A few weeks ago I was privileged to be among the 14 young Kenyans selected from over 700 applications for the Political Leadership and Governance Programme (PLGP). It is funded by a non-profit German foundation which is committed to the advancement of both socio-political and economic development in the spirit of social democracy, through civic education, research, and international cooperation.
The training started on Monday with introduction by Maria Okong’o who succinctly laid out the history and objectives of PLGP. Among the notable alumni from the program are Kandara MP Alice Wahome, Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru, Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, Senate Majority Leader and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Onesmus Murkomen, Emerging Leaders Foundation Founder Caren Wakoli, Acting Nairobi County Assembly Speaker and Ngara Ward MCA Chege Mwaura, nominated Nyandarua MCA Wanjiku Muhoho, Irene Mwangi ,a Public Policy Specialist and 2017/18 Chevening scholar at University of Reading and Youth County Projects Founder Violet Mbiti among others.
Later Titus Kaloki took us through Social Democracy, it’s values (freedom, justice/equity and solidarity) and how it can be achieved through sound economic policies to achieve growth, social balance and sustainability. During this session we watched a DW documentary on the myth of free trade. A key observation was how developed countries have embraced positive protectionism to protect some of their industries from cheap imports. Of particular interest was the Swiss government that imposes a duty of 3 Swiss Francs per 100Kg of strawberries during off peak which is later increased to 510 Swiss Francs during their harvest season which practically implies a total ban.
In groups we were to pick one of the items in the Big Four Agenda and suggest how the implementation should be carried out in a social democratic state. Our group, whose members were Marylize ( Human Rights Activist), Felix SK Syomane ( Former Maseno University Student Leader and currently empowering communities in Kitui County), Francis Oyondi (A trade Unionist from Kwale County) and Halima Ibrahim (a 2015 /2016 Chevening Alumni at Queen Mary University of London currently running her own legal firm) tackled Food Security and Nutrition. We were able to come up with a people’s driven food policy that ensures access to nutritious food that is affordable to all regardless of income status. This could be achieved through policies and programs that would assist small scale farmers who constitute 70% of Kenyan rural poor who often go hungry to increase their productivity and commercialize their activities.
We had sessions on personal development by Caren Wakoli (Founder and Executive Director of Emerging Leaders Foundation Africa), a certified leadership coach and trainer who has extensive experience working with young people to be positive change agents in their communities.
We also had an excursion to the Uasin Gishu County Assembly where among other things we learnt, how they are helping farmers diversify from maize into other high value crops in a sustainable way.