Leaders from Northeastern have been urged to educate residents on the need to form groups to be eligible for government grants.
Youth Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh said grants uptake by registered groups, both women and youth, from Northeastern is way below that of the rest of the country.
She said the region risks lagging behind further in development if this trend continues.
Shebesh spoke in Masalani town on Thursday during the launch of Huduma Mashinani programme.
She said leaders’ words are taken seriously and they should take campaign for more women to join and register groups.
“Whereas we give the entire Garissa county Sh5 million, Kakamega receives Sh33 million and Uasin Gishu gets Sh56 million. Going by this huge disparity, is Garissa really part of Kenya? This is a challenge I present to leaders,” Shebesh said.
She said the grants could also help fight radicalisation and recruitment by al Shabaab because young men will engage in business and lift living standards.
Most of the youths join al Shabaab out of desperation as they lack means of getting income.
Shebesh also urged residents to seize opportunities presented by the government by applying for grants through the Uwezo Fund and the Women’s Enterprise Fund.
Ijara MP Sophia Abdinoor urged the government to relax conditions for loans, saying it is one reasonwomen and youth fail to take loans.
“Leaders would wish to have as many people as possible accessing these loans. But residents get frustrated as they are unable to meet the conditions,” she said.
In July, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said the number of young Kenyans joining terror groups like al Shabaab had declined significantly.
KNCHR head Benard Mogesa urged the government to ensure the youth are engaged, saying joblessness pushes them to join terror groups.
Mogesa said it was unfortunate that rehabilitated youths and returnees still face stigma from communities. They still view them as a threat and people who cannot be changed into better citizens.
“There is need for integration and inculcation of values to make them feel loved and appreciated by the community,” Mogesa said.
Some families have complained that their relatives who voluntarily return and surrender to the police disappear and are found murdered.
Police say they do not ‘disappear’ and murder anyone.