Intersectionality in Sustainable Development

Understanding that social groups, cultures and beliefs will be interconnected and cannot be viewed as separate in the development spectrum is crucial to remember. Intersectionality in provides us with the ability to be more effective in all areas of the development process whether it involves program management, program implementation, capacity management and building or monitoring and evaluation.

For my project, looking at intersectionality in Kibera and Kenya as a whole is the foundation for any proper project implementing. In particular, youth and ethnicity are two areas that share intersectionalities and need to be equally understood in the Kenyan context. In Kibera, its ethnic composition has resulted in the settlement having a sizable amount of ethnic conflicts in its history. In 2007, Umande Trust outlined the ethnic composition of the Kibera population as including:

Luo: 30%, Kikuyu: 20%, Kamba: 19%, Luhya: 14%, Others: 11%, Kalenjin: 6%

Youth in the African context is also integral to understand when it comes to the continent’s development. In Youth Development in Africa Policies and Trends at the Global Level, The 2006 United Nations Program on Youth was a small program within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs which had the main purpose of “informing and servicing intergovernmental processes on youth issues” (2). The program discusses the integration and intersectionalities of youth in development by grouping them into three clusters which include:

  1. Youth in a Global Economy: Globalization, Education, Employment, Hunger and Poverty
  2. Youth in Civil Society: Environment, Leisure, Participation, Intergenerational, ICT
  3. Youth and their Wellbeing: Health, HIV/AIDS, Drugs, Delinquency, Young Women, Armed Conflict

The document provides proposals for action which align well with my final project. Umande Trust has many youth projects which seek to address the intersectionalities between youth and the environment in Kibera. This document proposes for the environment that there is an integration of environmental training into formal media and an enhancing of the role of media as a tool for widespread dissemination of environmental issues for the youth.

In addition, in other literature regarding youth in Africa, we see the need for increased access to information and data to assess the well-being of African youth. As outlined in the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative report, Youth Policy and the Future of African Development, the summary of the study explains how “limited data hinder the measurement of the well-being of African youth” (6). In assessing the factors behind youth and poverty in settlements in Kibera, it is important to note how the report also describes that “youth unemployment rates are relatively high, with significant regional difference and adverse consequences such as poverty, migration and diseases” (6). In order to understand the factors behind poverty in the Kenyan and African context, concepts surrounding the youth and ethnicity are just two examples of how intersectionality is a must in contemporary development.