Youth Advocates For population, environment, and development

In December 2019, 10 dynamic youth advocates from East and Southern Africa working in wildlife conservation, reproductive health and family planning, nutrition, and agriculture were selected in a competitive application process to enhance their skills in evidence-based policy communication. With the support of the PACE Project and GOAL Malawi, the youth advocates were trained in policy advocacy focused on holistic, integrated approaches in population, environment, and development (PED) that promote healthy communities and a healthy planet. Equipped with additional skills and knowledge, the youth advocates worked for the past nine months to advance PED policy goals in their communities.

Here are some of their stories.


Reinhard Bonke Nyandire | KENYA

The Nairobi National Park is a unique conservation area: it is home to four of the "Big Five" species, yet it is adjacent to a bustling capital city. On the borders of the park, urban growth and human activity can lead to conflict between the community and wildlife as the city expands. PED Youth Advocate Reinhard seized the window of opportunity in the redrafting period of the Nairobi National Park management plan to advocate for community needs, including access to health care and family planning, to be integrated through a community-based task force that supports ownership of conservation among the communities bordering the park. Not only did the Nairobi National Park adopt the community-facing management strategy in the revised management plan, but the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife also committed to keeping the park fence-free and doubling its size.

See media coverage of Reinhard's advocacy work here and here.


Ojok James Onono | UGANDA

Working to protect indigenous tree species in Gulu District of Uganda, PED Youth Advocate James has expanded his conservation advocacy to build PED champions within the district council and beyond. Targeting officials overseeing budget allocations, James successfully advocated for increased funding to ensure that district health facilities maintain access to essential care, including family planning, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, James called on the National Forestry Authority to increase support to Gulu University and the surrounding community by donating tree seedlings to support local livelihoods and combat deforestation.


Faith Norah Lukosi | KENYA

Sixty percent of the more than 4.3 million people living in Nairobi County reside in informal settlements that can be densely populated and vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. While urbanization is recognized as a key contributor to climate change, the county has yet to adopt a climate action plan. PED Youth Advocate Faith tackled the need for a plan to address the welfare of Nairobi's most vulnerable, especially women and youth in its response to climate change. Faith established a consortium of civil society groups who successfully secured support from the Nairobi County Assembly for a budget allocation towards a climate change plan. Now, she is working with the consortium to propose a draft plan that includes a multisectoral, gender-sensitive strategy for building Nairobi's resilience to climate change.


Ruth Mhone | MALAWI

As an agrarian society with nearly 80% of the population in rural areas, Malawi's economy and the well-being of its people and environment are closely tied to agriculture. However, youth and women face barriers in access to land, financial resources, and other assets despite their large representation in agricultural work. PED Youth Advocate Ruth worked to amplify the voices of youth in sustainable, climate-smart agriculture and community development through advocacy with traditional leaders, local government, and agriculture networks. Ruth leveraged policy communication strategies and media engagement to successfully integrate youth participation into community strategic plans and agriculture networks, ensuring their voices are heard.


Katlego Motsoeneng | SOUTH AFRICA

In South Africa, access to land, and therefore livelihoods and food security, remains limited for marginalized groups such as rural women. In turn, food insecurity and malnutrition persist, with an estimated 41% of people in rural areas suffering from severely inadequate access to food. PED Youth Advocate Katlego engaged government stakeholders to emphasize the interconnected issues of land access, health, and food security facing rural women and their families. Thanks in part to her advocacy, the Thabo Mafutsanyana District in Free State has committed to prioritizing rural women and other underrepresented groups in land distribution.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS | Testimonies of PED Youth Advocates

"The partnership with PRB/GOAL has been rewarding in so many ways. For the longest time I have preferred to work behind the scenes playing a supportive role because I didn't want to be in the spotlight ... it is easy for activists to be able to point out all the wrongs but it becomes pertinent to come up with solutions and chart the way forward for everyone involved." - Katlego Motsoeneng, South Africa
"I have learnt how to advocate and shift the plans with key stakeholders and policy makers in terms of what I stand for, my values and principles and how these beliefs can be achieved ... These experiences help me to fully take into effect how I can advocate for change within my organization and how that change can be realized." - Joseph Kalimbwe, Zambia
"Working with local leaders ... to design project activities builds trust and ownership. I was lacking trust of political leaders due to corruption and unfulfilled promises ... and due to the partnership, I realized most of the leaders trust efforts of the youth and consider us as future leaders within my community." - Thomas Shabalala, South Africa
"It's hard for policymakers to resist evidence-based advocacy! I have become a pro[fessional] on evidence-based advocacy, thanks to PRB and GOAL!" - Faith Norah Lukosi, Kenya
"I couldn't have known or have the ability to figure out who my audiences are, plan for my policy goal, even forming one. The partnership increased knowledge, provided necessary guidance, ability to meet deadlines, implementation of planned tasks and increased self-confidence while meeting various stakeholders." - Thomas Shabalala, South Africa
"What I realized is that anyone can influence government to take action on a certain cause...just because of PRB/GOAL they gave us their ears. After the campaign I plan to continue." - Damien Mouzoun, Rwanda

This publication was written by Tess E. McLoud, policy advisor under PACE, with review from Kristen P. Patterson, Kaitlyn Patierno, Elizabeth Leahy Madsen, Heidi Worley, and Liselle Yorke. It is made possible by the generous support of USAID under cooperative agreement AID-AA-A-16-00002. The information provided in this document is the responsibility of PRB, is not official U.S. government information, and does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. Government.

All photos courtesy of youth advocates and Images of Empowerment.