three-day Urban Thinkers Forum organized by the National Youth Council (NYC)
with funding from UNDP, yesterday kicked-off at Paradise Suites Hotel.
The forum brought together 85 participants from the urban settlements of Banjul, Kanifing, Brikama, Farafenni, Basse, Soma, Jangjanbureh, Bansang and Kerewan with the objective to plan and develop strategies for the ‘City We Want’ with the various local government councils.
It demands for the involvement of young people to identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning; use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels and to provide means of livelihood for young people earning a living through unsustainable use of the forest and other natural resources.
The forum will be also used to pitch best ideas and solutions for cities looking at planning and design; finance; land, housing and services; environment; economy and livelihood; education; and technology.
National Youth Council Executive Director Lamin Darboe said urbanization is increasingly becoming a challenge and without proper preparation, planning, response mechanism, innovative programs, processes and tools, “we might at some point find ourselves in a problem in the near future.”
He said urbanization and urban problems are not only limited to Banjul, KMC or Brikama but also growth centers such as Kerewan, Farafenni, Basse, Mansa Konko or Soma among others.
Mr. Darboe highlighted that there are serious challenges in terms of drainage systems, path ways, markets, livelihood and energy, saying these things cannot be left to government and local government only.
He urged citizens to take responsibility in the development of the country as no one will come from outside to develop the country for us. “It is our responsibility as citizens to take action and advocate on critical issues but also hold duty bearers accountable but beyond that, take responsibility to address our challenges.”
Fatou Gibba, director of governance at the Local Government Ministry said the most important step to address urbanization or urban development challenges is capacity building of young people to ensure that there is more resilience to be able to take on board both natural and human disasters in urban areas.
She described the forum as critical in empowering people to seek collective ways to overcome challenges they face within the urban areas.
She urged participants to think wisely on how they can address urban challenges as well as participate fully during the forum.