Young people in slums are accessing clean water and sanitation, receiving training to find jobs and learning skills to have a greater voice in decisions that affect their lives. Young people in slums are accessing clean water and sanitation, receiving training to find jobs and learning skills to have a greater voice in decisions that affect their lives.

Over 800 million people live in slums and are unable to meet their basic needs. On World Cities Day 2015, meet the young people taking action in their communities to improve living conditions in their communities.

Fedesco, 23, lives in the West Point township in Liberia. With the support of Liberia YMCA, he learnt about his rights as a young slum dweller and gained skills to spread the knowledge to his peers. It has had a lasting impact on Fedesco and his community: “everything about the project is unique, this project helped to change the negative thinking about advocacy that I had on mind, because I never knew the definition of advocacy and I thought it was one man business.” After his training, Fedesco became a leader for change. “There are a lot of difference we can now see within our community, for me I can now handle issues that is affecting my family, friends, and my community.” Many of the young people are now busy with skills training, or have begun to use these skills to earn a better income. Fedesco plans to continue helping his community and making a difference.

We're working with young people in slum communities in LIberia, Togo and Sierra Leone.

We’re working with young people in slum communities in LIberia, Togo and Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone, 28-year-old mother Fatmata runs a business selling small toiletry items such as combs and hairdressing cream. She usually works alongside the drainage system in the Dworzack community, but the “bad odour produced by the decomposed solid waste including human wastes create lots of inconveniences for us doing business as well as pedestrians and people who dwell closer to the drainage.” Although Fatmata and her fellow sellers have tried to clean the drains themselves, she describes how “the attitude and knowledge of community members have been very difficult to change in terms of proper waste management and environmental cleaning.” There were people who continued to dump waste, sometimes under cover of night. The YMCA has been giving training to spread the message about how people can make this community a safer place for everyone. The drains are now clear, which means it is safer for Fatmata to work there and to receive customers, “without fear of being infected by air-borne diseases.”

Pélagie, aged 27, lives in the Katanga slum in Togo, where inhabitants are facing eviction. She joined a savings group and has been learning the skills she needs to bring the community’s problems to those who can make changes. According to Pélagie, “Every meeting we attended encouraged us and gave us confidence.” She has seen what the skills can lead to thanks to exchange visits from Ghanaian delegates, who she says “started just like us and who, thanks to this organisation, have now evolved and managed to find more adequate solutions to their problems.”

Patience is also from the Katanga slum, and is a member of the advocacy group for her community. She learnt “how to strategically influence in a non-violent way” to encourage authorities and decision-makers “to take measures that can change a given situation and achieve satisfactory results.” She is keen to put these new skills into practice to make her community a healthy place to live.

These young people are just some of those who are taking an active role in changing their communities for the better. Text YGIV01 £10 to 70070 to help us reach thousands more.