Dispatch

08 September 2010

Life on the Edge: A Closer Look at the MDGs through the Lens of Young People

NEW YORK — On paper, the Millennium Development Goals form a neat and orderly roadmap of development priorities. How these priorities match up with the complicated lives of young people struggling to find their way in diverse realities is the subject of a BBC World series of investigative video reports on the MDGs.

The ‘Life on the Edge - Five Years to Go’ project aims to increase awareness, understanding and debate about existing and new challenges currently facing five sub-Saharan African countries trying to achieve the MDGs by 2015. UNFPA is one of the partners supporting this series. Here are brief descriptions of the five programmes, which can be viewed on the special ‘Life on the Edge’ website, along with back-up features and comments.

Biker Boys of the Dirt Island Boniface is trying to convince his friend Kama to turn straight and think about the future. But in a slum like Nairobi’s Korogocho, where life is lived on the edge, is his mission possible? Bonnie is one of the founders of the motorcycle boys, a team of young men who used to steal from their neighbours, but now drive them around Korogocho on their motorbikes, for a fee. Kama is one of their latest recruits. Their arguments range from money and crime to a central question of slum rehabilitation: is it best to start upgrading the place or the people?

Hassan and the Graduates Hassan was a bright young Egyptian graduate who like many in Egypt – and across the world – had believed his young family would have a bright future in the city. Now he’s been tempted by a government offer of land to any graduate willing to farm it. Have Hassan and 40,000 other graduates been true pioneers, when the knowledge economy worldwide isn’t providing enough jobs?

Scent of the Streets Every big city has gangs of young people on the margins... in Lagos, Nigeria, it’s the Area Boys, bands of children and teenagers who scratch a living from petty crime and the informal economy. But when you’re an Area Girl, life can be even tougher... especially in Lagos’ teeming Ajegunle ghetto. In this ‘Life on the Edge’, the Area Girls take us into their world of street runs, ‘claiming tough’, hawking, bottle fights, and internet cafe dreams of breaking out into another world... of schooling, modelling, family -- or simply a decent wage.

Sorie K and the MDGs Musician Sorie Kondi, blind from birth, has been called Sierra Leone’s Stevie Wonder – but that may be premature. Sill trying to make it as a world musician, Sorie is worried about the future of his 14-year-old daughter Zainab. If Sierra Leone can’t meet the Millennium Development Goals on schooling, Sorie’s family may be among the casualties. Touring Sierra Leone with his portable amplifier... can Sorie find new songs for his next album and hope for Zainab?

Trawler Girl Out at sea, Johanna’s running the show... Namibia’s first female trawler captain has a crew of 23. But it’s not so long since she was living in a shantytown, with no running water, a girl from the villages who used to walk 14 kilometres to school. On her few days’ leave on land, Johanna travels 1,500 kilometres back home to find other girls seizing the chance like her... though for the boys it may be a different matter.