Above: the launch of the Tripoli Youth Office in Lebanon
The past two months have been a busy period for the Young Cities team, delivering activities in collaboration with SCN members in Kenya, Lebanon and Senegal.
Young Cities: Connecting Youth and Local Authorities
Young Cities is SCN’s flagship youth engagement, capacity-building, advocacy and policy programme that supports the development of local youth-led and co-created approaches to issues such as hate, polarisation and extremism, in coordination with local government stakeholders and decision makers.
Engaging young people as key stakeholders in policy and programme design recognises the value of youth and their capacity to bring ideas to the table, to build trust and shared understanding between youth and their municipality, and help build community resilience.
Activities include specialist capacity-building and training programmes for youth, creating innovative local initiatives that are driven by youth to support community resilience, in partnership with local government stakeholders. During the process, youth are working closely with municipal stakeholders and practitioners from their municipalities to further co-created solutions and build shared understanding of local youth issues. At the same time, municipal stakeholders are trained in international best practice of youth engagement strategies and approaches, receive locally-tailored policy recommendations, and support implementation of a local city grant.
Setting the ground: Lebanon and Kenya
Over the past two years, Young Cities has worked with over 100 youth and 50 local-level policymakers and practitioners across the Middle East and Africa. In Lebanon, youth created campaigns denouncing celebratory gun fire and the normalisation of gun use, addressed social cohesion issues on the border with Syria, and challenged stereotypes of Palestinian refugees through the development of a video series on art, culture and history in Ain el Hilweh camp. April saw the delivery of a second youth capacity building workshop, kick-starting the launch of a new round of initiatives, with a newly added ‘train the trainer’ element.
In Mombasa, Kenya, five youth groups are currently working on launching their initiatives with the aim to build trust and shared understanding between youth and police, tackle generational misunderstandings between children and their parents, increase knowledge on young people’s rights and responsibilities, and address youth involvement in juvenile gangs and violent extremist groups. Over the past few weeks, groups have conducted youth-led research to inform the design of their online and offline projects, developed storyboards for a video series and received follow-up training on monitoring and evaluation techniques.
Youth from Tripoli, Lebanon, filming their campaign against stray bullets.
Young Cities’ first innovation lab was held in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2018.
Upcoming projects: Kwale and Dakar
In April, the team travelled to Kwale, on the coast of Kenya, in preparation for a Young Cities workshop in partnership with Kenyan NGO Human Rights Agenda (HURIA). The team met with high-level County government representatives, local CSOs, including youth and youth-led organisations, to support the framing of the upcoming project. The team is looking forward to the workshop later this year, which will support the development of up to six youth-led and co-created initiatives, as well as welcoming the city of Kwale to SCN.
Shortly after Kwale, another scoping trip was organised, this time to Dakar, Senegal. After the regional workshop organised in Dakar in 2017 and the city exchange with Montreal, the city will host the Young Cities project starting in July. In Dakar, the team met with international and local organisations, but also local activists and youth-led associations, which all gave their invaluable insight into the local landscape of social cohesion in Dakar and its suburbs. In parallel, a series of focus groups were held to capture the voices of young people not engaged in traditional engagement processes.
Check this space for some creative campaigns coming out of Kwale and Dakar in the next few months!
Great news considering the fact that KWALE where I come from is heavily infested by radicalisation and extremism