In 2007, Southern Africa represented almost a third of all new HIV infections and AIDS deaths worldwide (UNAIDS). Despite young people being the most affected group, national responses being coordinated by National AIDS Authorities in the region often lack any significant youth-led strategies.
In 2009, Restless Development started a partnership with the SADC Secretariat, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), to increase and improve youth participation as part of National HIV and AIDS responses across the region.
Over 15 months, we engaged with SADC National AIDS Authorities in 10 member countries, assessing the level of youth engagement in existing strategies, sensitising them to the benefits of youth-led HIV/AIDS strategies and providing practical guidance and support in adopting youth-led approaches. In March 2010, we published “Youth Participation and Leadership, an effective tool in combating HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa” providing a foundation to build on for youth participation going forward.
At present we are in discussions with the SADC Secretariat to formalise a multi-year partnership to provide technical support to SADC member states to implement the recommendations of the Youth Participation and Leadership publication.