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25 · MAY · 2012

The experience at UN Habitat in Nairobi of Kristine Grimstvedt, IBEI alumni 2010-11

My name in Kristine Grimstvedt and I am currently pursuing an internship at the headquarters of UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme) in Nairobi, Kenya. The internship lasts for six months in which I have already completed four.

The world is experiencing a rapid urbanization, which is creating further challenges among governments and their citizenry. UN-Habitat specializes on these issues and attains therefore the mandate of a sustainable urban development. Initially, I was part of the Training and Capacity Building Branch, however, the organization is going through an extensive reform and I have in this process had the opportunity to work in two of their areas of expertise. I am currently working in the Local Governance and Decentralization Unit in the Urban Legislation, Land and Governance Branch, which focuses on these issues through programmes such as Safer Cities and Global Land Tool Network. This has given me the great opportunity to learn more about these areas, both in theory and with project development. With a particular interest in capacity development, which also is a cross cutting theme in UN-Habitat, I feel that I have been able to work in two subjects very relevant to me. The Master in International Relations (with the pathway of Political Economy of Development) at IBEI has definitely been a positive contribution to the tasks I have been working on. Through the studies I have gained a broader perspective on development issues, which complemented effectively with my background in pedagogics. Here I have had the opportunity to combine these two.

Concerning my terms of reference, I am among many things developing the project note for a summer school for urban managers from sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of the course is to strengthen a multisectoral approach in policy design. I am also undertaking research and project documents on multiple related areas such as metropolitan governance; youth, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and governance; and urban participation.

I have also learned a lot from fruitful discussions with fellow colleagues and conferences on related subjects. This internship has also given me great insight in how an international organization such as UN-Habitat operates internally and collaborates with external stakeholders.

Living in beautiful Kenya has definitely made this experience a lot richer and I have made great friendships and contacts whom I will stay in contact with after the end this internship.

I would definitely recommend any student to apply for an UN-Habitat internship, I have learned valuable things and gained experience I would not otherwise achieved through academic literature.