. Offer vocational training, apprenticeships, and job placement services.

Small Business Support

CICAD provides training, mentorship, and access to resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. This can include workshops on business planning, financial management, marketing, and access to microfinance or small business loans

Local procurement initiatives

CICAD provides training, mentorship, and access to resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. This can include workshops on business planning, financial management, marketing, and access to microfinance or small business loans






Taking a survivor-centered approach to gender-based violence is essential for addressing the needs and rights of survivors and ensuring access to justice. The Centre for Rights Education Awareness (CREAW) and the County of Nairobi Gender Focal person recently organized a two-day capability building and awareness creation event for gender advocacy stakeholders in Kibera/Langata. Center for Innovative Community Advocacy and Development (CICAD Kenya) and other participants included human rights defenders, gender-based violence responders, the NGAO, and representatives from the criminal justice sector attended the two-day workshop at Ngong Hill Hotel.

Gender-based violence, as defined by the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, encompasses any harmful act perpetrated against a person will be based on socially ascribed gender differences. Shockingly, approximately one in three women globally experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate or non-intimate partner during their lifetime. However, many cases go unreported, and survivors often face stigma, rushed proceedings, or mishandling of their cases. Survivor-centered approaches are crucial for providing integrated services, supporting collective action, and ensuring accountability to improve access to justice in gender-based violence cases.

One key development that the participants applauded is the establishment of POLICARE Centers in informal settlements, which are hotspots for gender-based violence. POLICARE, derived from “POLICE” and “CARES,” is a National Police Service (NPS) integrated response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Kenya. These centers act as one-stop service providers, bringing together various professionals such as police officers, forensic investigators, health providers, psychologists, legal representatives, gender experts, and correctional personnel under one roof. The objective of POLICARE is to enhance the NPS’s capacity to prevent and respond to SGBV cases through the establishment of victim-centered support centers that involve multiple agencies.

Another significant effort in promoting a survivor-centered approach is the establishment of specialized Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) Courts. In Mombasa, Kenya, with the support of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), a specialized SGBV Court was established at the Shanzu Magistrates Court in 2022. This court, the first of its kind in East Africa, is dedicated to hearing cases of SGBV. Since its establishment, the court has provided services to 448 justice seekers, resolved numerous cases, and instilled confidence in women that they can seek and access justice.

Increasing the representation of women throughout the justice system is another crucial aspect of a survivor-centered approach. While progress has been made, the number of women in the judiciary remains low. IDLO is working to bridge this gap by supporting policies to accelerate gender equality. They have developed a strategy to introduce gender-friendly policies in Kenya’s judiciary, including the establishment of dedicated gender and human resources offices. IDLO also collaborates with the International Association of Women Judges to mentor young women aspiring to pursue careers in the justice sector.

Engaging men, who often perpetrate gender-based violence, is vital in transforming attitudes and behaviors. Programs targeting men should aim to reduce toxic masculinity, transforming them from perpetrators to protectors and ultimately reducing gender-based violence.

In conclusion, adopting a survivor-centered approach to gender-based violence requires multiple strategies and collaborative efforts. Establishing integrated support centers, specialized courts, promoting gender equality within the justice system, and engaging men are all essential components of this transformative approach. The Centre for Innovative Community Advocacy and Development believes by prioritizing survivors’ needs, empowering them, and holding perpetrators accountable, society can strive towards a future free from gender-based violence. We at CICAD Kenya are calling for your financial support of any kind to help us bridge this gap and create more awareness and share the survivor centered approach to many stakeholders working in the gender sector.

Contribute today to enhance safe spaces of women and children.

Changing the Community Mindsets: CICAD Approach.

Changing the Community Mindsets: CICAD Approach.


Changing community mindsets involves a multifaceted approach that encompasses various activities aimed at education, engagement, and empowerment. CICAD believes that there has to be a change of mind-set by the community for community development to be realized. CICAD conduct a series of activities to help drive a shift in community mindset:

Training/Skills building Workshops to boost community knowledge and skills.

CICAD organizes workshops or training programs that equip community members with practical skills, such as communication, conflict resolution, leadership, and critical thinking. These skills empower individuals to contribute positively to their communities. The workshops and training sessions focused on topics such as diversity, inclusion, empathy, conflict resolution, mental health awareness, and sustainable living. CICAD trains key community leaders to lead this change programs or initiatives.

Skill building workshops also includes facilitating skill-sharing sessions and capacity-building workshops where community members can learn from each other, exchange knowledge, and build practical skills. This could include workshops on gardening, cooking, sustainable practices, or digital literacy.

Community dialogue forums to enhance community strategic connection.

CICAD Organizes forums, meetings, or discussion groups where community members can come together to share perspectives, discuss challenges, and brainstorm solutions. Encourage respectful dialogue and active listening. Community dialogue forums also include promoting interfaith and interethnic dialogue initiatives that foster understanding, respect, and collaboration among different religious and cultural groups within the community. Encourage joint events, and cultural celebrations to promote social cohesion.

CICAD Facilitate cultural exchange programs that allow people from different backgrounds to interact, learn from each other, and celebrate diversity. Strategic connections also mean evaluating community network of partners, associates and supporters aimed at building local community network.

Media and Communication Campaigns aimed at raising awareness.

CICAD uses media campaigns, social media initiatives, and public awareness campaigns to promote positive messages, challenge stereotypes, and highlight community achievements. Use storytelling and visual media to engage and inspire communities.

Leaders Empowerment Initiatives aimed at promoting inclusion and participation.

CICAD Creates opportunities for youth involvement and leadership development. Support youth-led projects, mentorship programs, and youth councils to empower the next generation of community leaders and change-makers.

Collaborative Problem Solving aimed at addressing deep community problems.

CICAD Encourages collaboration among community stakeholders, including local government, businesses, nonprofits, schools, and residents. Work together to identify common challenges and co-create solutions that benefit the entire community.

Policy Advocacy and Grassroots Movements building community policies.

Engage in advocacy efforts to promote policy changes that align with community values and priorities. Support grassroots movements that address systemic issues and advocate for social justice.

Continuous Feedback and Evaluation

Regularly gather feedback from community members through surveys, focus groups, and consultations. Use data and insights to assess progress, refine strategies, and ensure that initiatives are responsive to community needs.


Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in peace & security in eastern Africa

Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in peace & security in eastern Africa

        1 .1         Abstract

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 in 2000, the first- ever on Women, Peace and Security Resolution. The Resolution called for the recognition of women as agents of change in conflict prevention and resolution; acknowledged the different impacts of conflict on men and women and the necessity of appropriate protection measures; and underlined the need to include women in peace processes. East Africa has been hit ever since independence with conflict and violence that borders on terrorism, piracy, organized crime, intra-state conflicts among others. The impacts of such conflicts is a long list leading to deaths and maiming so many. Women have borne the brunt of these conflicts/violence both indirectly (when their men, the sole breadwinner) is killed and directly when they are tortured and even killed in their numbers. Nevertheless, little attention is paid to how women suffer the conflicts and violence or participate in peace processes. Women continue to be under-represented in matters pertaining to peace and security as they are only seen as victims in conflict and security situations. This paper seeks to rethink UNSCR 1325 against the background of the ongoing peace and security situation in East African region, assesses the challenges of non-inclusion of women in peace processes and proposes mainstreaming of gender perspective in peace and security as a remedy to the cycle of conflicts and violence in Eastern Africa.

1.2         Introduction

The ultimate goal of human during history in all societies is to achieve such peace and security that as a result violence of human life disappeared, and the dignity of man restores its place (Soltani & Moradi, 2017). According to Miller (2005), It is thought the most important thing is that whether peace should simply be defined as the absence of war and direct violence (negative peace), or whether it involves both mean of absence of war and direct violence in the presence of social justice (positive peace) (Kurtz, 1999). In the second sense, peace is political conditions that guarantee social justice and stability through institutions, procedures and the formal and non-formal norms (Miller, 2005).

