Background and objectives:
Following his visit to the Kibera slums in early 2007, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Korean National Mr. Ban Ki Moon, lent his personal support to the youth of informal settlements in Nairobi. Mr. Moon, who was awarded US$100,000 by the Pony Chung Scholarship Foundation, committed these funds towards the Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) training project, in which several hundred youth from several of Nairobi's slum areas are receiving construction-related vocational skills and other training. This was timely given the concern by the United Nations and governments, including the Kenyan government that youth unemployment is a growing problem that needs to be addressed, and that placing youth at the centre of the development agenda is the key to sustainable development.
The programme supports the Habitat Agenda, UN-HABITAT Governing Council resolutions on urban youth empowerment and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that recommend support to youth empowerment programmes and the development and implementation of strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work.
The overall goal of the programme is to improve the livelihoods of at least 250 youth, both male and female, living and working in Kibera slums and the Mavoko informal settlements, through the provision of practical training in construction, business development and information communication technology that will lead to income generation activities. The programme aims to equip young people with managerial and organizational skills, certification and apprenticeship experience to compete for jobs in the construction industry.
The programme is directly linked to the Sustainable Neighborhood Programme (SNP), being implemented by UN-HABITAT in cooperation with Government of Kenya and Government of Finland. The fundamental idea behind SNP is to demonstrate sustainable, low-cost new approaches to housing, especially in planning, sanitation, house design and building materials. A series of practical workshops and hands-on training courses in the production and use of low-cost building materials will be undertaken.
The programme is being implemented through multi-stakeholder partnerships that have brought together representatives of local and national government, the private sector, youth organizations, grassroots organizations as well as other development partners. Given the early success of the programme, other development partners have expressed interest in providing financial and technical support into further implementation.
- Train youth from informal settlements in Kenya, starting with youth from Mavoko and Kibera slum areas, in employable skills in construction, business employment and information communication technology.
- Activate and strengthen key strategic civil society and public and private sector partnerships related to housing constructions, micro-enterprise development and information communication technology and
- Promote youth entrepreneurship with the aim of establishing economically viable and competitive small enterprises that are youth-led.
An initial group of 25 youth from Kibera and Mavoko took part in an intensive training programme at the Mavoko training site, learning innovative technologies specifically for use in low-cost housing and slum upgrading projects. Their efforts, under the tutelage of instructor Rainer Norberg, are being channeled into the creation of a training facility, to be named in honour of the Secretary-General Mr. Moon. The facility will serve as a space in which ongoing training in construction and trades for slum youth from across Nairobi will take place for years to come.
Ultimately, over the course of the YEP programme’s pilot phase in Nairobi, nearly 300 young people will be trained in basic construction skills, including pproduction and use of “Habitat-blocks,” a technology developed to produce blocks that are considerably stronger than ordinary and can be made by self-help builders for a quarter of the price of an ordinary block. Other skills training will cover carpentry, masonry, electrical wiring, plumbing and other low-cost block making technologies.
These training courses will be directly linked to the construction of UN-HABITAT’s training facility in Mavoko, to give students hands-on experience in construction. Graduates of the YEP training will be assisted in taking on apprenticeships and attachments in private sector construction companies as well as within ongoing construction projects by UN-HABITAT and KENSUP.
The Construction Brigade, currently with just under 300 members, is a youth-led initiative that arose out of the YEP and is supported by multiple sections of UN-HABITAT. It is intended to act as a guild representing youth from slum areas who have completed the Youth Empowerment Programme’s construction trades trainings. Plans for ongoing training and support for the Brigade include identifying and bringing on board professionals from around the world to offer advice and guidance in the formation of the Brigade, as well as capacity building for the Executive body of the Brigade to strengthen their ability to govern this unique youth-led organization.
As of August 2008, 60 youth are actively engaged in either on-the-job construction training or ICT and Life Skills, with 30 more slated to begin in September 2008 and another 200 to start vocational skills training by October 2008. Of these 200, one hundred will go on to participate in a specialized Business Incubation process as part of the Urban Entrepreneurship Programme (UEP) with Environmental Youth Alliance, designed to assist them in the launch of their construction cooperatives and begin effectively bidding on construction contracts.
Updates will be available in June 2009 on the following anticipated outputs:
- At least 250 young people from settlements surrounding Nairobi, including Kibera and Mavoko, trained in basic construction skills and better placed to benefit from apprenticeships and employment opportunities
- Young people from urban areas given capacity building assistance with income generation skills and business development acumen
- The Construction Brigade Welfare Society established and strengthened to support youth entrepreneurship and advance youth capabilities to compete for tenders in the construction field
- Opening of the Training Facility at the Mavoko site, dedicated to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon in honour of his catalytic donation to the Programme
- Designation of Trainers-of-Trainers from the first intake of trainees at the Mavoko site