Over 60 representatives from cities across East Africa met in Kampala, Uganda to explore how to advance youth leadership in a region where more than half the population is under 24.
Sponsored by UN HABITAT, the Government of Uganda and the City of Kampala the meeting last week was held under the framework of the Global Partnership Initiative (GPI) on Urban Youth Development in Africa. It came as regional leaders are seeking strategies to advance common development goals. Participating countries include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique with support from the Canadian NGOs and the Government of Norway.
The meeting was told that the world’s young people (12-24), now numbering more than 1.3 billion, must be seen as a vanguard for development as well as key agents of innovation and positive social change. The challenge is clear: while at the same time recognizing young women and men as agents of change of today, they must be cultivated as the leaders of tomorrow.
Participants, who discussed introducing more One Stop Youth Centres at cities in East Africa, included national and local government representatives, civil society, and youth organizations. Strong messages of support came from youth icons Gidi Gidi, the UN HABITAT Messenger of Truth, and Hip Hop organizer Buddha Blaze.
The GPI is a UN-HABITAT initiative in partnership with cities in Africa, national governments and youth agencies. The overarching goal of the initiative is to mobilize and harness the abundant resources of young people so as to improve the quality of life in cities and towns.
UN-HABITAT recognizes that poverty, has long been associated with rural areas, and has increasingly become urbanized and feminized. Looking at the challenges that young people face today, UN-HABITAT can attest to the fact that poverty has gradually become juvenilized; therefore more attention needs to be given to the urban poor, with specific emphasis to the situation of youth and women.
In Uganda UN HABITAT is working with the Ministry of Youth and Child Affairs and Kampala City Council.