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Closing Address by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka Executive Director of UN-HABITAT on the occasion of the National Youth Forum on Safe Neighbourhoods as part of the National Youth Violence Prevention Week.
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The signing of the peace agreement yesterday has come in at a very strategic moment during this National Youth Violence Prevention Week.

The purpose of the National Youth Violence Prevention Week has been to help raise awareness and build capacity on youth violence prevention and to assist young people to take responsibility for community safety and security. We have worked in close collaboration with their local authorities and other partners such as the private sector.

It is now time that we embark on the National Campaign to mobilize communities countrywide - especially young people to volunteer their services in reconstructing the business premises and homes that were destroyed during the post-election violence. This reconstruction effort can also provide a useful base for national reconciliation with the participation of communities both affected and involved in the destruction. UN-HABITAT’s Shelter Recovery Needs Assessment Report could provide a useful source of reference for this campaign.

Violence and unrest cannot be addressed without looking at the root causes. The two main causes of youth unrest are poverty and unemployment. Employment creation and entrepreneurship need attention by government as well as the private sector.

Entrepreneurship especially by youth brings us hope. Entrepreneurship is a way to follow a dream. Your efforts are the processes of discovering, evaluating, and exploiting opportunities. This is the natural entrepreneurial spirit of youth. You like the idea of running your own businesses. You like the feeling of hope, independence, and of being in control. We must all nurture this curiosity and interest among young people by developing and supporting programs that give youth early exposure to the risks, rewards, and critical thinking skills needed to succeed.

UN-HABITAT promotes sustainable urbanization and shelter for all, with the support of a personal grant of USD 100,000 from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon following his visit to Kibera early last year. This grant has now been leveraged with funds from the Government of Norway to a tune of USD 1 million, and other donors are being sought. The funds will be utilized for skills training and the process of training slum youth in building and construction related skills and in entrepreneurship is to start soon at our Estate in Athi River and in other vocational training centres.

After the Week’s activities, it is also now the challenge of you, the delegates to stimulate public awareness of the negative impact of youth violence and the ways in which it can be tackled by providing alternative avenues for active non-violence. It is my hope that the plans of action for youth violence prevention that you have developed during the week will be further refined at the grassroots. Collaboration with the local government, the provincial administration, the health services and other sectors such as education, social services and the police is essential.

At the next annual meeting in 2009, you will be looking at advances made on the recommendations that you have agreed today, and discuss further ways to implement this Forum’s recommendations. In this connection, UN-HABITAT will support the initiative by youth by establishing a website (www.safercitieskenya.co.ke) and an online forum that will keep you connected with tools and practices that you could use in implementing your local plans of action.

To this end, the role of the private sector is indeed crucial to empower young people to implement their action plans. In this respect, I would like to single out three major activities.

One is the Peace Garden as depicted in the model exhibited here today. I am made to understand that the vision of the this initiative is to provide a sanctuary in affected areas around the country and to provide a platform for messages of reconciliation and healing.

The second activity is the Kilimanjaro Initiative, an annual event highlighting the importance of unity and positive community action. I wish to specially mention Tim Challen, the founder of this initiative who overcame adversity after being shot in the leg in  Nairobi while on a mission from Geneva on behalf of UNFCU. After recovery from complicated surgery in Switzerland, Tim decided to move on. He decided he could not spend all his life being bitter about the senseless attack he and his female companion were subjected to. He had realized that most of his attackers were very you, and came to a conclusion that the best way is to provide meaningful occupation for the youth, if one is to keep them from anti-social behaviour and violence and crime. Instead of being caught up into bitterness and revenge, he surprised us all by working on an activity that can discourage the youth who had attacked him from senseless violence to something useful. It is my privilege today to congratulate Tim and his expedition that has returned from the Mountain, through Kilimanjaro Initiative that is now growing from strength to strength. I understand this year’e expedition was going to be much larger had some participants not cancelled because of the post election violence. With that problem behind us, I believe next year we shall see a huge expedition. More important, Tim is now involved in a worldwide campaign to get the credit union movement, corporate and individual well wishers to support micro-credit schemes for young people as well as upgrading of sports fields in support of safer neighborhoods in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. I have been invited to address the next World Credit Union Conference to argue your case through our cooperation with Tim Challen. I promise to do  my best.

Third, I have pointed out that UN-HABITAT will be supporting those youth who are able and willing to establish neighborhood youth-groups for non-violence, or youth peace groups and study circles. This initiative will enjoy my personal patronage because I am convinced that we need to have a non-violent movement in Kenya and Africa, if we are to discourage young people from being forced into anti-social behaviour, while permanent solutions to idleness are being found.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Youth and Local Government for their commitment to this process. UN-HABITAT will continue to do everything it can to provide leadership and support for these efforts. As part of the UN system, we exist to promote the empowerment of vulnerable groups in local governance. Violence prevention contributes directly to this cause.

If each of you represented here identifies just one activity to associate with as part of the National Campaign on Youth Violence Prevention in your own local neighbourhoods, we will have taken another step towards making Kenya a safer place.

In light of the above, I wish to invite you all to fill your glasses and toast to the signing of the peace agreement and to join me in launching of the National Campaign on Youth Violence Prevention.
Once again, let me reiterate my congratulations to the leaders and people of this country for the historic political agreement signed yesterday. It has paved way for us to continue our work with the youth taking the lead.

Thank you for your attention.

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