The Malawi Human Rights Youth Network (MHRYN) embarked on a project whose goal was to promote accountability and youth participation in local governance structures in Thyolo. One of the project’s key strategies was to build the capacity of the youth at national level on budget tracking, Local Government Act and Human Rights, Lobbying and Advocacy. The project recognized that participation is one of the key principles of good governance. However, it was evident that participation of young people in local governance was a challenge in Thyolo as was the case in other districts national wide. The project strived to contribute towards improved inclusion, participation and empowerment of youth and citizens of Thyolo and Malawi in the democratic processes at the grassroots level.
The primary target of the project was the youth as a marginalized group; whilst also targeting the electorate in the project catchment areas. The project was implemented in Lilongwe, Balaka and Machinga as follows:
The main target of the project were the youth who are a marginalized group; Besides Thyolo district, the capacity building and advocacy project initiative reached out to youths in 26 districts where MHRYN affiliates are based. In Thyolo district the project was implemented in the following constituencies and wards: Thyolo Central Constituency-Khonjeni and Nchima wards; Thyolo Thava Constituency-Dzimbiri and Thava wards; and Thyolo North Constituency- Mikolongwe and Makungwa wards.
The Project Overall Goal, Specific Objectives and the Expected Outcomes were:
Project Overall Goal
Increased youth participation in local governance processes for responsive and accountable district and local councils.
- Promote informed youth and citizens on local governance systems and structures.
- Promote positive working relationships and accountability at district level between elected duty bearers and citizen groups and the council.
- Advocate for increased youth inclusion and participation in local governance structures in Malawi
- Councilors and Area Development Committees are collaborating well in terms of development work in the areas with the youth and that their relationship is improving every step of the way.
- The Public Expenditure Tracking sessions are helping the youth track finances in their respective communities. This is enabling the youth to ensure that the duty bearers are responsible for the resources that are entrusted in their hands. The PET meetings in the Traditional Authorities were few but managed to come up with some positive outcomes, for example youth in Bvumbwe held their Area Development Committee to account for funds utilized on a bridge constructed in the area. The youth group had information on the MASAF fund allocated to the project and the PET session of the bridge revealed per the standards and the bridge is now rebuilt.
- Youth are able to attend Council meetings and present their concerns before the council. This is a positive change because in the past the youth were not allowed to attend such meetings and this led to the youth not participating to the developmental issues in their localities.
- The duty bearers have understood their roles and those of the youth keeping in mind that the youth have their role to play in terms of project development in their communities.