In a compelling morning of insights and discourse, Lucas Kifyasi, Head of Programs from UNA Tanzania, delivered a powerful address during a Breakfast Debate held at the end of July 2023 in Dar es Salaam. Highlighting the pressing issues that young people in Tanzania face, Kifyasi emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address these challenges and empower the nation's youth.
With statistics indicating that a staggering 75% of Tanzania's population falls below the age of 35, and 34.7% aged between 15 to 35, Kifyasi shed light on the critical situation young individuals are facing. Notably, these challenges disproportionately affect young girls and women, threatening their lives and potential. Obstacles range from limited access to quality education, healthcare, and decent employment opportunities.
During his address, Kifyasi articulated a clear set of priorities, beliefs, and aspirations for the country's youth. The priorities encompassed the provision of improved healthcare, secure employment, community engagement, and enhanced education. Moreover, Kifyasi highlighted the belief that young people should be partners in achieving Tanzania's sustainable development, rather than mere recipients of aid. Aspiring for youth to become drivers of positive social change, Kifyasi stressed the importance of equipping them with skills and capacities to tackle challenges collectively.
Several barriers hindering the release of the youth's potential were identified, transcending individual, community, and institutional levels. On an individual level, it was noted that, the lack of relevant skills, self-motivation, aversion to risk-taking, and the inability to network as limiting factors. Within the community, gender inequalities were emphasized, along with the tendency to view youth as problems rather than assets to invest in. The debate urged a paradigm shift, advocating for a change in mindset that recognizes youth as contributors to development.
Institutional systems and practices were also scrutinized, with a call for the effective implementation of development frameworks, particularly focusing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 5, 8, and 16. The debate underscored the significance of inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, and social development strategies as key drivers to empower youth, women, and people with disabilities.
The role of the government in youth empowerment emerged as a central theme in July’s Breakfast Debate. Kifyasi envisioned a scenario where young people are not only partners but also empowered to reach their fullest potential. This vision encompasses building agency, resilience, and recognizing the positive contributions of youth as change agents. The debate contended that such an approach would make young individuals active participants in driving Tanzania's sustainable development for a lasting impact.
Concrete steps were outlined to achieve these aspirations. The importance of tailored empowerment programs, governance of available funds, addressing gender disparities in economic ownership, and facilitating access to crucial services were stressed. The creation of an environment conducive to youth-led innovations was also underscored.
The debate concluded by emphasizing the need for stakeholders, including the government and the community, to take active roles in youth development. Some of the attendees proposed engaging young people in priority-setting, cultivating a culture of listening and accountability, and coordinating efforts among stakeholders to ensure progress.
In a resounding call to action, the presenter implored for clear goals, accountability, and increased budget allocations for youth development priorities. The Breakfast Debate provided a platform to align strategies and commitments toward a future where Tanzania's youth thrive as empowered leaders, shaping their communities and the nation at large.