All references to Kosovo below shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).
In Kosovo youth makes up one-third of the total population. Yet, it is a traditionally marginalized group. The young are underrepresented, with almost no say in the decision-making processes. Add corruption to the picture and the tendency that voices will fall on deaf ears is even higher. This does not go unnoticed even by the citizens themselves, as according to them, corruption is the third biggest issue harming their lives, after poverty and unemployment.
UNDP Kosovo believes that youth should be at the center of the agenda when addressing corruption because investing in youth has a powerful ripple effect on the community. This is why working with youth remains a crucial part of UNDP’s intervention in Kosovo. Similarly, UNICEF, our sister agency—through its Innovations Lab in Kosovo—has been investing a lot in youth empowerment through its many initiatives. Among the most eminent ones is the UpShift series.
Upshift uses a methodology called human centered design, which keeps the human, the people you are designing for, at the heart of the process when designing solutions to solve their problems. UNDP and UNICEF decided to join forces and implement the UpShift methodology to help fight corruption, enhance institutional transparency, and empower Kosovo youth to have equal access to information, justice, and decision making. We called it: UpShift Transparency.
UpShift Transparency was an event that gathered youth from eight municipalities in Kosovo (Prishtina, Prizren, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Gjakova/Djakovica, Mitrovica, Peja, Mamusha, and Gracanica) to spend a weekend in one of the most beautiful mountainous parts of Kosovo, Prevallë/Prevallac. There they identified corruption issues in their communities, and then by using innovative methods, more specifically human centered design, generated and designed pragmatic solutions for these problems.
Besides these intense working sessions with the aim of generating solutions, the camp consisted of talks from CSOs, media and government representatives; as well as fun activities such as anti-corruption movie night, karaoke night, etc. The uniqueness of this transparency youth camp was that it gathered youth from various ethnicities, including Albanians, Serbs and Turks. It is living proof that corruption is a common evil that affects everyone. It adds sand to the wheels of prosperity. Yet, the marginalized groups pay the biggest price.
At the end of the camp, all the teams had the chance to pitch their ideas in front of a professional jury. The three best ideas were selected and awarded with a €2,000 prize each to help with the implementation of the projects. The first idea aimed to tackle corruption in the education sector. The second and third ideas focused on creating more convenient channels for reporting corruption cases in general as well as in the employment processes. For the following three months, the team of the UNICEF Innovations Lab will support the winning groups turn their ideas into reality.
Another initiative supported by UNDP Kosovo to empower youth was Digigjakova, which provided young people with an opportunity to take on e-gov’t challenges in one Kosovo municipality. Digigjakova gathered teams of bright young software developers to address three e-government challenges facing the Municipality of Gjakovë/Djakovica, in western Kosovo.
The challenges are in the areas of e-recruitment, e-complaints, and e-spending. The teams competed during an extensive weekend web-solution development marathon (21-22 November). Winning teams will receive a cash prize of €4,000 each. Digigjakova is a continuation of events organized by the Support to Anti-Corruption Efforts in Kosovo (SAEK) project.
To know more about Digigjakova, please visit: