Kisumu Youth and Development was founded in 2008, after the violence of the general election in which more than 1,600 people were killed and 300,000 forced to flee their homes. It is youth-led and organised, a creation of the Yes Youths Can Project, which is a National Youth Movement with the overall aim of positively engaging Kenyan young people so that they can take the lead in social, economic and political development. Like every district leadership of the Yes Youth Can Project, Kisumu registered itself under its own name, with unique and specific objectives responding to its local context.
Kisumu's overall goal is to promote a fair and just political, social and economic environment, and support youths in their personal development and for that of Kenyan society. Its work include running programmes itself, as well as lobbying for progressive and responsive legislation, attendant to the key lesson of much of Kenyan violence: young people play the key role, both as agents and victims of violence. Manipulated and incited by community and political leaders to attack other communities and political competitors, they were by far the most active elements in the 2007 and 2008 violence. Kisumu seeks to help prevent youth from being misused as political goons and thugs by political elites.
Kisumu has run many activities in partnership with USAID and World Vision-Kenya. Currently working with 1,295 registered youth groups, representing all seven constituencies in Kisumu Country, its approaches aim to mobilise young people and their communities to address injustice, and youth and ethnic marginalisation. They include youth dialogue forums, peace walks and reconciliation forums among divided people. All of these activities try to maximise the involvement and participation of young people. They constitute the largest part of the Kenyan population, and a disproportionately large number of them are involved in violence.
There are a wide variety of factors that make youth a target for misuse by political leaders, including high unemployment, a continuing cycle of poverty, lack of access to finance, and discrimination.
One key success story is in economic empowerment. With the international partners above, Kisumu has managed to support 380 registered youth groups with grants. Approximately 7,600 young people have been able to increase their income as a result of the income generating activities they started with the help of the grant. 72% of the supported youth groups have succeeded in sustaining and expanding their projects, which is gradually changing their engagement with and commitment to society. This has helped to reduce the attraction of violence as a livelihood.