For many people, today’s world is an insecure place, full of threats on many fronts. Protracted crises, violent conflicts, natural disasters, persistent poverty, epidemics and economic downturns impose hardships and undercut prospects for peace, stability, and sustainable development.  Such crises are complex, entailing multiple forms of human insecurity. When they overlap, they can grow exponentially, spilling into all aspects of people’s lives, destroying entire communities and crossing national borders, but as noted in the United Nation General Assembly resolution 66/290, “human security is an approach to assist Member States in identifying and addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people.” It calls for “people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people.”

East African community countries like most African countries, despite the efforts that they have put forth to ensure peace and security in the region, the security threats seem to stay put. This paper recognizes that one of the main gaps in ensuring that the region is peaceful and secure lies in mainstreaming a gender perspective in peace and security. Agbalajobi (2010) affirms that, the rise in conflict in east Africa and the frequency by which they occur call for a re-thinking into the strategies of for their intervention. Conflict exists in all countries and at every level of society. Conflict per se is by no means a negative force; it is a natural expression of social differences and of humanity’s perpetual struggle for justice and self (Agbalajobi, 2010)

Atim (2017) on the other hand asserted that in a world of continuing instability and violence, the participation of women in power structures and their full involvement in all efforts aimed at prevention and resolution of conflicts are essential for maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Agbalajobi insists that the way in which gender is integral to peace and violent conflict makes it clear that a gendered analysis of peacebuilding is essential in preventing and mitigating new violent eruptions in post-conflict societies while helping them recover from current conflict (Agbalajobi, 2010). While conflict inflicts suffering on everyone, women are particularly affected by its short- and long-term effects. Sexual assault and exploitation are frequently employed as tools of war. Victimisation leads to isolation, alienation, prolonged emotional trauma, and unwanted pregnancies that often result in abandoned children.

Given that women suffer as victims first of conflict and then of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, it has become necessary to recognise the role played by women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, otherwise they will continue to be victims of conflicts. Resolution 1325 recognises the importance of women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and provides a series of specific measures aimed at women’s full participation in decision making in the area of peace and security. Agbalajobi (2010) observes that in the last few years, governments, international organisations and civil society have increasingly recognised the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the continuing struggle for equality, democracy and human rights and for poverty eradication and development.

1.3         Theoretical Considerations

State-centrism in the international system is not a benign occurrence. The realist domain is quite instructive. The international system is anarchical and anarchy is best managed by states. To the realist therefore, under these circumstances the state becomes the ultimate guarantor of the security of its people (Nzau & Mohamed, 2017). Without refuting the position of the realist, it is clear that the peace and security dimension has become too complex making the realist lens less elaborate in explaining the reality of peace and security.

According to Renner (2006), many of today’s challenges cannot be resolved by traditional (i.e., military-focused) security policies.  Unlike traditional military threats emanating from a determined adversary, many of today’s security challenges are risks and vulnerabilities shared across borders.  While the poorest countries are most directly affected, none of these issues respect human-drawn borders, and we might think of them as “problems without passports.”

As such, from a feminist point of view, the realist-cantered international security discourse is unduly male-dominated, a state of affairs that leaves out critical actors who are in fact victims and/or active participants in matters to do with security and/or insecurity- the female gender. Yet, over and above the general feminist theoretical orientation, the human security paradigm is a broad theoretical argument that in many ways subsumes feminist concerns within it

Marry (2009) quoted in Nzau & Mohamed (2017) asserts that from an African standpoint, when talking about energy, water, food and personal security and others, it is mothers, sisters, daughters and the women-folk in general who come to mind.  further they quoted Davies (2008) elaborating that, the women-folk cook, fetch water and firewood; and in a region that has had its own share of brutal civil war, women and children (and by extension, the girl-child) have suffered the brunt of it- torture, abduction, displacement, rape and death. As it is, the domestic realm to which they have mostly been relegated is rarely illuminated in the security discourse, a state of affairs that makes them inferior players in security matters. From this perspective, therefore, the ideas presented by the critical theoretical domain of international security do present a worthwhile framework for mainstreaming gender in countering violent extremism and terror in the Eastern African Region.

1.4         Gender and insecurity in Africa: A brief introspective account

Yinger (1997) believes that ethnic unrest and tension are prevalent in today’s world. Newspapers and television are rife with stories about ethnic violence among the people of Africa, the Middle East, India, China, Srilanka, Ireland, etc. Many other societies in little danger of civil wars—such as the United States, Britain, Canada, most of the Western Europe, and Japan—are nevertheless torn by ethnic strife. In many ways they are more seriously divided along ethnic lines, marked by racial, lingual, religious, and national differences, than they were a generation ago.

Yabi (2016) believes that Africa and the Middle East are the two regions of the world with the highest conflict burden. Since the mid-1990s, Africa has gradually improved across all measurements of death and war. These positive changes are due to several factors, including greater regional cooperation, decreased intrastate wars, economic growth, and increased democratic governance that include women in the process of governance.

Comprising the largest share of ex-colonial states of the world, Africa is caught up in a range of intra- to inter-state conflicts. „Since independence, about one-third of the countries of Africa have experienced large-scale political violence or war (Ali, 2004). Statistics bear out the impression that conflict on the continent is getting worse, not better. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which monitors incidents of conflict around the world, found that there had been 21 600 incidents of armed conflict in Africa in 2019 (up to 30 November). For the same period in 2018, that number was just 15 874. That represents a 36% increase (Allison, 2020).

According to Yinger (1997), the conflict in Africa have been largely blamed the colonization of Africa after the 1884 Berlin conference that led to the division of Africa to the satisfaction of the different colonial powers of the time. Even after independence, the conflict have continued with a range of causes such as boundary related conflicts, electoral conflicts, conflict based on gender discrimination, inter-ethnic conflicts among others. Such conflicts have led to deaths, destruction of properties, revenge attacks among others. If no interventions are carried out, this will rip Africa apart.

But not all African countries are affected to the same degree. In some African countries, a whole generation has never experienced peace since independence and has internalized war as a legitimate part of life (Nhema, 2004). For instance, within only four decades time (i.e., between the 1960s and the 1990s), approximately 80 violent changes in government in the 48 sub-Saharan African countries took place (Adebayo, 1999). Strangely enough, Africa has seen over seventy coups in the last quarter of the 20thC (Ali, 2004:9). Roughly in the same period, Africa has suffered the greatest number of armed conflicts in the world” (Andreas, 2010). As long as the root causes are not established, or if the root causes are politically downplayed, find a resolution would be a big challenge.

According to Okyere (2018), Wars and revolutions have been viewed as an exclusive preserve of men battling to either defend some class of people or champion the protection of State or a group’s ideology. In these specific situations, women are characterized in their capacity as wives, mothers and considered vulnerable. Over the past two decades, there has been increasing recognition that to understand the nature of conflict and design effective peacebuilding responses, it is necessary to think about gender. The different roles and behaviours of women, men and sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) affect the way that conflicts play out, as well as the impacts they have on people’s lives. Expectations relating to gender influence the roles that people play in efforts to build peace, and peacebuilding activities can also influence gender roles and behaviours (Watson, Wright, & Groenewald, 2015).

According to Shcraeder (2004) quoted in Nzau & Mohamed (2017), the folklore and contemporary historical evidence has from time to time come to prove that women actually organized and participated in offensive and defensive warfare in many pre-colonial African societies. Some were great warriors of their people while others were part of powerful secret spiritual societies that gathered, analysed and transmitted vital intelligence in both times of war and peace. Such was the case with the traditional women’s secret societies among the Mende people in today’s Sierra Leone, West Africa (Nzau & Mohamed, 2017). Shcraeder opines that the colonial system destroyed certain matriarchal societal systems, and further unduly reinforced a patriarchal social structure. The fact is conflicts/violence don’t discriminate, whenever it comes around it hits hard whoever is on its way regardless of their gender and other discriminations and because of this I believe it is the vocation of each one to be involved in peace and security in their respective positions in the society and children are not excluded from this.

