UNDP stands ready to assist youth empowerment in TanzaniaMar 10, 2016
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expressed its support to the government of the United Republic of Tanzania in scaling up the empowerment of its youth in response to the current social and economic dynamics facing the country. To assist in the government’s response efforts, UNDP along with other UN agencies and development partners said they were prepared to apply their experience and expertise to the worldwide phenomenon of young men and women calling for meaningful participation in the development agenda.
Such was the the message at a symposium on youth and development organised by UNDP Tanzania in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the Youth of United Nations Association of Tanzania (YUNA) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in the commemoration of the agency’s 50th anniversary. Attended by more than 500 young men and women drawn from a number of universities and colleges, the symposium sought to provide a forum for presentations and discussions on empowering the youth to contribute to and in doing so to influence the long-term development agenda set for Tanzania. The event also attracted representatives from government, civil society and the private sector, representing diverse interests.
Already in line with its strategy, UNDP has a number of existing programmes that are directed towards youth development. These include the capacity development of young people and youth-led organizations, and the development of youth caucuses in government, parliament and other bodies globally.
The agency has strong experience working in close cooperation with governments across the world to respond effectively to issues facing the youth, UNDP Country Director Awa Dabo, said. An important feature of UNDP’s focus was its Youth Strategy 2014-2017, which recognizes the involvement of young men and women in participatory decision-making and development processes as vital to achieving sustainable human development.
“UNDP is one of many actors championing the involvement of youth in the global development agenda, believing that there can be no sustainable development without them. Neither the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), nor sustained peace and security can be achieved in the face of exclusion and continued inequality,” Awa noted.
“UNDP promotes youth participation and equality using a human rights based approach, and ensuring that youth are able to make and influence decisions that will have an effect on their lives. UNDP’s Youth Strategy recognises the complex developmental challenges youth face and offers concrete recommendations on how these can be addressed in partnership with governments and non-governmental actors, in a way that gives the youth themselves a voice,” she said.
Like many countries, Tanzania is faced with the task of harnessing the potential of its youth population, to accelerate its development, in a way that would provide opportunities for their substantive contribution towards poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and a peaceful and healthy nation. As of 2012, the youth aged between 15 – 35 years, was estimated to be roughly 34.7 percent of the total Tanzanian population. Yet the youth population is not a passive one - with increased interest in the democratic process and long-term development of the country.
With a multitude of key issues including political and governance processes, unequal wealth distribution and development benefits, the expected growth in industrialization and subsequent economic growth, regional security issues and direct impact on the country, the expected growth in the extractives industry and potential for community level conflicts if not properly managed, and the global, regional threat of radicalization all serve to provide an immense number of concerns in the presence of a such a sizeable youth population.
“Supporting the youth population to prepare for and to participate in the development processes and strategies is a good way of ensuring that opportunities for the youth to tailor and influence the long term development outcomes of their country are captured,” Awa said. “Engagement of youth necessitates a multi-sectoral methodology that will seek to include a broader and more integrated approach, and with a view towards building their resilience, accounting for commonalities and differences and including specificities of gender, that embraces innovation and technology,” she added.
According to UNDP, in light of the fast evolving social and economic context Tanzania faces today, the environment is ripe for more upscaled and comprehensive engagement with the Tanzanian youth in the future of the country and specifically the move towards Vision 2025. The youth symposium was one such forum that would allow for this type of engagement.