Somalia and the United Nations on Wednesday launched a major innovation challenge to seek ideas from young Somalis on improving the living conditions of people in internally displaced persons (IDPs) communities.
Both Somali government and UN officials who attended the launch in Mogadishu urged the Somali youth to develop solutions for tackling the many problems facing IDPs in their country.
Achim Steiner, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator advised the youth to develop professional networks to promote their innovations.
“We do a lot of emergency support. But what we love the most is to work with people like you because if we can succeed with you, to help you to the next level, you will take Somalia to its next level,” he said in a statement issued by the UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
The challenge is part of an ongoing “Innovate for Somalia” project led by UNDP, in collaboration with Somali government which has conducted two previous innovation challenges to improve the dairy industry and on coding development focused apps.
The third of its kind, the new innovation project is open to young Somali IDPs, returnees and young people from host communities.
Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said no country wants to be reliant on emergency assistance.
“And the only way I can achieve my dream of not being needed anymore (as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator) is if Achim (Steiner) is fantastically successful in helping all of you to be fantastically successful. As far as I am concerned, you are the solution, and good luck,” Lowcock said.
The officials welcomed innovative ideas developed by young Somalis that can address the various social and economic difficulties facing their country.
World Bank Senior Vice-President Mahmoud Mohieldin called on young Somalis to maximize the opportunities provided by the government, civil society and Somalia’s development partners under the innovation challenge.
“As the World Bank, we do business with governments directly. But we have a very strong private sector arm, and I am pleased to know from my colleague today that we have a fund of around 10 million U.S. dollars dedicated for Somalia to help the start-ups, small and micro enterprises,” noted Mohieldin.
The inaugural “Innovate for Somalia” camp was held in October 2017, where young people were given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in order to raise start-up funding.
The most viable solutions for improving the living conditions and livelihoods of IDPs will be supported through entrepreneurship trainings, incubation and access to finance.