A Capability Enhancement Initiative for Nairobi Urban Slum Youth in Kenya: A Case Study of Mathare Youth Sports Association Approach in Mathare

Jamin Shitsukane Muliru


A high rate of urbanization has been witnessed in the recent past, with urban population exceeding rural population. Consequently there is rising spread of slums in the world, more so in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the urban population, youth form the largest group. Unfortunately, the urbanization is without proportional opportunities for the youth. The illusion of going to the cities for better opportunities has instead become a source of marginalization which has catapulted them into desperation and poverty. The paper is based on capabilities as derived from Capabilities Approach by Amartya Sen (1993) and developed further by Ingrid Robeyns (2003).In the light of the foregoing, youth lack basic capabilities. This has consequently reflected adversely to their ability to fend for themselves. It is argued in this paper that youth can cause and propel development, but are hampered by lack of enhancement of their capabilities, by means to effectively engage them. In recognition of youth potential capabilities to cause development, Mathare Youth sports Association (MYSA) is using sports and community service as youth engagement formulae for the purpose of developing the said capabilities for urban slum youth in Nairobi, Kenya. This is referred to as MYSA Approach (MYSAA). The study then follows up MYSAA as used among Mathare slum youth to understand how it is used to improve youth capabilities and to learn from it. This serves as an eye opener to other institutions to think out best formulae to engage youth. It also contributes to development studies as an input in the current debates about youth, their numbers and contribution to development. Conclusively, the study enabled understanding of how MYSAA is utilized, its impact on urban slum youth capabilities and their lives in general and Mathare community. Lessons learned then inform that youth capability enhancement is possible given opportunities, but require a friendly and relevant concept so as to give them the space to contribute to development. On the basis of the findings the study has made proposals regarding youth and capability enhancement for development.

Keywords: Capability, Enhancement, Youth

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