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ESA Regional Hub: Mayoral and City Officials’ Learning Visit on Enhancing City-Youth Engagement in Preventing and Responding to Hate, Extremism and Polarisation

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— 4 minutes reading time

On 21 — 22 November 2023 in Mombasa (Kenya), the Strong Cities Network East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Hub convened mayors and technical officers from Koboko Municipality, Masaka City, Nansana Municipality and Nebbi Municipality in Uganda; and the City of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Municipality in Tanzania to learn from the County Government of Mombasa’s efforts to engage youth in its hate and extremism prevention policies, including to empower young people to deliver social cohesion and community resilience projects. In addition to roundtable discussions with County Government officials about the County’s youth engagement initiatives, visiting officials had the opportunity to connect with young people leading initiatives to address youth grievances and/or promote social cohesion, hearing from them about why investment and meaningful engagement from mayors and local governments is so important. The learning visit highlighted several key themes, including:

  1. Investing in Youth as Changemakers: whether by providing funding support to youth-led initiatives or rolling out a youth internship programme with the local government, there are many avenues through which mayors and city administrations can empower young people and mitigate challenges of idleness and unemployment. Above all, these efforts should be proactive and inclusive, ensuring youth of different ethic, socioeconomic or other backgrounds are engaged, and consultative, where young people are seen as core to the development and implementation of effective prevention policies and programmes.
  2. Investing in Youth to Understand Community Needs: by engaging young people proactively and consultatively, local governments not only build trust between them and their young residents but can also empower youth to serve as representatives of their communities, enabling them to inform a city’s policies and programmes to ensure they meet the actual needs of its residents.
  3. National-Local Cooperation (NLC) to Enhance Youth Engagement and Empowerment: whether through national-local partnerships to train community-based actors on prevention, or a nationally-given mandate at the local government for youth engagement, NLC can serve as a powerful tool through which cities can enhance and sustain efforts to engage and otherwise empower young people.

The learning visit highlighted that effectively preventing hate and extremism requires local governments to implement programmes that resonate with the needs and perspectives of young people. By fostering an environment where the energy, creativity and aspirations of young individuals are not only recognised but actively integrated into decision-making, local governments can pave the way for a more inclusive, resilient and forward-thinking response to these complex issues. The learning visit further inspired visiting city officials to identify a series of priorities to enhance their engagement with youth, which they will implement over the coming six months with support from Strong Cities’ ESA Regional Hub:


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