1,102 youth in arid zones gain vocational skills to quit cattle theft

Some of the 1,102 youth who benefitted from the Ujuzi Manyattani programme are busy at work.

1,102 youth in arid areas have been trained in various vocational and entrepreneurship skills in a bid to ensure they completely quit cattle rustling.

This is after education stakeholders realized that majority of youth in the remote areas had taken up cattle rustling as a way of life and means for raising income.

The initiative, spearheaded by Northern Rangelands Trust Trading (NRTT), is being implemented in partnership with local polytechnics which formed mobile units to take the skills training to Manyattas around various conservancies in the region.

One of the beneficiaries Simon Leteipa said he did not find anything wrong with cattle rustling, which seemed an easy way of making ends meet.

After all, the majority of his peers were hooked to the practice, which they considered an income generating activity.

But at one point, Leteipa, who escaped death by a whisker when he accompanied his peers on a cattle-rustling mission, thought it wise to quit the vice.

TVET PS Esther Muoria looks on as some of the youth repair a motorcycle in Isiolo.

The 24-year old mechanic based at Ngaremara near Isiolo town opted to look for something that would guarantee him income.

He enrolled in some technical skills training programme and established a motorcycle repair business, which has become a reliable source of income.

“I was involved in cattle rustling and other illegal activities because it is the only work we knew. But I am happy I am out of it now,” said Leteipa.

He was speaking during a graduation ceremony for 140 youth who underwent training in various technical courses under ‘Ujuzi Manyattani’, an initiative that uses a vocational training delivery model in which polytechnics place trainers in remote areas to work with the youth.

Leteipa said that on a good day, he can repair four motorcycles and earn enough to support himself and his family.

“Now the people call me Engineer Simon because I do the repairs with the precision of a qualified engineer,” he said.

Ali Mohamed from a village neighbouring Leparua Conservancy said that previously he spent time blogging for local politicians and relied on handouts from them.

Ali Mohamed at his phone repair shop in Isiolo.

Together with his peers, they spent time hurling insults on social media in favour of their preferred politicians and sometimes engaged in demonstrations.

In October last year, he got an opportunity to be trained in mobile phone repair and he grabbed the opportunity.

Now he runs a busy mobile repair and retail shop in Isiolo town.

“This is quick, clean income. By December, I had already started my business and I have employed two youth. Right now I have a repair machine and some critical mobile phone parts that are rarely found in Isiolo. Previously, we travelled to Meru or Nairobi to buy the spare parts but I have them stocked in my shop today,” Mohamed said.

Amina Kassim, another beneficiary, was trained in catering and now can cook various foods for sale.

“I am very happy because previously I was just staying at home and taking care of my baby. Now I can do that and earn something out of it,” Kassim said.

The initiative by NRTT was implemented in partnership with local polytechnics which formed mobile units to take the skills training to Manyattas around various conservancies in the region.

Vishal Shah, the CEO at Mashinani Works, said at least 1,102 young people have so far gained various vocational skills and received entrepreneurship training since the programme began.

“There was a 99 per cent completion rate. In our assessment, the youth can earn an average of Ksh8,840 in monthly income, generating over Ksh97 million in potential cash flow into the local economy annually,” Shah said.

State Department for TVET Principal Secretary (PS) Esther Muoria said the programme has economically empowered those in arid and semi-arid areas and has the added advantage of promoting security.

TVET PS Esther Muoria awards a certificate to one of the beneficiaries in a past event.

Dr Muoria noted that with the Interior ministry now fighting bandits and cattle rustling, the youth have to take advantage of the training opportunities to improve their lives.

She said the beneficiaries receive certificates from the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).

“Beyond just acquiring technical skills, this programme is about fostering creativity, critical thinking and resilience,” she said.


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