A group of 30 young people drawn from Kenya’s largest slum of Kibera last week held talks at UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi last week to explore ways of helping their colleagues benefit from slum upgrading and construction programmes with funds made available by UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon through the Pony Chung Scholarship Foundation.
Mrs. Anna Tibiuajuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, in a message to the meeting, said the funds, amounting to USD 100,000, had been made available to the agency following a visit to Kibera by the Secretary-General on his first official African tour in January 2007.
"UN-HABITAT is deeply grateful to the Secretary General and the Pony Chung Foundation," Mr. S. Ananthakrishnan, Chief of UN-HABITAT's Partners and Youth Programme, told the meeting on her behalf. "Kenya is in a unique position because it has two UN agencies headquartered in Nairobi. Both UN-HABITAT, and our sister organization, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have a special responsibility to respond to the needs of our host country, especially to those that impact on the lives of young people living in poverty."
Those attending the meeting emphasized the need to train them in building and construction methods, computer skills, accounting, entrepreneurship and resource mobilization. The training programme will be designed to initially benefit about 100 young people from Kibera.
During an animated dialogue session, several young people said they most needed training in the areas of engineering, plumbing, carpentry, masonry and welding. The need for improving their skills in ICT, financial management, project development, resource mobilization and entrepreneurship was also strongly expressed.
Welcoming the UN's efforts to assist them, they also cited the need for close follow-up and coaching once their training is completed, as well as help with apprenticeship, mentoring and job opportunities with private sector companies working in the crowded slum.
Mr. Ananthakrishnan, underscored the Agency’s normative role in lobbying governments to adopt policies and frameworks aimed at alleviating urban poverty and at improving the living conditions of urban settlers, with an emphasis on young people.
At the time of his visit to the slum in January 2007, home to an estimated 700,000 people living in a piece of land roughly the size of a golf course. "I feel very much humbled by what I am seeing now," Mr. Ki-moon said at the time of his visit in Juanry 2007. "We must work together and generate the political will to have a smooth implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and I will work very closely, and harder than before.”