April 28, 2015
UN-Habitat in partnership with Ericsson Research, Samsung C&T, Community Chest of Korea and Strathmore University hosted the Urban Challenge Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya as part of UN-Habitat’s Innovate Kenya Project. The workshop brought together youth representatives from Nairobi based tech start-ups and NGOs and county government representatives to collectively identify some of the main challenges faced in Kenya in regards to young engagement in governance at the county level, with a particular focus on urbanization issues.
Dr. Joseph Sevilla, from iLabAfrica, a research institute with a focus on ICT, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business Development hosted in Strathmore University kicked off the day at the Urban Challenge Workshop, “This workshop aims to explore how young people are using technology to engage in governance. The more we include youth in the governance of the different counties; the better will be the feedback for government authorities. Counties can get better insights on what’s really happening in the ground with the real people living there.”
Helene Opsal, from UN-Habitat Youth Unit presented the Innovation Marketplace to the group. “This project seeks to build capacity at the county level in Kenya around the use of ICTs as a tool for good governance and youth engagement, ultimately institutionalizing innovative solutions to enhance citizen engagement.”
Markus Nyberg, from Ericsson Research introduced the concept of “networked societies” and presented some of the cutting edge innovations and trend identified in Kenya. You can learn more about the concept of “networked societies” at http://www.ericsson.com/thinkingahead
Caroline Mutua, also from iLabAfrica presented some of the inspiring case studies we came across during our stocktaking exercise. If you want to learn more about how youth have been using ICT to create change in their communities in Kenya, check our Caroline’s presentation: UN-Habitat Stocktaking Presentation
After the introductions were done, it was time to get to work, and participants of the Urban Challenge Workshop were divided into groups which mixed youth and county representatives to start to identify burning challenges they face in their counties related to Economy, City Planning, Governance and Basic Services.
The groups had the opportunity to reflect about the roots of the different problems identified during the workshop, some of the insights from the groups:
- The group discussing Basic Services reminded us that there are different needs in different settlements, and the importance of being mindful of the differences between income categories. The group recognized the need for more mapping initiatives, which will enable authorities to identify gaps and plan services such as transport, health and the use of public spaces. “ICT solutions should address a certain need that is important to the population and it should be available to the people who need the service. It should be simple to use and it should indicate responsibilities.”
- The group discussing City Planning raised some of the challenges faced in Kenya, which included: traffic jams, housing and shelter, inclusion of urban poor in the city design, water and sanitation in the different parts of the city and the lack of open spaces to name few. “There is also a lack of youth engagement in planning for urban development at the county level; youth do not participate in urban planning. Some of the reasons for this are that people can’t afford to participate due to transportation costs or taking a day off work. There is a need to bridge the gap between policy makers and youth; some structures for youth participation exist but they are misused as political tools and do not provide young people with a meaning channel to have their voices heard.
- The group discussing Economy highlighted the fact that “there is a mismatch between youth aspirations, the education opportunities available and the skills required by the labor market”, “ICTs could represent an opportunity for counties to develop dynamic channels that will enable them to receive better insight on the situation among unemployed young people. Counties need to make sure that the information available is youth friendly, and they should try to feature some of the good practices, for example some of the youth groups that have been able to access procurement opportunities, highlighting why they were successful.”
- The Group discussing Governance, endorsed what was raised by all the previous groups, but emphasized that “youth are not being included in the planning of major projects which generate all sorts of problems, for instance, Kibera railway line was uprooted because youth were not included in discussions around the purpose of the railway lines”.
After all the groups reported back, it was time to dig deeper into the issues/problems raised and to try formulating “challenge statements” which will be taken forward into the Hackathon that will be organized later on this year as part of the Innovation Marketplace, and will bring together different stakeholders to work on ICT based solutions to the challenges identified.
If you want to learn more about the initiative, check out Helene’s presentation at the workshop at: https://prezi.com/dagb3y9p6adb/innovation-marketplace/
And if you want to learn more about the opportunity ICTs represent for youth engagement in governance, make sure you check out UN-Habitat Youth Report on “ICT, Urban Governance and Youth”. at: http://issuu.com/unhabitatyouthunit/docs/ict_urban_governance_and_youth_vers
Also, make sure you check some of the pictures of workshop on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153729025287119.1073741840.300677777118&type=1&l=3424fec870