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Nairobi, 30 Sept 09

UN-HABITAT has awarded grants from its new Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development to 67 projects proposed by young people from around the world.

The first beneficiaries of the agency’s new Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development were drawn from a pool of 1,116 applicants from 86 countries. Kenya, India, Pakistan and Cameroon generated the greatest number of successful applicants under the programme started with funding from Norway to the tune of USD 1 million annually.

The 67 winning projects from 33 countries, will be feted in Washington at the global celebration of World Habitat Day on 5 October. Many of their ideas are aimed at alleviating poverty, improving employment prospects, education, the environment, health and safety.

The Opportunities Fund awards eligible organizations grants of USD 5,000 to USD 25,000. Those qualifying have to meet strict UN criteria and are required to report on results and effectiveness.

“This application process had two goals, both of which exceeded our expectations,” says Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. “We wanted, for the first time, to define the breadth and depth of global youth development in some of our most challenged urban environments. We also wanted to enhance the successes of innovative youth groups that have proven benefits for their communities. We are amazed at the quality and quantity of applicants.”

Of some 1 billion slum dwellers in the world today, it is estimated that more than 70 percent are under 30. These young people have few resources available to improve their own living environments.

Among the recipients are a Kenyan environmental group recycling plastic waste, a Nigerian HIV/AIDS counseling project for young mothers and sex workers, a Palestinian group dedicated to computer and media training as a platform showcasing human rights, and a Pakistani literacy, job and lifestyle skills development programme. Another is a Brazilian youth organization which trains young people as environmental leaders.

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