Category Archives: Special Events

Youth Come Together to Tackle the Challenges of Political and Economic Exclusion in Africa

Nairobi, November, 2017 – Youth, diplomats and high profile public figures came to the United Nations Office of Nairobi today to attend the first session of Young African Think’rs (YAT) Convention.

Hosted by UN-Habitat, the Young African Think’rs Convention will run for three days of intense brainstorming where African youth will generate sustainable solutions to foster Africa‟s development.

Wangu Mwenda, Project Designer for the Billion Startups project, gave opening remarks to start the session pointing out that “It is a critical time that governments and organizations come out to jointly support the youth as problem solvers for tomorrow’s issues toward the transformation of Africa.”

Business Man and Philanthropist, Dr. Manu Chandaria with youth after giving a talk Young African Think’rs Convention

Businessman and Philanthropist Dr. Manu Chandaria said that the coming together for youth as urban thinkers was a reminder that “Young people have the energy and are very able to get Africa organized.”

Speaking during the opening of the convention, Dr. Manu Chandaria challenged hundreds of youth saying, “It is an economic challenge for youth to sit at home thinking about issues affecting their continent, and doing nothing about it! Youth must open up their minds to find new solutions that work to solve current urbanization issues”

Christine Musisi, Director for External Relations, UN-Habitat spoke to the youth through a shared conference video emphasizing on the need for youth to take charge on urbanization, “Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent globally, yet its urbanization is unplanned.”

The creativity, energy and innovation of Africa’s youth shall be the driving force behind the continent’s political, social, cultural and economic transformation.”– Agenda 2063/ Aspiration 6:58

The session went on to include discussions with youth groups on how to utilize the untapped creativity of Africa youth to fuel the on-going transformation and realize the anticipated urbanization in Africa.

Meanwhile the Youth as Peace builders Forum themed at UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial taking place in Vancouver enters day two today with high level representative staff of UN-Habitat.

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Peace, Progress and Employment Opportunities for Youth

GC26

Courtesy of Rhoda Omenya, UN-Habitat

‘Opportunities for the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) – an apt theme of the twenty-sixth session of the Governing Council (GC26) delving into prospects for attaining the NUA – a global roadmap setting global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities by fostering cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as the private sector.

Commitments have been made in the NUA such as: “Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The New Urban Agenda calls on local governments to take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, older persons, indigenous people, among other groups.

With this in mind, experts and practitioners from the UN, World Bank, private sector, and national and local government; were brought together to deliberate in a side event dubbed Combating Poverty and Promoting Peace through Job Creation Opportunities for Young Men and Women in African Cities that took place on 8th May 2017.

John Sibi Okumu, a Kenyan media consultant, editor and translator; moderated the event that began with a moment of silence and remembrance for the late H.E. Abass Siraji, Somali Minister of Public Works, Housing and Reconstruction, who was killed in an accident involving bodyguards of another government official. The late Abass, who was Somalia’s youngest member of cabinet, was to give the keynote address that was given by Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda.

Mr. Mohieldin shared on the World Bank’s researches on Africa showing dense and disconnected cities that are expensive for households. Further city growth in Africa has not in tandem with economic growth as is the case in Asian nations such as China and Vietnam. He also shared on the collaborations that World Bank has with UN-Habitat such as – municipal finance. Improved municipal finance, infrastructure investment and improved land management as some of the key action points for policy makers to focus on in light of sustainable growth of cities. Moreover, he emphasized on the need to incorporate technology in order to gain the involvement of youth in city growth.

‘Before proposing a new idea, it is useful to eliminate existing bad ideas’ – Mr. Mohieldin.

Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat then thanked all participants of the side event, welcomed them to GC26 and specifically to the discussion on youth, women and jobs.

