Mogadishu, 1 November  2016 - Somali youths  have called for a peaceful and vibrant capital city capable of  fostering economic prosperity.

The views were voiced by dozens of youths in Mogadishu who are participating in an urban campaign entitled “The City Youth Need” recently held in the capital Mogadishu.

The event is part of the Youth Employment Somalia (YES) initiative, a flagship programme implemented by UN-Habitat in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

It is also linked to the World Urban Campaign which seeks to build a new approach to cities based on sustainable development principles. Recognising youth as significant stakeholders in their communities, the Urban Campaign in Mogadishu sought to cultivate the ideas and vision young Somalis have for their capital through a series of events designed to encourage youths to talk about the challenges they face on social, political and economic issues and to identify key drivers of change for possible solutions.

Hundreds of youths thronged the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre in Banadir district for the event,  which was addressed by, among others,  the Mayor of Mogadishu, Sheikh Yusuf Hussein Jimale and Joao Scarpelini, Youth Advisor Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

The Mayor of Mogadishu welcomed the views of the youth but challenged them to join efforts to transform the city. “How can you have a peaceful city if you are not taking part in security? How can you want a beautiful city when you are not taking part in beautifying it? You want a city with clean water and cheap electricity. If that is what you want, we have to work together to make it happen,” said Mr. Jimale.

In his remarks, Mr. Scarpelini noted that young Somalis  constitute the majority of the population and their views and aspirations should be heard and used as a basis to build the kind of nation and city they wish to live in.

“We need to make sure that we create space for young people to become partners, not only beneficiaries. We need to create an opportunity for young people to be empowered, to gain economic means, to engage socially and politically and to become change agents for building a Somalia they want,” the UN youth adviser said.

“Today’s event is about social inclusion and building a shared identity for youth in the city and is a culmination of the challenges and solutions presented by them throughout the urban campaign,” noted UN-Habitat programme officer Falastin Omar.

Earlier, the Chairman of Banadir Youth Association, Abdikafi Mohamud Makaran, said youths from various districts of Mogadishu had taken part in the campaign and submitted their views, which were highlighted during the event.

Among the concerns raised by the youths were a lack of clean piped water, poor sanitation, insecurity and inadequate electricity supply. “I want to live in a city that is peaceful, a city where I have access to free education, proper health services, clean water and other basic things that will allow me to lead a meaningful life,” said Fardowsa Hussein Ali, a young woman from Banadir district.

YES has been holding a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholders since the middle of this year in order to map out the kind of city sought by youths in Mogadishu.