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Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program


Fondation Botnar is funding the Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program, a five-year initiative managed by the International Society of Urban Health (ISUH). The program will foster a multi-stakeholder, community-led consortia representing diverse groups including partners from government, civil society, and the private sector to address the health and wellbeing of young people in secondary cities.


International Society for Urban Health (ISUH)

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. More young people will be growing up in cities than ever before. Rapid urbanisation is often coupled with a number of threats to young people’s wellbeing, such as unsafe infrastructure, inadequate services, violence and injury. The issue of healthy, livable cities is critical to the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 11: “Make cities inclusive, resilient, safe and sustainable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes health protection as critical for sustainable development, and places children and adolescents in the centre of global health and development discussions. Adolescents, especially those aged 10-15 often fall through the gaps of programming interventions that are mostly targeted for children under 5 or older youth. With the global urban population expected to reach 6.4 billion by 2050, much of this growth will be in secondary cities, and 95 percent of urban expansion will take place in the developing world.

Responding to these critical trends, Fondation Botnar and the International Society for Urban Health launched a global challenge calling for innovative proposals to meaningfully contribute to change in secondary cities. Secondary cities, as stated by the Cities Alliance, are those with populations ranging between 150,000 and five million. Approximately three quarters of the world’s inhabitants living in urban areas with less than 500,000 people, yet many countries often fail to prioritise their goals. Global development hinges on how we invest in their potential.

Program Vision

To have healthy, livable, and sustainable secondary cities where adolescents are empowered to contribute as thriving citizens.

Strategic Goal

By 2025, we aspire to have promoted innovation and systemic transformation in the process of creating healthy cities for children and youth through collective action and actively engaging adolescents.

Program Objectives

  • Increase focus on adolescents as change agents
  • Deepen knowledge of how to promote health in secondary cities
  • Leverage multi-sectoral partnerships to sustain change
  • Harness the potential of digital transformation
  • Develop a learning agenda for advancing urban health
  • Provide evidence and advocacy for policy change to support project goals

After a rigorous selection phase, five projects were chosen in the following secondary cities:

  • Thiès, Senegal.
  • Tamale, Ghana.
  • Medellin, Colombia.
  • Cali, Colombia.

The first projects selected are:


Fort pour le Futur

Fort pour le Futur in Thiès, Senegal, introduces a multi-stakeholder model targeted towards adolescents in and out of school in the city. It focuses on four critical areas: adolescent nutrition, adolescent sexual & reproductive health, empowerment, and use of technology. It aims to build the capacity of local civil society actors to advocate for and participate in the design of interventions and policies, and to hold those with influence accountable.The project is managed by Nutrition International.

Innovative Adolescent Health Interventions

Innovative Adolescent Health Interventions operates in the socio-demographically diverse city of Tamale. It promotes multi-stakeholder engagement to identify gaps and collaborate in the provision of Sexual Reproductive Health Services (SRHS) for adolescents and youth with an aim to influence municipal health planning. The project is led by the Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana,


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Gambetiando uses soccer as a vehicle to improve young people’s health and wellbeing in Medellin, Colombia. The soccer sport training program focuses on socio-emotional skills development, values formation, nutrition training with families and a solid social entrepreneurship program. It will highlight the ability of public-private-community partnerships to draw attention to the needs of adolescents living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The project is managed by Impact Hub in Medellin.


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Comvos is working to improve the wellbeing of adolescents in Cali, Colombia, through the creation, execution and scale up of a participatory methodology that promotes social emotional learning. It aims to scale the initiative to train up city officials and school leaders to replicate the methodology through an e-learning platform and the creation of networks. The project is led by a local organisation, Coschool in Cali.

Vivo Mi Calle

Vivo Mi Calle promotes active mobility in Cali, Colombia. The critical areas of focus are to encourage young people to walk and bike to school, with the aim to design safe intersections, increase road safety, and strengthen ongoing city initiatives focusing on mobility. The objective is to increase knowledge and data collection around safe and sustainable mobility in Cali. The project is led by Fundacion Despacio in Cali.

Follow the journey of these projects on social media #HealthyCityAdolescents, or visit


Thiès, Senegal. Tamale, Ghana. Medellin, Colombia. Cali, Colombia

Duration of project

2019 – 2021


International Society for Urban Health (ISUH)


The Future Now
For Children Worldwide

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74