Her opening remarks were followed by a case study presentation on Shaqeso  Training Programme – part of the Youth Employment Programme (YES) in Somalia. As an integrated 3 month training programme targeting youth aged between 17 and 25 – launched in Oct 2016; YES aims to capitalize on recent security, governance and reconciliation achievements in Somalia. Through the programme youth acquire comprehensive life skills, construction skills training, how to build your own business, among others. Through the programme Mogadishu youth are able to meet, socialize an acquire skills that will increase their employability given the bleak employment landscape in Somali especially for youth and more so in the formal sector.

The case study presentation was part of a moderated discussion on the same by a panel comprising:

  • Ms. Aminata Traore, Former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mali
  • Mr. Nick Langford, Country Head, Kenya, Tatu City
  • Ms. Mary Kawar, Director, ILO Country Office, East Africa
  • Ms. Margaret Koli, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board
  • Joyati Das, Senior Director, Urban Programs, World Vision International

Here are some snippets of their comments:

  • Ms. Aminata Traore: ‘The more important thing is to question the economic model. Is it creating jobs? If the economy is not able to create jobs, then the country is in trouble. Peace building starts by job creation’.
  • Mr. Nick Langford: ‘Kenya’s most pressing problem is youth unemployment’.
  • Ms. Mary Kawar: ‘African women have a higher economic participation in comparison to the Arab States and yet the work is not paying enough. Peacebuilding has direct implications on labor relations – fair working conditions for everyone (both employer and employee)’.
  • Ms. Margaret Koli: ‘Collaboration among young people has resulted in a myriad of innovations’.
  • Joyati Das: ‘With guidance and active involvement, youth can become peace builders’.

Throughout the session, the emerging theme was that youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today and they matter. When equipped with the right tools and given opportunities to lead, youth are catalysts of progress and peace.

In his last speech at TEDxMogadishu 2017, the late H.E. Abass emphasized the importance of young people in rebuilding a nation. Before he finished the talk, Abass posed a very emotional question: “Everyone should ask themselves, what can you do for your country?

We ask: “What can you do for your youth?”

 

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Teenage soccer player Jibril Kafi Ahmed has his eyes on the prize despite challenges facing Somalia

Our second featured interview to celebrate the Somali Youth Day is with a football enthusiast Ahmed. He too, is a member of Mogadishu One Stop Youth Center, who values the space as a place to to play, learn and grow. UN-Habitat recognizes the importance of public spaces to practice sports and interact with peers and this is why:

Sixteen-year-old Jibril Kafi Ahmed is a budding soccer player, who is already making a mark in his country Somalia, despite the instability caused by years of war.

Growing up in his neighborhood, in the capital’s Yaqshid district, Ahmed was denied the opportunity for normal upbringing, as he was confined indoors, due to insecurity caused by terror group Al-Shabaab.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions were a common feature of his childhood; while the sound of a bouncing football that he so much craved was just a mirage.

The challenges of growing up in a violent environment did not dim his desire to be a soccer player. As he grew older and as the security situation in Somalia improved, he started playing soccer.

Now a member of the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, which engages youth in sports, Ahmed finds himself in an enviable position, to advance his dreams.

The high school student, who cuts a lanky figure, says being a member of a sports team such as the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ comes with many benefits. And so does sports, which he adds, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and is a great platform for promoting peace and unity in society.

The shy youth, who would have been lured into crime, had he not joined the Centre, is a testimony that positive living produces great dividends.

“I appeal to the youth who are with Al-Shabaab or other militant groups to quit and join the government forces”, Ahmed says, in his message to youth who have joined criminal gangs such as terror group Al Shabaab.

“I plead with them to stop harming people because the country needs them. I also plead with them to stop fighting, as it does not add value to their lives”, he says.

Since joining the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, Ahmed’s his life has changed for the better.

“I look forward to playing for one of the top clubs in Europe”, he concludes during an interview.

The young man is unfazed by the instability in his country and has hopes to excel as an athlete and join the hall of fame, like Somalia born Olympian gold medalist Mo Farrah.

The ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ is an initiative led by UN-Habitat with the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) as part of the Youth Employment Somalia programme.