1.5         Status of Peace and Security in Eastern Africa

1.5.1        Terrorism

There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. It is commonly defined as the de-liberate use of violence and intimidation directed at a large audience to coerce a community (government) into conceding politically or ideologically motivated demands (Krieger & Melerrieks, 2010). Nearly all countries in East Africa have been victims to terrorist attacks for different reasons.  Examples include; the 1980 terrorist attacks on the Norfolk Hotel in Kenya, the August 1998 simultaneous attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the November 2002 simultaneous attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, on another Paradise Hotel and on an Israel-bound aircraft at take-off from the Mombasa International Airport, Kenya; the July 2010 attacks during the World Cup finals in Kampala, Uganda and the December 2010 bombing of a Kampala-bound bus in Nairobi. Local communities in the region have borne the burden of the loss of life and property as well as other economic damage from these attacks

According to Chikwanha (2007), Complexities of the violence in the EAC have been partly caused by, and have resulted in hostilities amongst individuals, groups and states. Although colonial legacies have fuelled the conflicts, contemporary violence seems to be a result of failure in both statecraft and state capacity to provide a secure and decent life for. Dagha (2020) on the other hand opines that EA region is vulnerable to terrorism because countries in the region experience: conflicts, weak governance, collapsed state institutions; porous borders the allowing extensive and uncontrolled movement of people and illegal weapons; increased extremist religious ideology and radicalisation of vulnerable groups. These factors generally coincide with poor socio-economic conditions and create fertile ground for the existence of terrorism. For instance Southern Somalia has faced the burden of the civil conflict for the past two decades. Since the overthrow of Siad Barre‟s regime in 1991, Southern Somalia has not had a functioning government, making it the most unstable and insecure region of the country

Barely two weeks into 2020, al-Shabaab attacked Kenya five times, leaving scores of Kenyans and foreigners dead? For the first time, one of the attacks involved infiltrating an air strip and destroying several aircraft in Lamu County – an area where the Kenyan and U.S armies operate. Chikwanha (2007), thinks that exclusionary governance styles are largely to blame for many of the conflicts since exclusion from government usually means exclusion from all other developmental prospects.

Kenya has borne the brunt of al-Shabaab attacks outside Somalia. Over the past decade, the group has attacked Kenya at least 30 times, leaving over 600 citizens and scores of foreigners dead, thousands injured and millions of US dollars lost in damages to infrastructure – both public and private. According to Dagha (2020), Al-Shabaab has warned of more attacks in Kenya. In these statements one key message has remained consistent over the years: Kenya should remove its troops from Somalia if it ever wants peace with al-Shabaab. If it fails to do so, ‘its streets will continue to be filled with rivers of blood of its own people’, said an al-Shabaab statement following the high-profile Westgate Mall attack in 2013 (Dagha, 2020)

The Kenyan government incurs heavy costs in trying to stabilize Somalia. But it became partisan to United States (US) interests in the anti-terrorism drive. This has resulted in the victimization of Somalis and Muslims resulting in the radicalization of the Muslim community thus the War on terror is perceived as a war on Islam by many Moslems. The maligning of the local Moslem community signals mistrust of the Muslim community yet Moslem cooperation/collaboration is central in fighting terrorism in Kenya (Chikwanha, 2007). The north eastern region of Kenya has remained one of the most insecure regions in the country. Government and civilians require armed escorts. The collapse of Somalia led to an increase in banditry, lawlessness, inter-clan tensions and villains from Kenya simply cross over to cool down in Somalia where they have relationships with warlords.

1.5.2        Intra-State Conflicts

Smith (2001) observes that from the start of 1990 to the end of 1999 there were 118 armed conflicts worldwide, involving 80 states and two para-state regions and resulting in the death of approximately six million people. He defines armed conflicts as open, armed clashes between two or more centrally organised parties, with continuity between the clashes, in disputes about power over government and territory. such armed conflicts have shaken the peace and security in Africa at large and Eastern Africa in particular for instance, for the African Union, 2020 was supposed to be a landmark year. Its ‘silencing the guns’ initiative was aimed at ‘ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide in the continent by 2020.’ While no one can argue with that laudable goal, the continental body and its member states will have to work miracles to achieve it by the end of this year – especially when the trend seems to be heading in the other direction.

According to Peace and Security Council (2020) report, the issues around elections or political change on the continent remain volatile and have the potential to trigger or aggravate political crises, with the possibility of tipping over into violent conflict, for example Cameroon postponed legislative election to 2020 as a result of volatile political climate, Algeria and Sudan saw their respective incumbents forced out as a result of sustained popular protest, the security situation in Burkina Faso and Niger has been severely affected by violent extremism, with a worrisome increase in attacks in the latter

Meanwhile, since the post-electoral crisis of 2010– 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has had a difficult time in its process of peacebuilding and democratic consolidation. What is brewing in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections has the potential to end up being another major crisis. The Sahel, where violent extremism has been occurring with renewed intensity, is an area that will require the whole of Africa to be fully involved in the search for and implementation of a holistic and durable solution. The political transition in Sudan, the conflict situation in South Sudan, and the prognosis for Ethiopia in 2020 make the Horn of Africa another region that risks increasing instability. Ethiopia, led by Prime Minister and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed, faces several crises in the context of its ethnic federalist model being challenged by various groups within the federation.

Almost three quarters of East has suffered different episodes of conflicts for’p 987 instance; since 2015 Burundi faced crisis punctuated by episodes of violence and a deteriorating socio-political climate. Africa peace and security (2020) report some examples; Incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza was allowed to seek re-election after he amended the constitution in May 2018. The terrorist problem is all the more worrying because it is spreading like a trail of gunpowder across the continent, now affecting northern Mozambique and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and most parts of East Africa, occupying spaces where states are absent, and taking advantage of the social and economic misery of an often youthful and idle population that is without prospects for the future.

Chikwanha (2007) observes that global economic pressures push recalcitrant governments to engage in rapid economic and political reform through mobilizing constituencies around ethnic or religious differences. This makes it possible for them to hold on to power and restore their positions of wealth and power. Such exclusionary governance styles drive ethnic groups to force inclusion violently. For instance, Burundi’s ruling elite come from one province, Bururi leaving those excluded to use violence to fight for inclusion. In Kenya, former President Moi restructured distributional politics to benefit his Kalenjin group and the Kikuyus were not happy to lose their privileged position. Currently, the Kikuyus are unhappy and uneasy about the possibility of losing their current status again. he goes further to state that ethnic tensions (inter-ethnic violence)- Decades of ethnic violence deter the achievement of political and social harmony- this has resulted in different types of killing societies e.g. Burundi’s history of ethnic cleansing of Tutsis [1965,1972,1988 and 1993] and unworkable peace deals that condone violence by allowing perpetrators to go unpunished.

Stereotyping that has persisted since colonization also contributes to conflicts. For example according to the International crisis group (2017) report, the most serious clashes, which occurred after the disputed presidential election in 2007-2008, engulfed much of the Rift Valley region and took the country to the brink of civil war. Most of these violence pitted the Kikuyu and a few communities believed to have backed President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election against the Kalenjin, Luo and Luhya groups that supported opposition leader Raila Odinga’s candidacy. Chikwanha (2007) is of the assertion that in the entire East Africa, there are aliens and indigenes; sophisticated and primitive regions; oppressors and the oppressed and rulers versus subjects, the predatory politicians and the revolutionaries. The case of cattle rustling shows the apparent lack of sophistication as these inhabitants devastate themselves, their neighbours and entire regions.

Many researchers view identity as being implicated in intractable conflicts. Specifically, intractable conflicts are characterized by simplifying stereotypes and zero-sum conceptualization of identity (Azar, 1986; Coleman, 2003,; Kelman, 1999, 2006; Putman & Wondoleck, 2003; Zartman, 2005), the identities of parties in intractable conflicts are negatively interdependent such that a key component of each group’s identity is based on the negation of the other group (Kelman, 2006). Furthermore, for one group to maintain its legitimacy it must delegitimize the other.

1.5.3        Resource-Based Conflicts

According to Renner (2006), Natural resources are at the core of a number of security issues.  Resource wealth has fuelled a series of civil wars, with governments, rebels, and warlords in Latin America, Africa, and Asia clamouring over resources such as oil, metals and minerals, gemstones, and timber. He states further that oil is the most strategic and lucrative commodity in the world economy. Struggles over access and control have long fuelled geopolitical manoeuvring, civil wars, and human rights violations.  Major Powers have repeatedly intervened in resource-rich countries, militarily and by other means, in order to control lucrative resources.  The result has often been enduring political instability. He goes further to state that security, political, social and economic crises will certainly be aggravated by climate change, which caused death and destruction on the continent this year. Extreme weather events destroy communities, disrupt farming and cause food insecurity, while African governments (and populations) remain unprepared to deal with this threat.

