Swiss foundation brings youth empowerment programme to Ecuador, Colombia


Alliance magazine


Fondation Botnar, a Swiss foundation that focuses on health and well-being of young people, is expanding its programmes in Latin America. The Foundation will bring OurCity, a global initiative that supports cities in transforming into youth-centred places, to Manta, Ecuador, and Barranquilla, Colombia.

OurCity leverages local strengths, community engagement, and digital technologies to transform cities and promote the well-being of young people. One of the ways it accomplishes this end is by enabling young people to take part in city design and local governance.

Working with local partners, the program will collaborate with youth, civil society, policymakers, the private sector, innovators, and other city champions to work towards more inclusive cities. During the programs, which will run for 10 years, stakeholders within Manta and Barranquilla will be engaged in a cross-sector collaboration process, designing activities to suit each city.

In Barranquilla, Fundación Corona will partner with Botnar to deliver the programme. The partner organisation for OurCity in Manta is yet to be confirmed.

Manta and Barranquilla were selected after analysis found that both cities have young leadership that is open to collaboration, positive economic environments, and city governance that understands the value of cross-generational collaboration.

‘Urbanisation is now around 80 per cent in Latin American countries, which is more than in most other regions. Despite this, cities are not ready to support their populations. From education to healthcare, they are failing young people, damaging their well-being, and leaving them at risk of being left behind. We need inclusive mechanisms in place, which is why we are delighted to expand OurCity to Latin America, and work with such engaged youth and city leadership’, said Susanna Hausmann, Chief Program Officer at Fondation Botnar.

OurCity launched in 2018 in Tanga, Tanzania, and in 2020 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In Tanga, local youth were empowered by the programme to develop a digital city observatory platform to improve the use of data in decision making processes, as well as improve learning environments conditions in schools and entrepreneurship and digital literacy training. In Cluj-Napoca, the programme has led to the development of projects related to nutrition and healthy lifestyles in schools, youth participation in arts, STEM training platforms, and the development of school networks.

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