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Youthful Najmo Sa’eed Mire’s hope for peaceful co-existence in Somalia lies in sports

To celebrate the Somali Youth Day (15th May), UN-Habitat would like to highlight interviews with two young Somalis – beneficiaries of the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, an initiative between the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) and UN-Habitat, which equips youth with vocational skills.

Najmo Sa’eed Mire strongly believes sport is the pathway to nurturing engaged youth and extols the immense power of sport in promoting peace and erasing clan differences, which continue to bedevil Somalia.

“Sports will help unite the people and once there is unity you have peace,” said Najmo, a twenty-one year old resident of Warta-nabada district in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

“Sports has a positive impact and both men and women can take part. It knows no borders,” she observed.

Najmo also noted that sports is capable of enhancing unity and discouraging youth from joining violent extremist organizations, blamed for the country’s security challenges.

Her great love for sports, illustrated in her participation in a cheering squad, during a football match at the Mogadishu One Stop Centre, explains her deep conviction in the positive attributes of sports.

With relative peace in the capital city, many youth are able to engage in various sporting activities. At the height of the biting drought, the youth have gone a step further and pulled resources to help communities affected by drought.

“As students we did our best to contribute to drought victims with the support of our teachers. In our neighborhoods, we collected money and other items for drought victims living in Garasbaley area and Yaqshid district. This was possible because sports brought us together and unified us,” Najmo explained.

While raising a white card to peace in Somalia, she appealed to the youth to take sports and education seriously and stay away from crime.

“I urge my fellow youths to reject crime and other unlawful activities and choose sports instead to help promote peace, love and unity. Together we shall succeed,” she says.

Najmo looks forward to the day when armed militia who kill and maim with reckless abandon, will dispose of their weapons and join peace-loving Somalis, in promoting peace through sports and other social activities.

“Youths do love sports. If the youth can agree on the type of sport they want to play, they can as well agree to unite and promote peace, which is good for the nation,” Najmo adds.

New feature at GC! Welcome to the SDGs Digital Media Zone!

For the first time ever, we’ve brought the SDGs Digital Media Zone to the UN-Habitat’s Governing Council. The SDGs Media Zone is a platform for editors, bloggers, content creators and influencers to communicate innovations, partnerships and discussions as a call to action for humanity to engage the Sustainable Development Goals. Inspired by the original model developed by the Pvblic Foundation, and heavily supported by their incredible team, we have adapted the plan to create a space to talk about everything important, highlight the best practices from the field and discuss the role of young people in the New Urban Agenda and other global processes. All of these have been captured on short videos and posted across our social media, powered by #GC26, #Cities4All and #SDGLive.

The team of dedicated volunteers enthusiastically interviewed our special guests, ranging from government officials, ambassadors, civil society representatives, partners and of course, youth. Everyone had something interesting to say or share and we can only encourage you to watch the full videos of the interviews as there are some interesting stories right there! Find out how Colombia is planning to include young people in the peacebuilding process or how a small NGO is fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. You will not regret!

Links to the videos:

http://fb.me/26e8iIKNu  (Norwegian Youth Delegate, Aleksander Gjøsæter)

http://fb.me/8pnVDPvb4  (Colombian Ambassador to Kenya, her Excellency Ms. Elizabeth Taylor)

http://fb.me/1Ozv7cQW0 (Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Housing and Urban Spaces, Ms. Fatna Chihab)

http://fb.me/3mxqMP0rf (SENA-Colombia representative, Ms. Luisa Fernanda Gallo)

http://fb.me/6AFHqQSHZ  (AIESEC Representative, Ms. Tanya – Part 1)

http://fb.me/1aiq9FKLI  (AIESEC Representative, Ms. Tanya- Part 2)

http://fb.me/4ltFnLy0a (North East Youth Coalition organization (Nigeria) representative, Mr. Ballisum Luka)

http://fb.me/62p1B0gzy (Mr. Alfred Otieno from Police is My Brother Initiative organization).

http://fb.me/1ma2GOdAU (Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, Life Skills trainer, Mr. Abdikadir Dubow Mohamed)

http://fb.me/yAsz4udh (UN-Habitat Somalia Programme, National Programme Officer, Mr. Liban Mallin)

http://fb.me/11xD73Fqi (National Environment Management Authoritative in Kenya, Mr. Kimani Muruku)

https://www.facebook.com/youthfund/

 

 

 

GC26 Youth Events Programme

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Join the conversation by using #Cities4All.

