Young people strengthen their voice in the country’s development observatories
Maputo, 16 October 2007 – Every year, on 17 October, the world unites to celebrate the International Day for Poverty Eradication. This is one more occasion for drawing attention to the need to scale up efforts to eliminate poverty, particularly childhood poverty, and to the importance of involving children, adolescents and young people in planning and implementing development initiatives.
In Mozambique, children and young people now have more opportunities to influence decision making processes to ensure that their rights are placed at the centre of their communities’ development agenda.
As part of the various initiatives supported by UNICEF, youth organisations in Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula, Manica and Tete provinces have taken part in meetings with the provincial governments, where the Economic and Social Plan (PES) of their provinces was discussed. Their recommendations were taken to the “Development Observatory” (OD), in which they are represented, and are taken into consideration in planning activities and monitoring their progress.
“In the debates we look at aspects that concern children and youths,” says Artur Afonso, General Secretary of the Nampula Provincial Youth Council, which represented the Nampula youth associations in the OD held in that province this year.
The ODs, which up until last year were called “Poverty Observatories”, were set up in 2003 at national level and, since 2005, also in the provinces. The ODs are forums for the participatory monitoring of the implementation in Mozambique of the Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty.
“It is important that, in monitoring the implementation of the plans for governance, mechanisms be created to sound out the opinion of adolescents and youths on matters that concern them,”explains Eduardo Munhequete, President of the National Youth Council.
Munhequete adds that adolescents and youths need to know more about the instruments and programmes of governance, particularly on issues that affect them; they should have nore opportunities to participate in decision making forums such as the local consultative councils, school councils and health councils, among others.
To this end, several capacity building initiatives are being undertaken by the National Youth Council with the support of UNICEF.
“This year we have trained young communicators in the provinces to promote the rights of children and young people through the community radios and mobile units. In November, we will start preparing the young people to participate in these decision making forums,” says Munhequete.
According to the United Nations report Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis” significant progress have been made over the past decades in reducing poverty. However, about 49 per cent of children still live in absolute poverty and are deprived of two or more of their rights:
The report notes that children living in rural areas (63 per cent) are more affected than those in urban areas (20 per cent).
There are also disparities between provinces. In Zambezia province, for example, about 75 per cent of children live in absolute poverty, compared with only 3 per cent in the capital, Maputo.
However, it is in the districts that disparities are most important. The report highlights that in households where the head of the household has no education, 65 per cent of the children live in absolute poverty, compared with only 11 per cent in households where the head has secondary or higher education.