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Kuinama trend: Survival measures among youth to navigate tough economic realities

A new trend is sweeping through the youth in Nairobi as they grapple with the relentless surge in commodity prices that directly impact their living conditions.

In the face of economic challenges, a growing number of young individuals find themselves resorting to a phenomenon known as Kuinama, essentially translating to skipping meals.

The struggle for adequate nutrition is intensified by the triple threat of inflation, unemployment, and meagre wages, forcing many youths to turn to online money-lending platforms for survival.

With unemployment prevalent and precarious gig work barely covering their basic needs, a significant portion of the youth population in Nairobi lives hand-to-mouth.

The reliance on debts, particularly from mobile loans, becomes a primary strategy for survival, leading to a juggling act with loans from various sources, including banks, friends, and Shylocks who hold significant sway over those desperate for a meal.

Abigael Muthee shared her predicament with Nairobi News, describing a cycle of borrowing to offset existing debts.

“I keep borrowing to pay off debts. It feels like a trap I can’t escape,” laments Muthee, who initially harbored hopes for change.

However, the relentless price surge, coupled with harassment from county officers as she tries to sell her merchandise, leaves her with limited options, forcing her to keep borrowing in the hope of a breakthrough to settle her debts.

On the other side of the spectrum, Alfred Mwendo, a motorbike rider in Nairobi, places blame on the government for making life increasingly difficult for young people.

With limited job opportunities, heavy taxes, loans, and soaring fuel prices, survival becomes an ongoing challenge.

“Surviving as an unemployed youth in Kenya is tough and painful, facing harassment from all directions without anyone to shield us from the pain,” explains Mwendo.

The country’s heavy dependence on fuel further compounds the financial strain on the youth, creating a challenging economic environment. The overarching question arises: why subject them to such hardships without offering substantial assistance?

Kenya’s youth find themselves in an unenviable position, encountering obstacles from the government without commensurate support.

The lack of job opportunities, mounting loan pressures, and escalating costs paint a bleak picture for the country’s future leaders.