Young people drawn from two Nairobi slums are set to be the first beneficiaries of a donation by UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon which is being administered by UN-HABITAT.
At the beginning of last year, while visiting Kenya, United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon was deeply moved at the poverty he witnessed in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. He, therefore, pledged a donation of USD 100,000 to help train young people living in Nairobi’s slums.
The result is that 70 young people representing 13 different villages of Kibera as well as their colleagues from Mavoko (also an informal settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi) gathered at UN-HABITAT to celebrate the launching of the Youth Empowerment Programme.
Addressing the youth, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka encouraged them to move beyond the tensions left by the unfortunate conflicts which took place in Kenya earlier this year. A disputed election process saw skirmishes erupt in Kenya early this year with some 1,200 people losing their lives while over 100,000 were displaced.
Instead, Mrs. Tibaijuka called on young people to take responsibility to empower themselves, organize, and effect positive change in their communities.
The representative from the Kenyan government, Mr. Stephen Jalenga from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, thanked UN HABITAT for its leadership in providing this training, and as well for empowering youth to organize themselves.
“There are over 700,000 people in Kibera, and 60% of them are youth.” stated Linus Sijenti, a youth leader form Kibera. “This project is the first step in giving young people skills to lift them out of poverty.”
Youth chosen for the course will be trained in three key innovative techniques that includes making “Habitat blocks”; glass “Bottle window” tiles; and “Ferro cement” doors.
“Habitat blocks”, are low-cost bricks that are only 20% of the cost of an ordinary brick. Glass “Bottle Window” tiles are near unbreakable glass windows that can be made out of recycled materials while the “Ferro cement” doors are almost fire and bullet proof. Training in these three innovative techniques will allow the participants to attain skills that they can market and use to start small enterprises within their communities.