After Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon, Kenya saw its first Young Cities Youth Innovation lab take place in Mombasa from 19 – 21 November. Young Cities unites efforts from ISD’s Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Strong Cities Network (SCN), and is an integrated training and support programme for young activists and municipal policymakers and practitioners. It fosters creative and co-owned campaigns and policies at the local level, involving youth as key actors in building community resilience to conflict, hate and exclusion.
Over the course of three days, 32 young people from all six sub-counties of Mombasa worked together to create innovative online and offline campaigns promoting tolerance and countering violence, hate and exclusion in their local communities. The lab combined training in campaign creation and implementation, with breakout sessions where groups worked on creating campaigns tailored to the issues of their respective sub-counties. Youth focused on a range of issues, including juvenile gang recruitment and violence, police-youth relations, and the lack of civic education.
“The workshop has opened my mind. I am now thinking of the next steps very positively, especially with the support of the county government.”Youth participant
The groups were able to pitch their campaign ideas and strategies to a feedback panel of Mombasa County representatives, as well as creative and CSO professionals, and will receive in-depth support over 2019 to implement their online and offline initiatives in collaboration with the Mombasa County Government.
On the municipal level, representatives from Mombasa’s County Government (P/CVE Directorate; Departments of Youth, Gender, and Sports; of Health; Devolution and Public Service Administration) were invited to a workshop, also attended by a SCN delegation from Kristiansand, Norway. The session focused on best practice in youth engagement in P/CVE and the presentation of ISD research on issues facing youth in Kenya and Mombasa in relation to community polarisation, violence and conflict.
Following the workshop, County stakeholders joined the young activists, engaging in open exchanges around the campaigns and the issues they sought to tackle, and the support they could provide.
One young participant said the Lab “gave [participants] a chance to raise [their] voices and allow the county officials to hear [their] grievances.” Another added: “the workshop has opened my mind. I am now thinking of the next steps very positively, especially with the support of the county government.”
The 32 young participants are now in the process of finalising their campaign concepts. They will start implementing them in the new year, with the support of SCN and YouthCAN, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.