According to Gumba, Alusala & Kimani (2019, Cattle rustling, a term widely accepted to mean livestock theft, has become a widespread and sometimes lethal practice in East Africa and the Horn of Africa regions. Once a traditional practice among nomadic communities, it has now become commercialised by criminal networks that often span communal and international borders and involve a wide range of perpetrators. Cattle rustling is clearly an economic activity for some population categories. The cross border nature of the raids complicate redress mechanisms as collaboration with neighbouring countries have to be strengthened (Chikwanha, 2007) Cattle rustling in East Africa and the Horn was, in the past, predominantly practised by pastoral and nomadic communities for two main purposes. The first was as a way of restocking after a severe drought or disease had killed their livestock and the second was to enable suitors (young warriors) to acquire cattle to pay the bride price required in order to marry. Whatever the reason, however, it rarely involved violence or death (Gumba, Alusala, & Kimani, 2019).

According to Chikwanha (2007), the entire region experiences poverty that is exacerbated by the unequal distribution of resources. This has always been a major cause of civil strife. For example, Burundi has very high rates of poverty with over 60% living below the poverty datum line. Economic performance has not been good for a long time and even regressed between 1993 and 1996. Ignorance and a general lack of awareness is pervasive in Burundi. He further observes that access to land is one issue that has led to perpetual conflicts since decolonization. Throughout Africa, the pattern has been largely the same with certain groups accumulating land to the disadvantage of others. Land policies are often complex and require fair redistribution models so as to stop the prolonged conflicts (Chikwanha, 2007). Uganda for example has experienced cycles of conflicts since 1979 but three major ones have persisted. In the West Nile, there are thousands of refugees from Congo and Sudan who battle with locals over land. Then there is Karamoja where over 30 years of armed cattle rustling has intensified as grazing land and water access dwindles. Cattle rustling creates opportunities for banditry to flourish.

1.5.4        Organized Crime

According to Kraft (2016), it is increasingly recognised in the international aid community that organised crime hinders inclusive and sustainable development in many ways. Today’s universe of organised criminal activities and of the individuals, groups and networks involved in them is virtually infinite. Spanning the whole globe, organised criminal operations range from illegal protection economies and extortion rackets to cybercrime, oil theft, money laundering, and counterfeiting, maritime piracy and the trafficking and/or smuggling of illicit drugs, humans, firearms and wildlife. In 2009, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that transnational organised crime generated $ 870 billion, the equivalent of 1.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP). All criminal proceeds worldwide amounted to an estimated 3.6% of global GDP, equivalent to about $2.1 trillion. He further observes that organised crime is not an “alien”, external threat. Criminal operations are planned, designed and implemented by mafia bosses, drug kingpins, paramilitary and insurgent commanders, warlords and gang leaders ‒ but also by, and with, politicians, military and police officers, civil servants, investment bankers and accountants, among representatives of many other professions.

According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau, in 2008, there were 293 actual and attempted piracy attacks globally. 92 of these attacks took place in the Gulf of Eden and 19 of them were in the coastal waters of Somalia. In 2009, there was an increase in the piracy attacks to 410 globally with 117 of them taking place in the Gulf of Eden and 80 in the coastal waters of Somalia. In 2010, the piracy attacks increased to 445 globally. Due to heightened international surveillance and counter-piracy activities, the piracy incidents in the Gulf of Eden dropped to 53 attacks in the Gulf of Eden, but the piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia rose to 139 (ICC International Maritime Bureau, 2010).

Chikwanha observes that porous and insecure borders all around [along Kenya – Somali and Kenya – Ethiopia] serve as fertile ground for organized crime. The rise in violence in Kenya is attributed to the ease of access to guns from the Darfur and Somali conflicts. The pervasive poverty in the entire region enables easy infiltration and recruitment into crime networks (Chikwanha, 2007). He further observes that, Insecurity in the region takes many forms: There is a pervasive climate of lawlessness as evidenced by increasing levels of piracy off the Somali coast, cross border smuggling between Kenya and Sudan, and between Kenya and Somalia. There is a general increase in violent crimes in all the cities: burglary, hijacking, poaching in the game parks, banditry/robbery and cattle rustling in the rural areas. For him, consequent redress mechanisms like forced disarmaments have proven elusive since governments have resulted in at times co-opting citizens to carry out disarmament policing and this has spiralled into un-checked ‘government enabled militias’ whose activities have also not been so objective. This has exacerbated violence, increase the number of weapons into the conflict epicentres and decelerated development in the areas.

1.6         Mainstreaming a gender perspective in peace and security

“Security” – no other political term has experienced such an international career since September 11, 2001. In the name of security, wars have been waged to topple the Taliban and the Iraqi dictatorship; the “war against terror” has been declared; the EU has resolved to set up intervention troops with a global scope of action; border controls have been tightened; and the powers of the security apparatus have been expanded. Have all of these actions resulted in more security (Fucks, 2006). My answer to the question is no and my proposal is that peace and security could be realized if a gender perspective is mainstreamed in peace and security. Mainstreaming a gender perspective will change the meaning and the approach to sustainable peace and security. Renner (2006) is of the same line of thought when he asserted that weapons do not necessarily provide security they aggravate it and this true in all forms of war. Real security in a globalizing world cannot be provided on a purely national basis (or even on the basis of limited alliances).  A multilateral and even global approach is needed to deal effectively with a multitude of transboundary challenges (Renner, 2006). It is under this umbrella that we propose that the peace and security agenda should be removed from state-centrism to a more encompassing model that incorporate all sectors and in this case a mainstream of gender perspective.

The traditional focus on state (or regime) security is inadequate and needs to encompass safety and well-being of the state’s population.  If individuals and communities are insecure, state security itself can be extremely fragile.  Security without justice will not produce a stable peace.  Democratic governance and a vibrant civil society may ultimately be more imperative for security than an army (Renner, 2006).

Non-military dimensions have an important influence on security and stability.  Nations around the world, but particularly the weakest countries and communities, confront a multitude of pressures.  They face a debilitating combination of rising competition for resources, severe environmental breakdown, the resurgence of infectious diseases, poverty and growing wealth disparities, demographic pressures, and joblessness and livelihood insecurity (Renner, 2006)

1.6.1        Change in Peace and Security Dimensions

Renner (2006) state that, security has been see traditionally as closely related to the threat or use of violence, and military means are regarded as central to the provision of security. This may once have made sense, when conflicts took place predominantly between different countries, when territorial control was a key objective, and when uniformed soldiers were the combatants.  But over the last several decades, this type of conflict has become more the exception than the norm. He asserts further that the pressures facing societies and people everywhere do not automatically or necessarily trigger violence. But they can translate into political dynamics that lead to rising polarization and radicalization.  Worst-case outcomes are more likely where grievances are left to fester, where people are struggling with mass unemployment or chronic poverty, where state institutions are weak or corrupt, where arms are easily available, and where political humiliation or despair over the lack of hope for a better future may drive people into the arms of extremist movements. Insecurity can manifest itself in ways other than violent conflict. The litmus test is whether the well-being and integrity of society are so compromised that they lead to possibly prolonged periods of instability and mass suffering. it is under this background that I wish to argue that in matters security, gender discrimination should not apply, actually put positively, mainstreaming a gender perspective is likely to escalate the realization of peace and security in conflict areas

1.6.2        Gender and Conflicts

While conflict inflicts suffering on everyone, women are particularly affected by its short- and long-term effects. Sexual assault and exploitation are frequently employed as tools of war. Victimisation leads to isolation, alienation, prolonged emotional trauma, and unwanted pregnancies that often result in abandoned children. As culturally designated caregivers, women must struggle to support their families and keep their homes together, while the traditional breadwinners, the husbands, are caught up in the fighting and are thus unable to provide for their families (Agbalajobi, 2010). From this observation, it is worth noting that paying special attention to the different experiences of women and men is particularly critical in designing successful conflict management and peacebuilding programmes

In any discussion on peace security especially in light of the dangers posed by radicalization into violent extremism and terror, the place of the female gender cannot be overlooked. In the African context particularly, women may appear to have been relegated to the domestic sphere, yet the story of radicalization into violent extremism is closer home- in feminine circles (Nzau & Mohamed, 2017). More than involvement in counterterrorism, women must be involved in different peace and security platforms for the sustainability of peace and security. Alao quoted in Mohamed & Nzau (2017), it is noteworthy, for instance, that a substantial number of suicide bombings in Nigeria today have been orchestrated by women. It is evident that the matter peace and the security no longer fall in the men domain alone but far wider and deeper in the society structures.

