Youth-led organizations globally have worked with local and national governments, leading efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. In Kenya, hand washing facilities set up in informal settlements and run by the youth were popular among local residents.
“Many young people have come to realize that COVID-19 is not only a health issue, but it effects every area of our livelihood, every aspect of our community and our social life” said Gwendolyn Myers, Liberian National Youth Task Force, “Since the outbreak in Liberia of March 2020 we have noticed an imbalanced effect on certain groups of people, women and children and people with disabilities. Young people continue to play critical roles in information dissemination, logistics and the distribution of relief materials to these communities.”
One key aspect of the meeting focused on the need to empower communities to take action, as reflected in UN-Habitat’s COVID-19 Response Plan.
“One of the three focuses of our Response Plan is the support of local government and community driven solutions, especially in informal settlements,” said UN-Habitat’s Executive Director.
“Many youth of today have stepped up to the plate. Young people are redefining the world as we know it. Youth are demanding the change you want to see from leaders,” stated Under-Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, Special Adviser on the United Nations 75th Anniversary. “We are seeing it across the globe – youth are making their voices heard. You are creating movements that ripple across cultures and borders. You are taking the future into your own hands and ensuring that progress happens.”
One of the main sponsors of the youth-led action against the virus has been the Government of Canada, which is funding COVID-19 prevention and hand washing stations in Nairobi and Mandera in Kenya, and Kismayo in Somalia.
“Canada believes in the strength of young people and their power to create positive change. This is one of the reasons we are so proud to support initiatives that empower young men and women to play a meaningful role in community-led pandemic responses,” stated Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Lisa Stadelbauer.
“We’re proud and honoured to work with UN-Habitat to partner with youth-led organizations such as the Mandera Anti Drug Movement, Mathare Environmental One Stop and YPEER-Somalia through our Canada Fund for Local Initiative programme.”