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Sustainable Development Step-by-Step: Kehypaja at Iisalmi

Keywords: Poverty Eradication
Social Exclusion/Integration


The Association Iisalmi Youth Aid launched the KEHYPAJA project in 1987. The goal was to provide employment for the unemployed youth and help them improve their living conditions. Another aim was to integrate working and development cooperation. In KEHYPAJA's development centre training and employment has been provided for several hundred people. The scope of activities has been expanding continuously. A vocational training centre has also been established in Tanzania. New activities are in the pipeline.

KEHYPAJA financing is typical for a Finnish NGO, but it has been able to achieve much better results with much less resources than ordinary projects.


    Goals of KEHYPAJA

Iisalmi is a small city in Central Finland, in an area where the unemployment rate has remained high especially among the youth. This has led to delinquency and other social problems. The Association Iisalmi Youth Aid (Iisalmen Nuorison Tuki r.y) was established in 1987 with a view to help the unemployed youth to help themselves through the KEHYPAJA project.

The KEHYPAJA project was launched to benefit especially the youth who have been marginalized in the society, or are at risk of being marginalized, and who are living in poor economic conditions.

The initial aim of KEHYPAJA was to provide employment to the unemployed, especially the youth. Development co-operation activities were included in the employment efforts in order to provide a tangible and meaningful goal for work. Since then, several hundred people have been employed and trained by KEHYPAJA.


    KEHYPAJA in Iisalmi, Finland

KEHYPAJA stands for "development workshop". Its first activities included collecting and repairing second-hand household and farming equipment. This equipment was then donated to developing countries.

Today KEHYPAJA operates in an industrial building of 4000 sq.m. The "development workshop" means both training and work:

  • "Workshops" are a part of training.
  • The metal workshops include repair units for sewing machines and bicycles, household appli-ances and electronic equipment. Also new prod-ucts are produced.
  • Garage "Car pocket" provides space also for do-it-your-self car repairers.
  • Wood workshops are used for furniture reparations and new products.
  • The recycling centre, including a wood recycl-ing centre "Woodstock" aims, together with other activities, at promoting environmental protection.
  • Freon gas is recovered from freezers which are converted into composters at KEHYPAJA.
  • KEHYPAJA has activities aimed at improving the state of lakes and forests, and ecological products are being developed.
  • In the dress-making department and shop, new cloth-ing (using also Tanzanian material) is produced and sold, and second-hand clothing is mended and refashioned.
  • In the stone workshop, jewelry is prepared using Finnish stones.
  • Products of the Third World countries are sold in the shop.
  • Workshops are also used as training centres. The trainees of Iisalmi have an opportunity to strengthen their skills in Tanzania and the Tanzanians in Iisalmi.
  • The coffee shop provides snacks and meals for the staff and visitors.
  • Training is provided in ecological construction technol-ogies (for instance clay) which are applied in projects in Iisalmi and Tanzania.
  • KEHYPAJA is about to start an international trainee exchange programme with similar workshops for youth in other EU countries (Stichting Welzijn, Hol-land).
  • KEHYPAJA co-operates with the Probation and After-Care Association in a pilot project through which community work is arranged for delin-quent youth as a new type of sanc-tion.
  • KEHYPAJA produces new and repairs second-hand equipment for the Tushikamane Centre and trains most of its teachers.

Training of Tanzanian youth in practical skills is an integral part of the KEHYPAJA project in Iisalmi. International work camps have also been arranged, with participants from all over the world.

    Tushikamane Centre, Morogoro, Tanzania

Iisalmi Youth Aid has also established a voca-tional training centre, the Tushikamane Centre, in Morogoro, Tanzania. About 80 Tanzanian youth are employed in teaching and production in this centre. The training centre functions as a so-called production school, covering most part of its operating costs by revenues from its products and services. In 1994, for example, over 350 Tanzanians studied at the Tushikamane.

    Row houses "Jarrenpiha" 1 and 2

Iisalmi Youth Aid has also built housing for the young in Iisalmi. In 1991 - 1993 two row houses were built, including altogether 26 flats. Youth Aid itself was responsible for the construction. Thanks to this input, the construction costs were about 35 per cent lower than the average. Environmental aspects were taken into account in the selection of building materials, for example.