1.6.3        Gender Discrimination

According to Brine (1999) quoted in Isike & Uzodike (2011) he asserts that while a multiplicity of factors is responsible for the conflicts, they all reflect the failure of national political systems to prevent them ab initio, effectively manage their symptoms or mediate them when they occur. It is pertinent to note that the vast majority of world leaders, of governments and officials at all levels, and of the presidents and boardrooms of transnational corporations are men. Isike & Uzodike (2011) are of the assumption that: first, the global power is gendered in favour of men, and second is that armed conflict has a masculine character in terms of causes since men dominate the decision-making structures and mechanisms that produce them in the first place. The question they ask is how and why did women transform from being active participants in pre-colonial politics and peace processes to being passive observers of politics and peacebuilding in neo-colonial Africa (Isike & Uzodike, 2011).

Donnenfeld (2019) observes that any country, region or society that fundamentally excludes 50% of its population will never be able to realise its full potential. Around the world women are systematically discriminated against relative to their male counterparts, but the problem is particularly acute in developing countries – especially sub-Saharan Africa. Women in sub-Saharan Africa face hurdles not only to personal safety and access to basic services such as education and healthcare, including reproductive health services, but also to economic and financial independence.  Nzau & Mohamed (2017), posits that gender is a socially constructed aspect of social reality. Over time and space, different societies have ascribed gender roles and with them, different social expectations, prestige, entitlements, rights and privileges. For the most part, pre-colonial African societies were patriarchal, where male-gendered roles took precedence over female-gendered ones. There were, however, matrilineal societies where the case was the reverse. Here, female-gendered social roles (and hence social expectations, prestige, entitlements, rights and privileges) took precedence. On the whole however, societal defence was a male-dominated affair.

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) global agenda recognises that gender mainstreaming is important for a gender-equal society. Because of historical disadvantage and unequal and discriminatory policies against women worldwide, specific attention must be given to women to tackle the challenges that impair their development (Chikwanha, 2007). Isike & Uzodike (2011) brings forward the significance of the human factor paradigm in their observation that beyond the human security and human rights (people-centred) approaches to development, the quality/type of people who can make peace and development possible also matters. In other words, there is need to focus on the character traits and human dimensions of people who are more likely to make peace and development happen, and appropriate their services accordingly (Isike & Uzodike, 2011). The human factor model bring out the quality of the actor in peace and development beyond gender composition and this in my view is what ought to be considered in the peace and security infrastructure.

Mainstreaming a gender perspective is a prerequisite for meaningful peace and human security. In 1994 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced a new definition of human security that advocates for inclusion of the following dimensions: economics, health, personal, political, food, environmental and community.  Fundamental to this broader definition of human security is the acknowledgement that all members of society are included, regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity or gender. whichever perspective that may be adopted, it should be noted that peace and security is the responsibility of each one and finding and putting appropriate actors in the peace process is key to the realization of sustainable peace and security in Eastern Africa and beyond.

1.6.4        Gender Roles

Women have been largely marginalized in formal conflict resolution processes and post conflict governance hence issues that affect them get scant attention. Violence against women [domestic] and the fact that many wars are fought on women’s bodies, means that their voices are crucial and critical for reforming the security sector (Chikwanha, 2007). Isike traces the significance of women in the traditional African society when he asserted that Women in different pre-colonial African societies had traditional peace-making and peacebuilding roles as they were involved in mediating and preventing conflict within and between societies. Women’s peace agency in these societies, and also their cultural and socio-political roles and contributions to the overall well-being of these societies, were rooted in Ubuntu (Isike & Uzodike, 2011).

Chikwanha observes that while women were active fighters, many more were (and continue to be) victims of various forms of insecurity on the continent, particularly in the context of civil wars and concomitant ramifications on society- politically, economically, culturally and physiologically (Chikwanha, 2007).   Presley (1999) quoted in Chikwanha (2007), observes that during the Mau Mau struggle, the women were instrumental in conveying messages to the male fighters from one place in the forest to another; as well as transportation of essential supplies such as food and clothing. As state above it is worth noting that men are generally militaristic as they are naturally charged with the role of societal protection. However the very term protection ought to be deconstructed and understood beyond violence.

Isike & Uzodike observes that women generally are richly endeared with the moral capacity to care and to embrace curiosity and complexity as they are want to rise above the historic traps of dualistic divisions which drive the cycles of violence, and in this way, transcend orthodox gender stereotypes and the oppressive relations they spew. This is possible because women are more relational than men and as such view the same phenomenon differently (Isike & Uzodike, 2011). Further to that, they noted that women’s existence and power in precolonial African societies were based on an ethic of care that was rooted in their motherhood and their nature, which was tolerant of difference, collaborative, non-violent and, as such, peaceful. It is important to not that the African feminist ethic of motherhood and care which drove women’s political participation and peace agency in pre-colonial African societies is still very much alive amongst contemporary African women. Such powers ought to be explored deeper revived and mainstreamed in East African peace and security process.

Traditionally, women in pre-colonial African societies were peace agents. According to Nwoye (no date), women engaged in peacebuilding through positive childcare, responsible mothering and nurturing of children in ways that prepared and socialised them towards peaceful co-existence (Isike & Uzodike, 2011). According to Leith (1967), women are teachers. Culturally, African women were the transmitters of the language, the history and the oral culture, the music, the dance, the habits and the artisanal knowledge. They were the teachers and were responsible for instilling traditional values and knowledge in children. This caring role of women must be allowed to play in the community architecture of Eastern Africa and beyond. My argument is that if women in their numbers play this caring role in the society, children will grow up knowing the importance of coexistence (Leith, 1967).

Women in pre-colonial societies also engaged actively in conflict mediation. As mentioned before, age was an important social base of political power in these societies and respect was given to the elderly in general, and to elderly women in particular (Isike & Uzodike, 2011). More than mediation as Olasunkanmi (2014), the women’s role in traditional Africa was synonymous to societal development. The impacts of the women were felt in every aspect of life of the society. African traditional societies assigned to women the role of educator. African woman played a key role in the education and the teaching of children social, ethical and moral values which were part of the cultural standards for evaluating proper societal behaviour. Further to that as mentioned by Isike & Uzodike (2011) was the intermediaries’ role in conflicts between human beings and nature. The East African communities despite appreciating the roles that the men play ought to recognize the need to escalate the involvement women in peace and security owing to their significant nature and position in peace process

Isike & Uzodike (2011) observes from a study of women that; conflict, politics and peacebuilding show that the defining features of such a feminist peace model include a caring and nurturing nature based on motherhood, empathy to community needs (which makes women less corrupt than men), tolerance of difference, sharing and collaboration, all of which are undergirded by the notion of relational mutuality, i.e., that men and women exist in a web of relationships where their existence are intrinsically connected (Ubuntu). From the study, women respond to conflict by embracing peace and adopting collaborative methods of engagement. The attitude of women to conflict, which underscores their response and the peace-oriented roles they play in conflict resolution, is not unconnected to the African woman’s feminist ethic of care which values interrelationships, connectedness and empowerment rather than conflict and competition mostly embraced by the female gender.

1.7        Conclusion

The understanding of peace and security ought to be reviewed and removed from a state centric and male dominance into a more elaborate model that incorporate very significant actors such as the women. Mainstreaming a gender perspective transcend the consideration of peace and security actors based on their sex to capabilities. In order to realize sustainable peace and security in Eastern Africa, peace actors must be looked at from the perspective of their capabilities and not necessarily by their sexes.

