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Nairobi , 22 Oct 13

On a tour of Kenya this week hosted by UN-Habitat, UN Secretary-General’s envoy on youth Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi had a busy schedule that saw him meet with several youth-led groups, host a roundtable on youth and conflict and pay a visit to Westgate Mall, the scene of last month’s devastating terrorism attack.

 On Tuesday the envoy met with youth organizations from Mathare, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, where he visited Mathare Environmental Youth Resource Centre. Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi congratulated the young community mappers of Spatial Collective on their initiative to “place Mathare on the map”, underlining “how important it is to be seen on a map because it gives legitimacy and a sense of identity and belonging to the many people living in Mathare”. In the the meeting with Mathare Environmental the Youth Envoy’ had the opportunity to learn about the groups waste-management and recycling activities. He as well visited a successful urban farm established after capacity development in urban farming had been given to young people in Mathare. Finally he visited with Sisi Ni Amani an organization supported by the UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund, which utilizes a combination of traditional and innovative approaches to communication and dialogue to increase civic engagement & prevent violence in Kenyan communities..

Mr Alhendawi concluded by saying that he “would not miss to cite the excellent work and the innovative ideas of young people in Mathare in my next meeting with Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon”, and commended UN-Habitat for its involvement in and support to youth-led development.

The roundtable “Youth in Conflict and Post-Conflict” at the UN HQ in Gigiri, was attended by representatives of member states, UN agencies, academia and youth-led organizations. Mrs. Aisa Kacyira, the Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, underlined the need to “engage youth in governance so that they feel a sense of ownership and dignity (…) and how to create partnerships which can help us move further in the are of youth development”.

The Youth Envoy stated that for young people, “there are no prospects for a future in conflict situations, and it is very important to address the root causes to make sure that youth become peace-builders”. Shukra Hussein Gure, MP of the Garissa County, gave a presentation on how in the Garissa County, they are working to include more young men and women in governance and find them decent employment to prevent young people from getting involved in conflicts. Hassan Abdikadir from the Muslim Youth Alliance stressed the need to give youth a an active role in decision making, and to engage and train them in areas such as conflict prevention and peacebuilding. 

Mr. Alhendawi as well visited the ruins of Westgate Mall and laid a wreath of flowers in tribute to those who lost their lives there. The attack by Al Qaeda linked militants left 67 dead and hundreds injured.  

On his last two days UN-Habitat organized with the Aftican Union Commission, Mr. Alhendawi’s visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopie to meet with key stakeholders in regards to youth engagement, and the organizing of the upcoming African ECOSOC regional conference.  

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