In 2022, the City of Nairobi, Kenya, was selected as a grantee of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees (GCF), the MMC’s instrument to channel international funding directly to cities to implement inclusive projects of their own design.
With support from the GCF, the City of Nairobi is establishing its first-ever CHOICE Innovation Center, a one-stop-shop for youth employment and entrepreneurship. The center is advancing Nairobi’s inclusive and just green transition by training over 100 youth in green job readiness and incubating start-ups that will improve Nairobi’s waterways and raise awareness about climate mitigation.
Kenya is home to more than 600,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people, nearly 100,000 of whom live in Nairobi. Nairobi’s migrant communities often live in insecure conditions and lack access to basic services and dignified, formal employment. These challenges grew during the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns curtailed the informal economy and slowed remittances.
Simultaneously, climate change and environmental degradation continue to threaten refugees, many of whom live in low-income informal neighborhoods. Not only are climate disasters a key driver of human mobility to Nairobi, but the city has also struggled with water pollution, flooding, and other environmental challenges.
The City of Nairobi, in partnership with the local organization Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA), is using the GCF to improve access to employment for migrants and other marginalized members of the community, while supporting the local green economy, promoting inclusive climate action, and improving the city’s public spaces and waterways.
The City of Choice project team worked alongside refugee-led organizations like Relon and L’Africana to survey migrants and internally displaced people about their skills and employment needs. Using the insights from this survey, Nairobi is establishing its first-ever CHOICE Innovation Hub, a one-stop shop for youth employment and entrepreneurship. Located in the city’s Central Business District, the center is training over 100 youth on green job readiness and incubating 10 green start-ups. These businesses are cleaning and greening Nairobi’s waterways and public spaces, as well as raising awareness about the importance of climate mitigation and environmental stewardship among the city’s youth. These businesses will clean the Nairobi River, introduce environmentally friendly production methods, and raise awareness on climate mitigative behavior through youth friendly platforms, such as social media, radio, and television.
Arthur Johnson Sajaka, Governor of Nairobi City County
We will improve the livelihoods of residents through business opportunities that will create green jobs, clean our waterways, and give all the opportunity to enjoy Nairobi’s economic growth.
As a result of the City of Choice project, Nairobi is providing migrants with access to sustainable, green employment; improving its public spaces and waterways; and strengthening its commitment to a just and inclusive green transition.
Nairobi is providing livelihoods training to 100 youth, including migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people. The CHOICE Innovation Center is also incubating 10 green start-ups, which are helping clean the Nairobi River waterway and engaging youth across the city on climate action.
To date, the city has also engaged more than 400 Nairobi residents, including migrants, through community events focused on climate change awareness and mitigation.
The city’s initial investment in this project is helping spur further commitments to inclusive climate action. For example, Governor Arthur Sajaka has appointed Nairobi City County’s first ever Chief Officer for Social Services and Refugee Affairs, with the mandate to improve socioeconomic programming for displaced communities. The City of Choice project’s goals are also reflected in the ongoing work of Nairobi’s River Commission, which plans to create an inclusive green jobs corridor along the city’s riverfront.
Stay tuned for more impact updates at the end of Nairobi’s GCF grant term!
Project Team, City of Choice
The GCF is timely, and it has highlighted the pressing challenges faced by refugees, migrants, and IDPs in Nairobi that will require continuous funding for realization of the outcomes at scale.