[Dateline: Nairobi | Author: UN-HABITAT]
Urban based youth-led organizations in developing countries who are working to improve the living conditions of their communities can now apply for financial assistance from UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
The Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development will provide grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to organizations led by young people, aged 15-32 years.
"In this time of worldwide economic crisis, it is not only banks and automakers who deserve financial support, we also need to encourage youth who are often best placed to solve problems in their communities," said Ms. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. "The Opportunities Fund is designed to provide financial support of up to one million dollars per year, to youth-led initiatives aimed at sustainable urbanization. We must harness the energies of the young if we are to overcome the problems of urban poverty."
Of the one billion slum dwellers in the world today, it is estimated that more than 70 percent are under the age of 30. Yet these young people have few resources available to improve their own living environment. This is a major oversight as there are many youth-led initiatives in slums and squatter settlements that are in urgent need of financial support.
The Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development has been established with support from the Norwegian Government specifically to provide funds to youth-led community initiatives. The initial grant is for two million dollars over two years with a possibility of renewal.
The fund is committed to support innovative youth-led projects in areas such as employment, education, environment, health and safety. Applications from organizations partnering with government agencies and the private sector are encouraged. Projects promoting gender equality are particularly welcome.
Applications details are now available at www.unhabitat.org/opfund.
22nd session of UN-HABITAT Governing Council set to take place 30 March - 3 April
Ms. Anna Tibaijuka, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT has invited journalists to attend the 22nd session of its Governing Council, which will be held from 30 March to 3 April 2009, at UN-HABITAT headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya.
The Governing Council meets every two years to examine UN-HABITAT's work programme and relationships with its partners. The Council is composed of 58 member states. It is a high-level forum of governments at the ministerial level during which policy guidelines and the Organization's budget are established for the next two-year period.
Housing finance will be the main theme of the 22nd session. The General Assembly earlier suggested that affordable finance is particularly important because the current financial crisis threatens to make access to housing credit even more difficult. At the same time, the economic downturn caused by the financial crisis is very likely to result in a drop in government revenues and to public expenditures for improving urban infrastructure and services.
This trend is further exacerbated by the increasing impact and effects of climate change on cities. Currently, there are an estimated 1 billion people living in urban slums and informal settlements. These are the people that are most at risk when it comes to floods, drought and other extreme weather patterns.
Improving the housing and infrastructure conditions of slum dwellers is by far the most effective means of improving the resilience of the majority of urban populations living in rapidly urbanizing cities to the potential devastating effects of climate change. The Governing Council will discuss policy options and practical approaches to these problems.