The rents for Jarrenpiha flats are low, and the tenants themselves contribute to the management of the buildings, taking also care of such maintenance tasks as heating and cleaning of the common spaces. Community spirit is also promoted by the design of buildings which include much space for joint social activities. The aim is to facilitate positive social contacts between inhabitants.

    Contact place "Blackfoot" and street work

Since 1986 Iisalmi Youth Aid has operated a contact place Africafe /Blackfoot, where young people can meet each other and professional and voluntary youth workers. The contact place also serves cheap lunches for the unem-ployed together with the Iisalmi Association of the Unem-ployed.

The contact cafe "Blackfoot" is open for the young on all weekdays except Sundays. About 70 % of the adolescents in Iisalmi, aged 13-17, uses the services of the contact place on weekends.

During the last 15 years, street work and searching youth work have also been carried out by the volunteers of Youth Aid of Iisalmi.


No in-depth evaluation of KEHYPAJA'S activities has yet been carried out. However, among the unemployed the development centre in Iisalmi has become a popular place for training. Better results have been achieved with lower costs than in usual projects aimed at helping those whose living conditions are difficult.

It is also remarkable that at the centre of Iisalmi juvenile delinquency and vandalism by the age group 13-17 decreased by even 50 per cent after the contact place BLACKFOOT was started.

Furthermore, KEHYPAJA has helped Tanzanian partners at the Tushikamane centre in the street work, training, cul-tural and productive activities.


Iisalmi Youth Aid has identified the following develop-ment needs which would have to be met in the Finnish society:

    * TO CREATE a system of basic income, through which the unem-ployed can supplement their basic (small) unemployment benefits by working, edu-cation and other meaningful activities;

    * TO DEVELOP a long-term financing system for social activ-ities by changing the legislation and practices;

    * TO SUPPORT the co-operative business ideas of the youth working within the development centres.


Iisalmi Youth Aid is currently examining possibilities of:

  • Constructing an ecological residential area (for about 700 persons) in Morogoro, Tanzania;
  • Establishing another Tushikamane Centre in Dodoma, Tanzania;
  • Constructing an ecological residential area in Iisalmi;
  • Starting an exchange programme between youth workshops in various countries (Stichting Welzijn, Holland);
  • Implementing community service and other new forms of sanctions for delinquent youths in Iisalmi;
  • Increasing actions for the maintenance and improvement of lakes and forests in Iisalmi.

All in all, the KEHYPAJA project is a remarkable eco-social process which can give - in addition to personal experiences of the participants - valuable knowledge for solving future problems.


  • The activity has expanded from a small workshop to a small-scale industrial enterprise;
  • Training and employment has been provided to hundreds of youths;
  • Housing has been constructed on a self-help basis for the youths;
  • 70% of Iisalmi's adolescents use Kehypaja's contact place;
  • A vocational training centre has also been established in Tanzania;
  • The Tanzanian centre employs 80 youths in teaching and production;
  • The Tanzanian centre provides training for several hundred youths annually.


KEHYPAJA's total annual expenditure is about 10 million FIM. To cover its costs, KEHYPAJA receives support from vari-ous public agencies as follows:

  • Ministry of Labour, about 40 per cent;
  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 20 per cent;
  • Iisalmi City Council, 15 per cent;
  • Finland's Slot Machine Association, 5-10%;
  • Ministry of Education.

It also receives revenue from its own production, which covers about 15 per cent of its operating costs.

The financial base of KEHYPAJA is thus typical for a Finnish NGO. What makes the difference is the way it uses the money: through its actions based on voluntary and self-help inputs, it is able to achieve much more than ordinary projects with similar goals. Also its efforts to build community spirit and strengthen the identity of the youth have led to remarkable results.


    Manager/Association Iisalmi Youth Aid
    Kivirannantie 32
    358-77-142 43


    Association Iisalmi Youth Aid
    Manager/Association Iisalmi Youth Aid
    Kivirannantie 32
    358-77-142 43


    Iisalmi Town Council
    Liukkonen, Mr. Matti
    Parmaajantie 4 L 97
    358-0-2949 2388

    Ministry of Labour, Finland
    Hellar, Ms. Agnes/Tushikamane Centre
    P.O. Box 765

    The Probation and Aftercare Association

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