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Young People at the Centre of the New Urban Agenda

UN-Habitat Youth Unit

Announcing our side event plans for the 26th Session of Governing Council

Are you attending the 26th session of the Governing Council taking place from May 8th-12th? The UN-Habitat Youth Unit is excited to announce our side events taking place throughout the session. The youth side events will highlight a different innovative youth-led programme each day, which include enhancing youth participation in peace, local governance and development featuring the One Stop Youth Centre model.

Our planned activities include:

…and much more. Please view the Side Event page for a full list of other events.

Join the conversation by using #Cities4All.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this communique with other colleagues attending the 26th Session of the Governing Council.

 

Let’s talk about sexual education: East African Conference on Urban Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Courtesy of Rebecca Bell

Conference: Urban Innovation in SRHR; Nairobi, UN-Complex, February 15 &16, 2017

What are current urban innovations in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)? Is SRHR education a critical part in addressing urban challenges faced by young people?

A recent conference held at the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi Kenya, brought together cross-disciplinary experts ranging from applied ethics to nursing, counselling to medicine, and private sector to local government in order to address these crucial questions on SRHR. Using the Kenyan context as backdrop, with additional consideratiConference Plenary Speakersons from India, Somalia, Uganda and Sweden, the goal of the conference was to identify the types of projects being implemented in our own backyards and how we can improve the SRHR situation in our communities.

The conference started off with an introduction from representatives at UN-Habitat, UNFPA Somalia, the Head of Development Cooperation for Somalia, Swedish Embassy, and a professor of applied ethics from Linkoping University. This panel set the stage for participants to look at SRHR from a variety of perspectives, from the grassroots level to national policy, and beyond to the ethical foundations of SRHR programming.

Representatives from Linkoping University, the University of Boras, and University West demonstrated the prototype of their online open-access course, Haki Sasa, roughly translated to “Justice Now” in Swahili. The presenters fielded questions from the audience with the stated intention of eventually improving health outcomes in communities where youth complete this curriculum.  The presenters verified that the course would be context specific so as to account for different ideas about sexuality and morality within individual communities.

On Wednesday afternoon, two additional panels were conducted. The first included representatives from UNFPA’s Private Sector Health Partnership including Safaricom, Huawei, MSD, Philips and the UNFPA team who brought them together. These private sector executives discussed the role they play in SRHR and the partnerships that can help each sector work to their strengths.

The second panel included representatives of UN-Habitat’s youth and gender units, and their partners from Narotum Sekhasaria Foundation (NSF), India. Statistics on SRHR were expressed for global, Kenyan and Indian contexts, thereby setting the stage for the next day’s breakout sessions. The role of youth and the successes of specific projects were also considered.

Wednesday finished off with an engrossing drama and dance performance by Wale Wale Kenya. The performers communicated the daily difficulties of dealing with family, friends and employers, changes at puberty, and the challenges faced in menstrual health and hygiene maintenance.Wale Wale 2

Thursday morning, 16th February, participants and facilitators were reunited again for short opening remarks before splitting off into three groups for breakout sessions. In the first section, three topics were presented: a workshop on the Haki Sasa course, introduced during the plenary session on Wednesday; SRHR innovations for young people; and SRHR in slums and informal settlements.

The following section held the latter two workshops again, but the first workshop changed to a module on menstrual hygiene management and reusable sanitary pads. These small breakout sessions gave the participants an opportunity to network, discuss their thoughts and get creative together. Small groups discussed solutions to SRHR challenges they face in their own communities; improved upon existing online programmes for SRHR; and gave advice on how to refine reusable sanitary pad templates.