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Youth Engagement with Religion: Religious Institutions response to the Changing Youth Dynamics and how the engagement influences the youth world view

Youth Engagement with Religion: Religious Institutions response to the Changing Youth Dynamics and how the engagement influences the youth world view


The question as to what extent religious spiritual dimension inform, motivate and activate youths in community in the area of peacebuilding, environmental and humanitarian activities can be argued from many perspectives. However, this paper has built its reasoning from how the religious institutions have responded to the youth changing dynamics as the basis of previous engagement and possibly the future engagement with youths, for example dynamic Catholic states that 85 percent of Catholic young adults stop practicing their Faith in college (most of them within their first year of leaving home). Curtis Martin, the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) thinks that 85 percent is conservative, and that the Catholic Church is losing more than 90 percent of Catholic young people by the end of their college years (Fritz, 2018). If the data presented above is anything to go by, then one can only argue that, either the Church is losing its relevance in influencing the youth’s behavior or the youths are finding some better coalitions to work with. This paper is going to discuss how religious institution have responded to the changing youth dynamic and how that influence the relationship and influence youths’ world views and perceptions. The paper uses secondary data on youth and religion and experience by the research on the interaction between the youths and religion in different areas especially in Kenya.

1.0 Introduction

The word religion is derived from Latin word „re-ligare‟, where „re‟ means back and „ligare‟ means „to the origin‟. Thus religion means – going back to our origins, this very meaning unfolds the essentiality of multiple religions. Since the origin and upbringing of different groups of people took place in different geographies, environment, social set up and other variables; world witnesses multiplicity of religions from major religions to folk religions and totems worship  (Dayal, 2018). Going back to the origin can also be seen to have transcendence dimension as the origin of everything is God or a supreme being. Some scholars also believe that the word Religion has evolved from the Latin word „Religo‟ which stands for right faith or ritual. Standing for the right faith also has a correlation with creation, as faith is usually directed to God or the supreme being who orders everything into being. Christianity is the main religion in Kenya. As of 2019, over 85 percent of the population identified as Christians, among which 33.4 percent were Protestants, 20.6 percent Catholics, 20.4 percent Evangelicals, and seven percent from African Instituted Churches. Furthermore, nearly 11 percent of Kenyans were Muslim (Faria, 2021). Religion has an overwhelming deepest impact on humanity. Religion ensures hope, fearlessness, tolerance, morality and spiritual development (Dayal, 2018). The focus for this paper is how the religious institutions especially in Kenya have responded to the changing youth dynamics and how that influence the youth world view.

There is no conclusive answer as to what extent religious institutions influence the youth’s world views especially with data from many researchers claiming youths exiting religious institutions to other institutions more reliable to them. While we cannot conclude that the youths have left the Church, the data of the youth out-flux cannot be underestimated. There are however other positive dimensions under which religious has been majorly significant in the lives of the youths for example in education, employments, sports, spiritual development among other. Whether religious institutions remain relevant in the lives of the youths and whether the youths use religious teaching to inform their world views can be seen clearly in the discussions on the previous responses of religious institutions to the youth ever changing dynamics and how that has changed over time forcing youths to look of other relevant coalitions to learn from and be motivated by.

How religious institutions understand youths

Past literatures have generally defined youths based on the age-brackets. Kenya’s constitution defines “youth” as people who “have attained the age of eighteen years; but have not attained the age of thirty-five years” Most Churches see the youth is the future of any church a description that denies them a fundamental role in the present. While such definitions have been beneficial for academic purposes, it has offered a very narrow perspective in looking at the youths in terms of their potentials and capabilities. Religious institution factor age and a reference to a future responsibility in the understanding of the youths. Other descriptions religious have used on the youths may include but not limited to; upright youths or not, some call the youths hasty in decision making while others think that youths are people who cannot be left alone, leave alone being trusted with serious tasks. Either way, the way one is perceived influence a lot on their relationship with the perceiver. One can strongly argue that the perception of the religious institutions of the youths had contributed to the youths breaking from the Church and therefore standing at a risk in missing out in the rich-religious values and teachings that would affect their world views.

I am of the argument that the youths have to be involved in whatever label that is put on them. The youths must not be viewed narrowly in terms of the age bracket or in reference to a future role, but also in relation their values, in relation to their social, political, environmental, cultural and religious philosophies. This is to say that the environment, the culture, the society, the Church, the politics, has a role in shaping the individual youth’s philosophy of life. For instance, Wakiaga (2019), observes that East Asia has always been used as an outstanding example of rapid economic progress into industrialization in what is commonly referred to as The East Asian Miracle. It is worth noting that, of the various factors credited for this, the rapid snowballing of human capital, comprised mainly of the youth, was cited as one of the key engines for the Miracle. This translated into an increased life expectancy for 8 countries in East Asia, significant improvement in human welfare and a drastic reduction of poverty (Wakiaga, 2019). If youth economic and other dimension were fully exploited one who be surprised at the values that each individual youth has and that we can change the course of economic history of a country.

Religious institutions and the Changing Landscape of Youth Culture

Religion plays a very important role in shaping the society. All religions have one basic ideology in that they strive to make the society a better place to live in. Religion teaches that there is always ultimate reward for the good people in the society and also punishment for the bad people and quite a large number of people in the society believe in the religion and they practice good ethics (Ivypanda, 2020). However, there is beginning to be a disconnect in this alliance as many youths seem to be exiting the religious teaching, what could be the reason? The youths have been described as very practical people and sometime are quick to see that most Church leaders actually preach wine and take water. Apart from lack of practice by what the church preaches other factors that have largely influenced youth lives include; globalization, technology, arts, football, wealth, fame, fashion among many others. The youths see this as more fun than what the religious institutions are offering. The religious institutions Should be keen on these changing trends in order to find a better framework/strategy in ministering to the youths.

According to the British Social Attitudes survey, more than half of the population say they ‘have no religion’. The figures for those who identified as having no religious affiliation have so far peaked at 53% – up from 31% when it was first recorded in 1983 – which leads me to wonder, what role does religion play in young people’s lives today (Guardian, 2017). According to Fritz (2018), The landscape of youth culture is changing, but the Church has not adapted to these changes. In fact, in some cases, parishes are implementing approaches to youth formation that haven’t been updated in more than four hundred years (Fritz, 2018). The mass exit of the youths can be explained by the way the intuitions respond to the changing landscape of youth culture, there seems to be a clear gap in the approach of religious institutions in the ever-changing youth world. The mass exit of youths has not been much experienced in African Countries but one can find out that most youths are found in Churches located in the slum and that bring another dimension in the understanding of what actually inspires religiosity among the youth population, this can prompt one to hesitantly refer to the most quoted Karl Marx statements that, “Religion is the opium for the poor”. I want to argue with the statement quoted in Mark 2:7, “on hearing this Jesus said to them, ‘it’s the sick not the health who need a doctor”. Either way there is need to be an informed strategy to deal with youth exist from religion based on the ever changing youths culture.

Religious institutions response to youth Challenges

Most youths view themselves according to the issues affecting them and sometimes the relevance of any institution can be measure on how they deal with issues affecting the youths. Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration (United Nations, 2019). This is a number that one cannot underestimated, the reality is that the youths in their numbers have not actually been put to task both by the government intuition and the Church institutions. Religious institutions have a role in positively responding to the youth’s challenges as a way to build a positive relationship and to transform society for the better.

Issues that affect the youths and that needs a resolute response from religious institution are many including; joblessness, risks of being recruited to terrorism( Darden, 2019). Crime  (Muhammad, 2008). One may say that crime in most cases in a response that the youths render to the dysfunctional societies. According to the UN (report), the alternative to a youth dividend is a youth bulge, which is characterized by high youth unemployment and widespread protests—a recipe for political instability. Pressure of 24 hr networking: ( (Griffiths, 2017). Negative Stereotyping, Lack Education: (United Nation, 2018) for instance Most families in Africa are suffer the pandemic of poverty so much so that they fail to even educate their kids leave alone supporting their families with basic needs. Pressure of Materialism: Materialist world means to study the economic and social life of man and the influence of materialistic things on person’s thinking and feelings (Marx’s, 1961). Two factors that enhance materialism were when people got any signal from friends, peers, parents and family members and the second factor comes when people feel insecure because of economic fears (Kasser, 2014). Parents and peers are the primary socializing agents which influence this lust among adolescents because they are the emotional and social support for a child and develop their self-esteem (Elsevier, 2010).

