- The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has selected the first 67 youth groups from a pool of 1,116 applicants from 86 developing countries, to benefit from the new Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development - a grant programme worth $1 million per year.
Kenya, India, Pakistan and Cameroon generated the greatest number of successful applicants, according to the agency, with an overall, 33 countries from four continents represented in the first round of funding, which has been sponsored by the government of Norway.
Granted projects aim at providing employment opportunities for youth, increase the participation of young people in decision making and protecting the environment.
The Fund awards successful applicants with grants of up to $5,000 for smaller projects and up to $25,000 for larger projects, after the recipients have satisfied strict UN criteria and are required to report on results and effectiveness.
"This application process had two goals, both of which exceeded our expectations," said 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 were amazed at the quality and quantity of applicants."
Of the one billion slum dwellers in the world today, it is estimated that more than 70 percent are under the age of 30. These young people have few resources available to improve their own living environments.
Among the recipients are a Kenyan environmental group that recycles plastics as an income-generating opportunity for youth and a Nigerian women's group that provides peer-counseling and training on alternative livelihoods for young sex workers. Others are a Palestinian human rights organisation that train young people in video production to showcase human rights violations, a Pakistani youth group dedicated to training young people on lifestyle skills and entrepreneurship, and a Brazilian youth organisation that trains young people as environmental leaders and involves them in a municipal waste recycling programme.
Youth-led development programmes in areas such as employment, education, and gender equality offer unique solutions that effectively resonate with the communities they address, said Tibaijuka.
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