At the end of June, Restless Development in Tanzania gave 13 young people (seven female, six male) the opportunity take part in a USAID consultation to contribute directly to the development of a new USAID youth policy. Five major problems were identified by the young people during the consultation: unemployment, lack of youth participation in decision-making, lack of youth understanding of their skills and potential, lack of knowledge and rights, and impact of myths about HIV and AIDS. Participants identified gender discrimination as a cross cutting issue to all these problems.
Young people told USAID that ‘just giving money is not a solution to the problem’. They explained the need for youth education, and training to enable young people to access resources, and use them effectively. They wanted ‘less one-off trainings and more long-term tailored capacity building support based on specific skills gaps and priorities’. They strongly felt young people needed to be involved in developing, implementing and monitoring programmes and services, to make them more accessible to young people. They wanted support to help parents, elders, and employers to understand the added value of involving and supporting youth participation in decision-making, and youth leadership, within the family, community and the workplace.
Regarding the USAID Youth Policy, they asked USAID to recognise ‘young people as the experts on the needs and priorities of young people’, and not to treat them simply as ‘beneficiaries’. Participants encouraged USAID to involve young people in policy development from planning, implementation, and review of achievements once it is implemented. USAID very positively saw this consultation as a first step in a series of engagements with youth-led groups in the development of its policy, and follow up support is planned.