Youth Participation




Written by: Richard Mabala

TAMASHA has been contracted by FHI Ujana Project to provide technical assistance on youth participation to FHI and its implementing partners.  In order to do this, TAMASHA held a workshop to assess levels of participation in the organisations in October 2010, which has been followed up by a TOT on youth participation in Morogoro in February 2011.

The workshop also developed minimum standards for participation and indicators which will be assessed when TAMASHA pays follow up visits to the implementing partners in April.

Overall, it has been a very good experience for TAMASHA to meet youth organisations and youth serving organisations and share experiences and expertise with them.  It has already had a good impact on TAMASHA’s own work.

Key lessons learned

  • It is easy to use the vocabulary of participation without necessarily putting participation into practice. That is why the FHI tool for assessing participation requires that one talks to all in the organisation not just the leaders.  The adults tend to talk about cooperation (ushirikiano) while the youth talk about participation (ushiriki).  Many adults even in these organisations would still like to control participation or ensure participation on their terms.
  • It is not enough to talk about participation INSIDE the organisation. We also have to look at how the young people with whom the organisation is supposed to work (the so called targets) also participate. This also has to be divided according to gender, age and vulnerability
  • The most vulnerable young people, and the younger ones, especially the girls, often do not get a look in. Specific efforts have to be made to ensure that they can also participate
  • There are big differences between organisations with a youth component, youth serving organisations and youth only organisations. The nature of participation has to be adapted to the kind of organisation.  However, certain basic principles should stand, whatever the organisation

Youth organisations also need to develop a succession and exit strategy, as do Youth Wings in Arusha.  Once you reach the age of 30 you become an ambassador and leave the space for younger youth.  However the crunch time has not come yet when many reach the age of 30. 

The experience of SYGA (Save Your Generation Association) in Ethiopia showed that some 30 year olds are reluctant to give up as that is all they have.  That is why members have to be enabled to develop their capacity before that age so that moving up and out is exciting rather than forced.