According to Gregory (2014), Materialistic trends among youth are increasing day by day, and according to one research the Americans shop twice than that of 55 years ago, and they have more luxuries and more money, but still their lust or craving for products is increasing rapidly. Consumer culture has influenced our societies, and it constructs the modern capitalism not only in the west but also in collectivist societies like Pakistan people are addicted towards this consumer culture (Alvi, 2014). The crisis comes in when you cannot you lack the capacity to maintain the materialistic/consumer world and the worst part is nobody is capable because, in a matter dominated world, ‘the more you get, the more you seek’ so much so that there is no point at which you say, ‘enough is enough’. People have stopped focusing on values which is the only balance where matter is concerned. Other challenges include; Trauma and Stigma, technology abuse, technology related issues, difficult environment like informal settlements, health challenges and death, substance abuse, identity crisis and low self-esteem and family issues for instance according to American Journal of Sociology-Family structure, educational attainment, and socioeconomic success: rethinking the “pathology of matriarchy by Biblarz, T.J. and Raftery, A. E. (1999), children from broken families have lower attainments in their academics and future life than children from two-parent families because they have had sustained exposure to their parents’ discord.

As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend in deed. It is the responsibility of the Government and religious institutions to analyze the underlying issues that affect the youths and to support them in coming up with practical solutions to their problems. My understanding is that the preaching is good but it is not sufficient, there is need to develop a practical framework that will resolve the crisis the so many youths go through. Some of the religious institutions have responded to youth’s challenges in diverse ways but there is still more to be done for a significant change to be registered.

Religious institutions approach to youth formation and Development

Youth empowerment has become an important issue that cannot be overlooked by any nation that aspires for development. Much importance is attached to the participation of youths because they serve as a good force in transforming the national socio-economic order (Idakpo, 2019). Religious influence on the youths begins from the families as effective parenting determines the kind of society that will develop when the parented children become citizens. Parents lead their children to religion where they are taught good and evil, dos and don’ts, moral ethics religious beliefs and so on (Ivypanda, 2020). The formation plays a fundamental role in youth’s perception of family and religion.

Positive youth development can be characterized by the constructs of the “5 C’s”—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring/compassion—leading youth to contribute positively to their communities (Lerner, 2005). A principal area that religious education can help empower youth is in the area of character promotion which has become a deepening concern in the society. Young people require personal and social skills to function confidently and competently with themselves, with people and the wider community (Idakpo, 2019). Has religion failed in effective formation young people? Fritz (2018), insists that lack of effort is not the problem based on so much effort that the Church has had for the youths but when further to ask that between the millions of dollars that the Church has invested in Catholic secondary education, and the time, talent, and treasure invested in youth ministry, young people get more attention from the Catholic Church than does any other ministry or demographic. Why is there so little return on that investment? More importantly, why is the Church failing to make young disciples?

The best summary of youth ministry in our Church today comes from Pope Francis in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium asserts that youth ministry, as traditionally organized, has also suffered the impact of social changes. Young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems, and hurts in the usual structures. As adults, we find it hard to listen patiently to them, to appreciate their concerns, demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand. For the same reason, our efforts in the field of education do not produce the results expected.

One of the major challenges for the disconnect between the youths and the religious is what has been referred to as the rigidity of the Church that has made the Church minister to meet the basic needs, and that is making young people to be the disciples. It is the prerogative of religion to build youth morality Moral behavior like honesty, integrity, respect for truth, tolerance for other people feelings, sexual control and responsible citizenship are essential ingredients for character development. These special abilities for adoptive and positive behavior are products of the human heart. These qualities cannot be enforced by the force of arm. This is to say they cannot exist in an individual (youth) if they do not first and foremost exist in their mind and heart (Idakpo, 2019). The failure lies in the analysis of the youths and the approach used in ministering to young people. In either way, the approach that ministers should adopt, must put youths at the center of the affairs.

How the Religious institutions support youth income generation?

In education according to United Nation (2019) report, 142 million youth of upper secondary age are out of school. In employment, 71 million young people are unemployed; and millions more are in precarious or informal work. Disparities within and between countries in education and employment among youth are stark, with gender, poverty, rurality, disability, and migrant/refugee status all being major elements of disadvantage. For instance, about 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries are working poor (ILO), while almost 30 per cent of the poorest 12- to 14-year old have never attended school. Education, work and work must bring money to the youths. The gap lies in the education systems, and work environments the does not make an economic difference in the lives of the youths. What has been the performance of the religion in helping the youth to earn and how has that affected religious engagement with the young people.

Joblessness is real but it is not the crisis, crisis is the conflict between need and lack. Many youths have needs that borders on clothing, travel, fashion, food, social networking among others, everything that require money but without a job where one can get the money. As if to add salt to an injury many youths especially in Africa are made to believe that jobs follow education but in the long run, that is not as easy as the youths were made to believe. It takes money, time and energy to hustle for job and still not get it. the frustration that come with it is more than the frustration that result from being stuck because the only thing you believed in to change your future (only education and only employment) is a failed undertaking. Religion are poor employers of youths and that places them as part of the problem. Religion must try to make count the efforts of young people and help them to translate the efforts into income that can help them to improve their living starndards.

Alexander Chikwanda, Zambia’s former finance minister, put it succinctly an interview: “Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb,” that now appears to be perilously close to exploding. The analogy draws attention to the consequences of high youth unemployment in a continent where about 10-12 million young people join the labor market each year (Ighobor, 2017). Vogel, 2015 nevertheless suggests that youth unemployment does not have to end in a catastrophe. But if we want to avoid a Generation Jobless we need to act quickly and implement both short-term solutions for today’s youth and long-term solutions to avoid repeating today’s crisis (Vogel, 2015). The gap of religion in some case is being utopic, believing that preaching is sufficient to change the lives of the youths. If religious practices and teaching cannot translate into the practical solution to the endless pain of the youth’s income gap, of what use is it?

According to the United Nations (2018) report, the situation is no any better, the report observes that youth employment has worsened in recent years. There are presently 71 million young people unemployed, and many millions more are in precarious or informal work. ILO estimates that 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries are living in poverty even though they are employed (United Nation, 2018) and now with Covid-19, the situation could be worse than it was in the past two years. Even though Ighobor in 2017 had indicated that young women feel the sting of unemployment even more sharply than young men. The AfDB found that in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa and all of those in North Africa, it is easier for men to get jobs than it is for women, even if they have equivalent skills and experience (Ighobor, 2017), the situation could be worse today for both gender. Even as it looks for practical solution to the youths in general, a special focus must be put on practical solution in the post covid-19 world and with special attention given to the most vulnerable gender.

Ighobor (2017) further observes that unemployment maybe is not the only issues here as even most of the employed suffer from underemployment making situations of the poor even worse. International Labor Organization (ILO), which reported in 2016 that up to 70% of African workers were “working poor,” the highest rate globally. The organization added that “the number of poor working youth has increased by as much as 80% for the past 25 years.” This situation could be worse now as many employment institutions were forced to reduce the number of staffs as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. While the impacts of unemployment is grave, it is always good to remain positive and there is nothing in this world that has no solution for instance Vogel (2015) asserted that even though there is no there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for youth unemployment, we need to build a plethora of customized solutions that each addresses one or more of the underlying issues (Vogel, 2015). Africa’s unemployment statistics exclude those in vulnerable employment and those who are under-employed in informal sectors. “Young people [in Africa] find work, but not in places that pay good wages, develop skills or provide a measure of job security,” reports the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank (Ighobor, 2017).The government and the religious institution have a role in managing the menace.

