Above: Youth cooperative members prepare land for cultivation
In Keembe (Chibombo District), communities rely on agriculture to sustain a livelihood. However, distribution of subsidised farming equipment by the government is biased towards elderly community members and young people are not considered for support. This leaves young people dependent on their guardians’ limited earnings, and increases the likelihood of high risk behaviour such as prostitution and stealing.
Since March 2011, Restless Development has implemented its youth-led accountability model in Keembe, creating awareness of young people’s rights as enshrined in the National Youth Policy. Restless Development is training and supporting young people to lobby local leaders for full access to critical agricultural and health services.
In June 2011, 20 young people in Keembe formed a self-assessment committee to review challenges faced by young people in the community. Supported by the Community Development Office, they were given the opportunity to present their views to community leaders on 6th July 2011. Having identified lack of access to land and agriculture services as a major challenge faced by Keembe youth, the group formed a youth cooperative to collectively lobby for better services.
In response to the meeting on 6th July, community leaders allocated a piece of land for youth agriculture. The group now receive a share of agricultural equipment such as bags, fertilizer and seed, which are shared among members. Through the youth cooperative, young people can now access farming equipment at a subsidised price.
The Camp Agriculture Committee (CAC) which regulates cooperatives in Keembe has acknowledged the new youth group and pledged its support. They are impressed by the young people’s initiative and have recognized a need for youth participation on the CAC itself. They plan to invite one of the youth cooperative members to sit on the CAC and participate in decisions affecting rural livelihoods in the wider Keembe area.
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