It’s International Youth Day! Today is an opportunity to champion and celebrate the actions and ideas of young people and advocate for their role in leading and creating a healthier, efficient, and more sustainable world.
To mark the occasion, we are delighted to highlight the exciting innovations of young people involved in one of our flagship projects in Tanga, Tanzania: the OurCity initiative demonstrates one of our fundamental approaches to co-create change with and for young people.
At Fondation Botnar, we have a core belief in enabling opportunities and platforms that put the perspectives of young people at the core of policy and programs that affect them through programs like the OurCity initiative. The global initiative supports selected cities around the world to implement coordinated programs leveraging digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) and transform them into places where young people’s wellbeing and opportunity is secured.
In Tanga, Tanzania, the first city selected for the OurCity initiative, Fondation Botnar seized the opportunity to collaborate with a rapidly growing intermediary city to build a more youth-friendly approach to city development. With the different projects created by OurTanga, young people have been a crucial part of exciting programs and innovative digital technologies nurturing wellbeing and opportunity for all.
Tanga through the perspectives of young people!
Rajabu, a primary school student from Tanga, celebrates the STEM Park in his video.
We’ve been learning about the success of the OurCity initiative in Tanga, Tanzania, through stories captured through video by young people Rajabu, Sabrina, Zainabu and Hussen. Today we bring their energy, experience, and vision to you!
One of the key achievements from the project so far has been establishing Tanzania’s first science centre, STEM Park, which inspires young people to use STEM and STEAM to solve challenges in their city and which has had over 6,000 visits so far. In 2021, ProjektInspire, Tanzania Bora (Coders & Makers) and Robotech all worked together on emerging digital training for youth, with job opportunities and growing local innovation. This group of partners worked in schools and at STEM Park to host a mutual boot camp for 100 children.
The STEM Park has enabled young people like Sabrina, a 20-year-old student with a passion for science, to drive local interventions and support other young people through volunteering. Sabrina not only designed a homemade water irrigation system to water plants and wash dirty cars but is now volunteering with local children, teaching them how to do scientific experiments at the science centre.
Spaces like STEM Park have been transformative for young people, as shared by Sabrina, her friends and other participants:
“Education is a real problem in Tanga, and so many young people have zero motivation. The science centre not only helps us learn about science, but also acts as a safe space”.
“Now, when I get a customer, I can check if their location is safe enough for me to go and deliver their products.”
30-year-old online entrepreneur Zainabu participated in a data mapping exercise with the LivingLab initiative in Tanga. The project, funded by OurTanga, provides young people with key information about local areas in the city through a living map, from employment data to economic activities and safe routes so that young people can better navigate their city. In her video, she shares her conversation with another young person who benefited from accessing data which helped him secure safer working conditions.
Hussen Kinoko was born and raised in Tanga and now works as a tour guide for visitors to the city. He is a member of the OurTanga steering committee, acting as a voice for youth in the city. In his video, he speaks directly with the Mayor of Tanga, Abdulhaman Shiloo about the impact of the OurCity initiative and why youth leadership is vital to driving a more sustainable city.
Over the last twelve months, we’ve had many other opportunities to work closely with young people to advance our vision of a world where young people thrive.
The subject of turning the promise of youth participation into a reality was a driving theme at the 11th session of the World Urban Forum in June 2022, where young leaders were given the platform to share their calls to global leaders to have the space, finance and support to realise their solutions. For example, Ugandan youth leader Leah Namugerwa championed the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes: “a city with high youth engagement is vibrant; it is a city full of action”.
At Fondation Botnar, we are excited to see initiatives like OurTanga enable young people to access their full potential, harness opportunities and spearhead innovation in their cities.
This International Youth Day, we call on our peers to create the necessary space at every level, regard young people as equal partners in any initiatives, and include their perspectives in the design and implementation of their projects. By doing so, young people will play the crucial role we need in shaping our collective future, tackling new challenges, and harnessing opportunities.
Raise the voices of the young people driving change in their cities this International Youth Day by sharing the stories of Rajabu, Sabrina, Hussen and Zainabu on social media using #MyCityMyVoice!