NAIROBI, KENYA - MARCH 17, 2010: Volunteers with Usafi Youth Group pilfer shoes and other salvageable items from trash mounds in Kibera slum. The group digs grave-like pits to clear out waste and open plots for sustainable agriculture projects on top of the newly fertilized earth.
Various grassroots initiatives led by youth have begun to improve the quality of life for those living in the direst of conditions, and young people of different tribes are using gardening, waste removal, education and athletics to encourage their peers toward a self-respecting and self-sustaining community. Termed “youth groups” on the street, these initiatives could represent the future of long-term socioeconomic development in Kenya while laying the groundwork for a more peaceful election in 2013. During the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008, impoverished youth in Kenya were routinely bribed by the nation's political elite to carry out acts of violence in their communities. Idleness among the youth, combined with the nation's history of tribal rivalries, were cited as a key factors to the violence, culminating in the deaths of over 1,200 Kenyans and the displacement of over 600,000. Since the violence, many youth have begun to seize active roles in the reform of their nation. In 2010 United States Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said he sensed “a sea change of attitude” among youths, “a tidal wave below the surface. The youth have woken up.”