Children and Youth Empowerment Center - Nyeri, Kenya Community Assessment

The eco-village was the brainchild of the Children and Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC) located in Nyeri, Kenya. This organization was established as a model center and was charged by the Government of Kenya to:
1. develop standards of provision for the nearly 300,000 street-dwelling children in Kenya,
2. to establish a sustainability strategy for programs that care for such children, and
3. to develop an effective exit strategy for the children upon departure from these programs.
This project, the establishment of a system of eco-villages, is to address the third issue – that of program exit. The sustainable villages are to not only to house the youth, but also train them in useful technologies to prepare them for productive lives, to train surrounding farmers in appropriate technologies, and to offer business development and entrepreneurial training to potential entrepreneurs.

CYEC and Eco-Villages
With a national unemployment rate of roughly 40%, the transition from residential care to independent living has been a significant challenge for former street-dwelling children and youth. This is because such individuals not only have to contend with the challenges facing the general population but also the challenges of stigmatization by society. This initiative by CYEC will address a significant social and economic challenge in Kenya and other parts of the developing world: the social and economic reintegration of street dwelling children and youth. The proposed CYEC initiative will have three key and unique foci:
1. Providing a stable and responsive environment for highly vulnerable young people;
2. Modeling a system of social, economic and technological organization that is progressive and self-sustaining,
3. Implementing an entrepreneurship and appropriate technology education model for community training and engagement.

The idea is to assist youth graduating from the CYEC to become independent and self-reliant even when immediate employment is not available.

How Eco-Villages Present an Interesting Package
The proposed eco-village project has three key attributes which makes it ideal for our development effort: it is replicable, sustainable, and scalable. To accomplish these goals, partnerships have been formed with UNITO, government ministries, universities, church groups and local industry and business – a diverse group of champions of the project.

A special attraction of the proposed eco-villages will be:
1. the technology used for their construction, a
2. agricultural production and operation, and
3. their system of social and economic organization.

The design and building of the eco-village will include low-cost
innovative building technology, water harvesting and management methods, clean and renewable energy production techniques and sustainable waste handling approaches.

Agricultural production and processing will play a central role in both providing food and generating income for the eco-villages.

The associated tourism initiative shall be developed into a niche service (demonstrating a future-oriented sustainable agriculture-based livelihood option) that generates income and that engages the students at JKUAT and PSU with practical challenges both in the engineering and social sciences.

Entrepreneurship programs based on locally available resources will be a key component of the sustainability of the eco-villages. Workshops and educational outreach will be incorporated into the village core mission with an eye towards business development and accessing microfinancing for small business.