Religious institutions response peacebuilding

The so-called “peace sector” in Kenya is booming with many players and approaches, and the challenge for building lasting peace has complex links to Kenya’s dynamic religious communities. A wide range of faith actors and institutions in Kenya have long worked to foster peace and curtail or prevent different threats and forms of violence (World Faith Development Dialogue, 2015). Aquiline (2012), observes that the effort of peacebuilding requires partnership of institutions that bring together all dimensions of human experience. Integral approaches regard religion as one of the contributing institutions to social integration and harmony. To confirm the argument, a number of believers claim that political organizations cannot ignore the role of religion. Religion plays a central role in attitude and character formation. Working with the youths in the areas of peacebuilding is a way to pacify the youths and also empower them.

Religious institutions are of great importance to Kenyans’ lives based on the wide social influence and respect commanded by religious leaders. Unfortunately, Kenya has seen conflict masked with religion or religion used as a proxy for social and political battles. Religious difference sometimes has been blamed on the conflicts. In value-based conflicts, which tend to be framed as mutually exclusive and polarized, opposing parties believe there is no common ground on which to resolve conflict. Religious actors and faith communities, however, have intervened though in small measure by reversing value-based conflicts – and building on peace components found within religious traditions.

According to Aquiline (2012), Many people, especially the youth, have grown skeptical about the role and scope of religious communities in peacebuilding. Young people are aware that most of the destructive conflicts have been fueled by people who profess one faith or the other. In most cases, the religious institutions have simply failed to uphold their prophetic role. We have to acknowledge that the same religion that should peace ambassadors, have been at the hem of affairs in fueling violence through their exclusionist attitude that lead to lack of respect for other faiths and traditions, stifling imagination and limiting people’s cultural capacity to respectfully encounter and transcend identity and faith-based prejudice and conflict.

Kenya’s religious actors have responded to peacebuilding by building preventative measures, exercising their capacities for peace, and using early warning systems to extinguish fires before they start. Some religious institutions have also used their healing and reconciliation strategies and became wounded healers for the affected using religious teachings.

Kenya religious leaders have made efforts to deepen and broaden the understanding and appreciation of diverse faiths.” Religious communities by using existing structures and safe spaces have hosted dialogues on diversity, engaging men, women, girls, and boys to appreciate differences and accept the other. the challenge has been on the frequency and the inclusivity especially where youths are involved. Promoting dialogues that focuses on identities is important to help Kenyans discard prejudices and histories that are negative and undermine the human dignity of the other. it is important to promote positive religious identity elements in the face of division along identity lines and inclusivity especially with key conflict actors like the youths.

Apart from being intentionally inclusive with key actors in peacebuilding, faith actors can also facilitate dialogue with central and county governments, to acknowledge historical injustices. Justice must be sought transparently. “We need to facilitate common platforms, like Ufungamano House, that create unity and cohesion for a common purpose. Sustainable multi-faith platforms that use faith and a religious lens allow us to see each other with respect, trust, and keep moral questions in the open.”

Religious institutions response in promoting environmental consciousness

Spiritual leaders at all levels are critical to the success of the global solidarity for an ethical, moral and spiritual commitment to protect the environment and God’s creation. These leaders can become observers, make public commitments, share the story of their commitments and the challenges and joys of keeping them, and invite others to join them. In addition, they can display their sustainable behaviors, serving as role models for their followers and the public (UNEP, 2020)

The protection of the environment in embedded into the teaching of almost all the religious institutions. Example of Muslims reflection on the environment is “Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah.” (Qur’an 30:30). Example of Christianity reflection to the environment is “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” (Pope Francis, 2015). It is imperative for the Religious institution to promote behavior change that will ensure a collective responsibility in promoting environmental consciousness and a culture of environmental protection. Religious institutions have done a lot of preaching on how to remain conscious to the environment around you, however this has not yielded much as the practical action of leading by example has been a mismatch.

Ways in which religious world views form youth understanding of their own place in the world and inform their interactions with it.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that religion acts as a source of resiliency, a buffer against negative environmental influences (such as poverty and racial discrimination) leading to negative consequences (such as depression and delinquency). Religion acts as a source of resiliency by adding legitimacy to regulations against maladaptive behaviors and providing an adaptive alternative. Major religious belief systems contain prohibitions against substance use, promiscuity, violence, and stealing (Donahue & Benson, 1995).  Youth who internalize these values are less likely to engage in risk behaviors even when circumstances motivate them to do so.

Religion has a particularly strong effect on individual-level behavior in communities with a high proportion of residents attending religious services regularly, presumably because religion adds legitimacy to communitylevel as well as individual-level prohibitions against risk behavior. Young people adopt religious belief systems because of the personal benefits that religion and spirituality offer to them. In religious involvement, youth seek a sense of belonging and positive relationships with peers and adults in a religious community, and also a connection with God and higher powers which provides a sense of meaning and purpose. Considering religion and youth development from a lifespan perspective points to religious socialization, that is, how parents and others transmit religion and how youth construct and internalize it. In order for religion to impact youth development, religious socialization needs to take place (Sullivan & Aramini, 2019)

Young people’s individual religious choices are a product of their upbringing and of the available religious options. The most important factor, however, is youths own spiritual preferences and agency. Youths’ style of attachment to parents determines how likely they are to follow in their parents’ religious footsteps. Securely attached youth are likely to adopt the faith (or lack of faith) of their parents. Insecurely attached youth are likely to distance themselves from their parents either by ceasing religious attendance or by joining a different religious organization and seeking attachment and family there (Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990). Youth also change their pattern of religious involvement because of peer invitation or to avoid cliques, but peers do not have a strong influence on youths’ deeply held spiritual beliefs. When motivated to change religious affiliation, youth generally switch to as similar of organizations as they can find that have the desired characteristics that were missing in the ones they left.

The potential exists for youth spiritual and religious development to take a non-traditional trajectory toward a new religious movement. The potential for youth to become involved in cults is a legitimate cause for concern. However, the word “cult” as it is used conventionally encompasses both dangerous cults, which use deceptive recruiting practices and mind control and threaten proselytes with harm should they leave, and new religious movements (NRM’s), which have beliefs that are at variance with mainstream religions but are otherwise benign

Religion acts as a key social bond inhibiting criminal behaviors. Several studies dealing with samples of emerging adults support this idea and suggest religion as a social bond relevant for emerging adults. Theories, such as social control theory and the age-graded theory of social control, may want to add additional focus on religion as a social bond that offers a strong attachment to conventional society and may be useful in preventing offending during emerging adulthood and influencing desistance for those offending during this stage of the life course (Salvatore & Robin, 2018)

The ultimate responsibility of peacebuilding requires a holistic framework of reflection considering the current trends of violence in Africa. Such a situation links the process of peacebuilding to critical issues such as human rights, social justice, shared security, gender equality, economic empowerment and local capacities of self-organization. The claim that religion cherishes public values more strongly than any other institution, makes it a credible partner in the process of social reconciliation and peacebuilding (Aquiline, 2012)

In addition to respecting and encouraging a young person’s own spiritual agency, concerned adults must also guard youths’ religious and spiritual boundaries outside of the family. Christian “parents’ rights” activists pressure schools to withhold important sexuality and reproductive health information from youth, and schools are fully justified in upholding youths’ own right to accurate information. Parents’ rights groups also lobby against schools’ efforts to specifically address problems of victimization and harassment based on perceived sexual orientation. Schools are justified in resisting these efforts as well, upholding their responsibility to keep all youth safe and healthy.

Too often, religion in the lives of youth is ignored as of marginal importance, or becomes a means by which adults carry out their agendas for youth. Rather than specifying a role for youth in adult politics and institutions that is not necessarily in the youths’ best interests, a youth development perspective on religious and spiritual development calls for concerned adults to respect young people’s own agenda. Ultimately, the religious institutions that grow will be those that relevant to, attentive to the needs of, and a worthy investment for youth.




The discussions above have established that in as much as religion stand at a better position of influence in the lives of young people, that special position for religion has not been sufficiently exploited as many religious institutions still have a gap in their perception of young people, in their response to their problem in their flexibility to the youth changing cultural dynamics, in their youth empowerment approach and in their approach to peacebuilding and environmental management. Such gaps in the previous engagements have soared the youths bond with religion and risk creating youths whose world views take no notice of rich-religious values, teachings and practices. The religious institution must there undergo a revolution on its approaches to the youths in order that they may be able to inspire and rebuild new trust with the youths.


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