National Youth Policy awareness empowers petty traders in Mbeya

The Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) grantee, Amani the Foundation of Life, has managed to transform the ‘rioting’ petty traders in Mbeya into more responsible, engaging and hence law abiding citizens - through training and dissemination of the National Youth Development Policy of 2008.

 Through the funding from the FCS since 2011 the organisation has been able to train and educate the youth group, particularly the petty traders - commonly known as ‘Machingas’ and ‘Mama Lishes’ - to understand better their roles and responsibilities, and hence reduce their tensions with the Police, City Council and other local authorities.

 This was made known to participants of the FCS joint monitoring tour of projects held in Mbeya region in the first week of December by Amani the Foundation of Life Executive Secretary, Philemon Mwansasu.

 Explaining on the earlier predicament facing the Machingas in Mbeya, James Eli Mwepa, who is the chairperson of petty traders forum in Mbeya says before Amani the Foundation of Life had reached them with training on the Youth Policy, they were fighting like cats and dogs with the Police over where exactly they should relocate and conduct their petty businesses.

 As a result, on 11 Nov 2011 there erupted an unprecedented riot between the Machingas and the Police in Mbeya.

 According to Mwansasu, this was an opportune time and through their FCS supported intervention his organisation managed to distribute copies of the 2008 Youth Policy to key officers at the Mbeya City Council and trained the youth for the first time on key issues highlighted in the Youth Development Policy.

 Mwanasasu told the participants of the joint monitoring tour of projects in Mbeya  (comprising of some FCS Board of Directors, the Management and representatives from the FCS Development Partners) that over 800 copies of the policy were distributed and elaborated to the Machingas for the first time.

 “Since then, our organisation has become a key player to advise the youth on major development issues in the region, such as taking a leading role in the formation of three youth forums in Mbeya town, Kyela and Rungwe districts,” Mwansasu told the FCS joint tour of projects which comprised of some representatives from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Embassy of Norway and the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) who are the FCS Development Partners.

 Mwansasu said, following the awareness on the policy, the Mbeya City Council has started to allocate 10% of its revenue collections for the youth development issues, the amount that goes directly to the Machingas-own-established Savings and Credits Cooperative Organisation (SACCOSS).

 Mwepa says Amani intervention has helped the Machingas in the region to organise themselves through their elected representatives and engage in frank dialogues with the City Director, the Mayor and other local authorities as was unprecedented before.

 “Awareness on the Youth Policy has motivated us to elect our representatives and we are now able to engage with city authorities,” said Mwepa who is the chair of petty traders in Mbeya.

 He added that: “Now we are concentrating on one section of the policy which calls for the local authorities to allocate areas for the youth to conduct business and recreational activities,” says Mwepa.

 According to Mwepa, the youth through their Machinga forum in Mbeya do meet every month to discuss the progress of their development issues – with Amani the Foundation for Life providing them with the technical capacity on how to engage successfully, adhering to proper channels.

 “Now we feel more empowered since we know our rights. And after receiving the education on the youth policy we no longer go for rioting when seeking for our rights. There are proper channels to follow,” says Gwamaka Mwakatoke, who is a representative of Rungwe youth forum facilitated by Amani the Foundation of Life.

 Over 450 youth have directly been reached by Amani the Foundation of Life on the training campaign regarding the 2008 National Youth Development Policy.

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