Government has launched the ‘Aim Youth Power Project (AYP)’ in Itezhi Tezhi, with the goal of strengthening the social accountability capacities of youth-led and youth-focused non-governmental organizations.
The project, which is being implemented in six provinces and is being funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur International Zusammernarbeit GmbH (GIZ), will work to increase civic engagement as well as transparency and accountability of government actions and policies in Zambia.
Speaking at the launch, Project Coordinator Chika Chilekwa stated that the project will empower Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to hold duty bearers accountable for youth-related services.
“We are having meetings here in Itezhi Tezhi with gate keepers, parents and guardians because there is a huge problem of child marriages and high school drop outs” Chilekwa said.
Restless Development is educating parents and traditional leaders on the importance of ensuring that children attend school.
The meetings serve as a platform for duty bearers to encourage communities to hold them accountable for promises made.
Itezhi Tezhi Member of Parliament (MP) Twaambo Mutinta ,who graced the launch said government attaches importance to child protection by ensuring that all children‘s rights are protected and promoted.
Mr Mutinta said government was providing social cash transfers through the social welfare department in order to reduce intergenerational poverty.
“The department also facilitates rights based and all-inclusive policies to promote the best interest of every child in the country by equipping juveniles justice system to effectively and efficiently provide quality justice services.” Mr. Mutinta said.
He said that the government was implementing the Keeping Girls in School (KGS) program to promote girls’ education, as well as providing free education to all children to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive an education.
The project will strengthen the local CSO’s ability to hold leaders accountable, support child protection issues, and eliminate all forms of Gender Based Violence.
The Lawmaker stated that the project has attracted participation from various government departments such as the Victim Support Unit (VSU), CSOs and Social Welfare .
During the launch events in Nachisenga and Nakabangwe, young people expressed varying perspectives on how they will meaningfully participate in the project’s implementation.
Ruth Mangango, a Nachisenga resident, has expressed gratitude for the Itezhi Tezhi project.
She said that the issue of child marriages in Itezhi Tezhi was extremely serious, with children as young as 12 being forced to participate in initiation ceremonies.
The Ministry of Community Development and Social services, Itezhi Tezhi Candle Light Community Response Organisation (ICCRO), Soul Aid, and Restless Development Zambia will carry out the project.