In the final plenary session, rapporteurs from each of the breakout sessions summarized the discussions from each section in order to synthesize the take-away lessons. In this way, all participants were able to share in the experiences of each breakout session despite having only participated in two of the available six sessions.

The two-day conference came to an end with representatives of the facilitating partners giving their final remarks, discussing the successes of collaborative thinking and networking opportunities, and challenging the participants to find ways to continue the conversations and partnerships formed throughout the conference. Overall, the conference was a great success, sparking new ideas and collaborations that will undoubtedly improve SRHR in Kenya and beyond.

Conference Group Photo

Football Pitch Make-over through Design Thinking

A lot was happening in Mlango Kubwa’s football pitch last week. Mlango Kubwa is a ward in the Mathare informal settlement in Kenya. Mathare has approximately 500,000 residence; Mango Kubwa itself has approximately 50,000 residents of which 70% of the population is 24 and under.

After its inauguration by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, it became the centerpiece of Design Thinking workshop organized to give it a sustainable make-over.

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The football pitch is the cornerstone of the community, strategically placed and accessible for all Mlango Kubwa’s residents. Used primary for football, sport and play, at times it’s also a place for talent shows, celebrations and other community events. But time, weather conditions and lack of resources have left a toll on its appearance and condition. What was once an astonishing sport facility in the midst of a slum is now rapidly deteriorating public space.

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To try to help out and bring new ideas and perspectives on the issue, UN-HABITAT teamed up with GIZ Sport for Development Africa programme and Prof. Dr. Falk Uebernickel from University of St. Gallen, an expert in Design Thinking methodology, to run a 2-day workshop with the community. Ran as a pilot in a difficult context of poor urban community, the hope and expectation was to come up with new strategies to revitalize and sustainably maintain the field.

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Despite slow start, the community members attending the workshop came up with some amazing ideas of how to improve the current state of the pitch.  Through rather complex and at times quite challenging steps of the Design Thinking methodology, the community looked at the most pressing issues, including safety and security, drainage, waste management and communication. Here are just few examples of simple interventions that were born that day:

  • Adequate fence around the pitch perimeter, with some kind of roofing to protect from rains
  • Paid caretaker(s)
  • Build-in drainage
  • Regular clean-ups, with competitions between school
  • WhatsApp group to inform the community of events and happenings at/around the pitch

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Funding remains a challenge and will determine the successful implementation of all the ideas that the community envisioned for the football pitch but everyone remains hopeful that over time, they will achieve everything what they set themselves for. UN-HABITAT will continue to support the Mlango Kubwa community and hope that together we can make it happen.

33318505186_fdf30fea5c_oOn 8th March 2017, at the occasion of International Women’s Day, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres visited Mlango Kubwa community of Mathare. This special occasion occurred at the Slum Soccer football pitch, a community public space created by young women and men with the support of UN-HABITAT. Located in the heart of the community, the pitch is a perfect spot for all children and young people to play sports as well as host other community events.

Two local women’s teams were brought to greet Mr. Guterres and showcase their talents to invited guests and the residents of Mlango Kubwa. Despite the bright sun and high temperatures, the pick-up game created a great atmosphere to welcome the Secretary General in style. “Up for Slum Dwellers”, sponsored by UN-HABITAT’s slum upgrading campaign,  represented UN-HABITAT at the “Global Goals World Cup” which took place the weekend before the SGs visit. Up for Slum Dwellers took on Katalands, a local team from Mathare. Together they promoted SDG 11 and advocating for more accessible and safer spaces to play sports in informal settlements.

Wendy Achieng, the captain of “Up for Slum Dwellers” team introduced both of the teams to the Secretary General and presented him with a small gift, a custom-made T-shirt promoting SDG 11. In return, Mr. Guterres honored the girls with the first kick-off of the game.

Both the Mlango Kubwa community as well as the UN family were honored and proud to see the Secretary General in the field, so early on in his term.

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Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres inaugurating the Slum Soccer Football Pitch