In her last official mission to South Africa as UN-HABITAT's Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka had a meeting with a constituency close to her heart- the young people. The historic visit also saw Mrs. Tibaijuka meet the former South Africa's President Nelson Mandela at his home.
And what a better place to do so than the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa? In a packed programme that included visiting with young people to a South African township, workshop and bonding sessions, the penultimate mission accorded Mrs. Tibaijuka yet another opportunity to put up a strong case for the young people of the world who more often than not are left on the periphery of development plans by their respective governments.
At a meeting with a group of more than 50 young people drawn from East and Southern Africa in Pretoria, Mrs. Tibaijuka challenged them to take responsibility of security in their neighbourhoods. It was only when the young people secured their neighbourhoods that the vulnerable, the elderly, women and children would feel safe, she said.
Although she was leaving UN-HABITAT, the Executive Director assured the young people that she would still be following closely matters affecting them.
"I am only retiring, not expiring and I will still be nearby," she assured the youth who showed their appreciation through South African traditional songs.
Organised on the sidelines of the World Cup was the initiative "Youth for a Safer Africa", a programme that saw the East African group team up with their South African counterparts in workshops, fun and team building sessions. The initiative which is jointly sponsored by UN-HABITAT, SCORE and Right To Play aims at making Africa's young people more productive and keep them away from delinquency.
During her two term tenure at the helm of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Tibaijuka has been in the forefront of pushing the young people's agenda, a fact that was appreciated by UN-HABITAT's Adviser on Youth Anantha Krishnan. "When she joined the organisation we did not have any focused youth prgrammes but this has changed and now young people form a core part of our activities," he said.
Perhaps the highlight of this drive for the youth agenda was the publication early this year of the State of Urban Youth Report.