Nairobi, 5 December 2014: The Director of Youth Affairs from the Kenyan Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Mr. Stephen Jalenga, opened a three-day workshop on Evidence-Informed Policies on Youth Development in Africa at the UN in Nairobi earlier this week.

Aiming at building momentum for youth development in the region, the workshop brought together civil society, statisticians, youth and ministry officials to discuss effective ways of policy formulation, implementation and monitoring towards youth development.

“We look at cities as having a major potential for generating growth and prosperity, but our main concern is that the growth generated is not equitable, often disproportionately affecting youth development” said Mr. Oumar Sylla of UN-Habitat, emphasizing the relevance of the workshop’s goal to strengthen knowledge among policy makers and engagement with civil society when shaping the national youth agenda in Africa, also at the city level.

Despite being the most youthful continent in the world, little data exists on youth in Africa, prompting Ms. Kula Fofana of Liberia to ask “How do we measure impact in the youth development sector given the demographic youth bulge seen all over Africa?”, a question to which Mr. Eduardo Moreno from UN-Habitat responded by presenting the City Prosperity Index where indicators specifically targeting youth have been included.

Given the large youth population in urban areas globally, the City Prosperity Index serves as an important tool for governments to monitor the well being and prosperity of a city. “The Index shows us that urban neighborhoods need to be integrated and diverse to create cities with opportunities for youth” said Mr. Moreno, further explaining how the data collected contributes to informed policy making, also with regards to youth needs.

Youth as a resource for peace and stability in Somalia

Amidst reconstruction and reconciliation processes, the Federal Government of Somalia has embarked on developing a policy that seeks to invest in youth as a resource towards peace and stability for the country. Dr. Abdulfatah Khalif Farah from the Somali Ministry of Youth and Sports presented Somalia’s experience with formulating and implementing a national youth policy, and how youth are involved at every level of the process.

“Although Al Shabab means youth, I can say with certainty that the majority of youth in Somalia are not into radical Islam. With 70 per cent of the population being under 30 years of age, Somali society goes where the youth goes. Youth are agents of change in Somalia, and we hope to capture this potential of productivity and constructive partnership in the Somali national youth policy.”

The workshop was organized by the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in partnership with UN-Habitat, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and The Commonwealth and serves as the first in a series of regional meetings on evidence informed policies for youth development.

To learn more about UN-Habitat’s youth programme, click here