Address by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka
Under-Secretary-General of United Nations
Director General of UNON, and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT
Tuesday 19 September, 6.30 pm
IMAGE-IN THE MDGs
The Millennium Development Goals
A Promise to the Youth of Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya
PHOTO EXHIBITION AND BOOK LAUNCH
Excellency Ms. Elisabeth Jacobsen, Ambassador of Norway to Kenya and Permanent Representative to UN-HABITAT,
Mr. Kinuthia Murugu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to join you for the African launch of Image-In the MDGs exhibition, in conjunction with the Fourth Africities Summit in Nairobi.
This exhibition is the result of a project carried by young people who live in a slum down the road here called Mathare. What you see here tonight is the work of 10 energetic and creative young people: Linda, Phoebe, Nelson, Swaleh, Celestine, John, Nancy, Saidi, Josephine and Jack. Each of them was given a camera, a little training and told to go off and come back with a photographic glimpse of their lives. They were told about the Millennium Development Goals. Could they ever make a difference to life in Mathare? And here we have the life stories of these young people who live in absolute poverty.
As I told the opening plenary of the Africities summit, it a shame and indeed a crisis that in Africa today 72 percent of city dwellers live in slums. The theme of Africities this week is on localizing the Millennium Development Goals. And this work coming from Mathare – one of Africa’s largest, most overcrowded slums with over half a million people – is a pointer to how it can be done.
I laud and congratulate our young friends. You are an inspiration to us. I also pay warm tribute to generosity of the Norwegian Ministry of International Cooperation and Fujifilm for making this exhibition possible. This project was coordinated by UN-HABITAT and carried out in partnership with the Mathare Youth Sports Association. It is an example of our agency’s long-term commitment to empower young people living in the slums of Africa. It is also a great example of the kind of partnerships we are trying to forge globally for local improvement with the public and private sectors.
At the United Nations, we most strongly believe that all young people should be given the opportunity to have a greater say in their future and the future of their cities.
And so leave you tonight with the words of one of new friends from Mathare:
“In our area there are children who do not go to school. While they are at home, they do some odd jobs which children should not do. Their mothers give them overload and they wash the smaller ones. While they are at home, they do not have time to read story books. And if they are caught reading, their mother would come and tear their book. I want these children to go to school so they can have education for life.”