Lessons Learnt from Mathare Youth Capability Enhancement Initiative: A Case of Mathare Youth Sports Association Approach, Kenya

Jamin Shitsukane Muliru


It is acknowledgeable that there is a wide range of work and research that has been done in the areas of capability improvement. However, deficiencies in other aspects of it remain unaddressed. For example, there is this need to do an analysis of the role of approaches of youth capability enhancement such as MYSAA. Whereas youth population is rising, no proportional creation of opportunities is being realized. The capability approach is a broad normative framework for evaluation of well-being and social arrangements in the case of this paper. The main characteristic of capability approach is what people are effectively able to do and to be i.e. their capabilities (Robeyns 2003a). Based on this thinking, development require individuals with capabilities hence its importance to youth. There are an estimated one billion young people, 15 to 24 years of age around the world (Tsegaye 2006). Kenyans living in urban centers increased from 5.1 per cent in 1948 to 15.1 per cent in 1979, to 18.0 per cent in 1989 and to 34.8 per cent in 2000. There are currently 194 urban centres in Kenya, with 45 per cent of the urban population residing in Nairobi (Gok 1996, 2001). 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. It is on the basis of this study that we seek to identify the lessons that can be learnt from the Mathare youth capability enhancement initiative.

Keywords: Lessons, Youth, Capacity Enhancement

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