UN Under-Secretary-General visits EU-funded Slums project in Kampala

February 01, 2019


United Nations Under-Secretary-General (Prevention) Ana Maria Menendez on 28 January hailed IOM Uganda’s “grassroots approach” to build stable slum communities in the capital Kampala.

Menendez spoke in the Kampala slum area of Bwaise, as she visited the Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slum Populations (SSCoS) project, which is funded by the European Union. This was part of her visit to Uganda and Ethiopia to better understand how the UN can support prevention of crises.

The SSCoS project is implemented by IOM Uganda and partners led by the Action for Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD). It aims at preventing radicalization and violent extremism through a mix of socioeconomic support to vulnerable youths, mass messaging campaigns, as well as engaging government departments to improve service provision, including the Police on human rights-sensitive approaches. 

Under-Secretary-General Menendez was accompanied by the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Rosa Malango. They inspected works of cookery, tailoring, electronics and beauty therapy produced by project-supported youths. They also heard testimonies from some of the project beneficiaries that included a police officer; youths who got vocational skills and business start-up kits; as well as a vocational institute trainer.

Menendez told the dozens of slum youths present that they were essential to building better communities with peace, equality, justice and which are necessary for the effective pursuit of Agenda 2030. She encouraged them to recognize that they are assets for themselves, their families, communities and society.

“You will often hear that the youth is the future and indeed you are the future; but I also think you are the present,” she said. “And the fact that we are here talking to you, looking at your projects and hopefully listening to your voices and looking at how you are preparing for better communities… this is something that speaks to that present.”

Representing the IOM Uganda Chief of Mission, SSCoS project manager Sahra Farah explained the core logic of the intervention, saying:  “As Countries like Uganda urbanize at a fast rate, many of the young people migrating to cities like Kampala end up in informal settlements such as Bwaise where we are. Without proper education, without employable skills, and without systematic livelihoods support, youth in slums become marginalized, excluded, and extremely vulnerable to agents of radicalization and violent extremism that can lead to terrorism.”

Farah added: “By ensuring that young people have skills and support to start businesses or find work; by supporting savings and cooperatives in slums; by supporting the Police to protect human rights and promote cooperation and reduce confrontation with slum communities,  we can help prevent radicalization.”

The European Union, was represented by Aloys Lorkeers, Head of the Refugee Section in Kampala, who underscored of the importance of stable, peaceful communities; skills linked with the needs of the market, as well as support to relevant government agencies to improve services.

“We are very satisfied with the way the programme is going so far, and we hope it will be able to deliver the expected results at the end,” Lorkeers said.

The young people then got a rousing motivational talk from UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango. She urged them to dream, plan and take action, but also to take pride in the skills acquired. The latter is particularly important in a country with a craving for white collar education despite acute shortage of white collar jobs.

“Every job is a source of dignity; so please be dignified in who you are,” Malango said. “You are a carpenter, congratulations; you are a beauty therapist, thank you very much. You are a designer, I am looking forward to where you are going from here.”

For more information, please contact Richard M Kavuma at ugandapiu@iom.int; Tel +256 312 263210