9 June 2023, Nairobi. – In May 2023, the UN-Habitat India Team embarked on a transformative field mission in the state of Odisha, India. Their goal was to lay the groundwork for the Young Gamechangers Initiative, a three-year project funded by Fondation Botnar, aimed at improving the health and well-being of young people living in rapidly growing cities worldwide. This exciting initiative, led by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Block by Block Foundation, holds great promise for empowering youth and driving positive change. Let’s explore the highlights of the mission and the potential it holds for creating a brighter future.
Partnerships and Engagement
During the mission, the UN-Habitat team engaged in a series of meetings with various stakeholders, including elected officials, social development agencies, and self-help groups. These interactions provided a platform for fruitful discussions and knowledge sharing. The team collaborated with organizations like the Lighthouse Communities Foundation, Janagrahaa, and the UNDP Office in Bhubaneswar, fostering a spirit of collaboration and innovation.
Exploring the Synergies
In Jatni, the mission focused on understanding the local body’s functioning, particularly with regard to slums and informal settlements. Exciting projects such as the DAY-NULM anti-poverty scheme for the homeless, the Subsidized Meal Programme, and community partner programs run by women’s self-help groups and young people were underway. Discussions also centered around the decentralization of solid waste management, highlighting the crucial role of local bodies and social development agencies in upgrading slums.
Addressing Youth Concerns
Stakeholder engagement with social development agencies revealed a range of concerns affecting the young population in Jatni. These included the need for better regulation of food vending carts, combating addiction and substance abuse, and resolving drainage and sanitation issues. Recognizing the importance of addressing these challenges, the Young Gamechangers Initiative aims to involve youth sub-committees under the guidance of local social development agencies, providing them with a platform to drive change within their communities.
Scaling Up Opportunities in Bhubaneswar
Discussions with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Council explored the possibility of expanding UN-Habitat projects in the city. Sectors such as sanitation, solid waste management, environment, ecology, and transportation were identified as potential areas for collaboration. Bhubaneswar’s aspiration to become a “Green City” was emphasized, with plans to increase green spaces, launch planting campaigns, and implement environmental measures. This collaboration has the potential to transform Bhubaneswar into a sustainable and vibrant urban center.
Pathways to Change
The successful completion of the field mission in Odisha marked a significant milestone for the Young Gamechangers Initiative. It established prospective partnerships and outlined a roadmap for empowering youth and driving positive change. The initiative’s focus on creating learning modules and a youth sub-committee network will provide young people with the tools and resources they need to shape their communities’ future.
Ways Forward for Young Gamechangers in Odisha
The UN-Habitat India Team’s field mission in Odisha was a resounding success, demonstrating the potential for transformative change through collaboration and youth empowerment. By addressing key issues such as slum upgrading, youth concerns, and sustainable urban development, the Young Gamechangers Initiative is poised to make a significant impact. As young adults, we have a crucial role to play in shaping our cities and creating a better tomorrow. Let us draw inspiration from the UN-Habitat’s mission and join hands to build inclusive, sustainable, and thriving communities for generations to come. Together, we can be the gamechangers our world needs.