????????????Kigali-Rubavu-Goma, 21 August 2015-- . UN-Habitat together with the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General (SESG) for the Great Lakes Region last week held a planning workshop to promote the creation of youth centers as a strategy to address youth unemployment and the integration of youth into the economic and social life of the cities in the region.

The countries of the Great Lakes Region are among those experiencing intense challenges related to rapid urbanization, lack of peace, security and economic progress. But initiatives such as The framework of hope: The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region under the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa provides the framework to optimize the urban advantage.

The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework’s Regional Plan of Action, endorsed by the Heads of State of the region, identified youth as a priority. The proposed joint One UN, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region and UN-Habitat project titled Cross Border Youth for Peace is a pilot that is expected to expand further into the region and promote a shared vision of peace and prosperity for the region through the establishment of Youth livelihood Hubs based on the One Stop Youth Center model.

The planning meeting held from 10-15 August 2015 had two main objectives:

a) Two days days exchange programme through project visits to Kigali and Goma.

b) Three days planning meeting to support the development of the city plans for the cities represented in the meeting.

Before embarking on the task of the planning for the new ‘Goma Youth for Peace Center’ as it was dubbed, the participants who comprised of local authority representatives, the National youth council, the Great Lakes Regional Youth Forum representatives, NGOs and leaders from youth serving organizations from the region, toured on-going youth empowerment initiatives in Kigali and Goma.

While addressing the meeting, Ms. Mutinta Munyati from the Regional Office for Africa in UN-Habitat, stressed the need for the youth of Goma to be engaged in all processes in planning leading to the opening up of the center. “This will ensure that their sense of ownership is recognized and that the programmes run within the center are relevant to their needs. I would also like to appeal for commitment of the Goma local authority in order to ensure the centers’ sustainability and future success.

On 13 August 2015 Mrs Adèle Bazizane Maheshe the Minister of Education, Youth ,Gender and Children on behalf of the provincial government of North Kivu handed over to Mr. Guy Kibira representative allotment letters for two pieces of landed specifically given to the youth of Goma to build a Youth for Peace Centre. This is a very noble gesture which will go a long way in ensuring the provision of youth space for youth engagement as well as skills development in an effort to better their livelihoods.UN-Habitat promotes youth centres in search for peace in Great Lakes Region_3