Advocating for Better Youth-friendly Services for Young People
Imanet Fatumah 26, is a Youth Champion and Youth Empowerment Centre (YEC) leader for Malangala Sub County, Mityana District. She was trained by the Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU) under TeamUp program on key topics including leadership and governance, advocacy, family planning, HIV prevention and monitoring and reporting.
As a Youth Champion, Imanet actively engages with parents, stakeholders, community leaders, district leaders, and technical teams on issues affecting young people in her community which she notes has led to young people’s inclusion in local and district level decision making processes.
“We are included in the budget planning processes in the sectors of health, agriculture, and water. In all these forums, we engage, monitor and advocate for young people’s increased allocation in SRH, access to finance and safe and clean water,” Imanet said.
“My capacity as a Youth Champion has got stronger due to the trainings I continuously receive from Action 4 Health Uganda in advocacy (civic engagement), SRH, negotiations, Leadership, and Management,” Imanet said.
As a young person, Imanet knows too well the challenges young people go through to cope with life demands and encourages them to advance and demand for their rights.
“Being a Youth Champion has been a great opportunity for me to engage with other like-minded youth to discuss alongside the decision-makers (leaders) in the sectors on various health and socially related issues affecting young people across the country.”
Adding, “If we don’t stand up to raise issues concerning us as young people, who then will?” Imanet wondered.
Imanet also works to address myths and misconceptions about HIV, family planning services and sexually transmitted infections, and to be a voice for young people’s concerns. And because of this role, she notes that more and more young people are opening up to her and other peers to discuss and share issues affecting them.
“When young people in our area have a challenge, they now find confidence and comfort to open up to the YEC leaders or Youth Champions to help them,” Imanet Fatumah, says.
This community based approach is one of the ways that A4HU through the TeamUp program is helping bridge the information and support gap needed to empower young people to live with dignity.
TeamUp is a multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral program that works in the fields of Agriculture, Water and Health. It brings together three local implementing partner organisations namely; Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and Whave Solutions. These partners pool their expertise in their respective fields to holistically target 50,000 young people between the ages of 15 - 30 in a pilot being implemented in Mityana district in five sub-counties of Bulera, Bbanda, Malangala, Maanyi, and Kalangalo.
It seeks to provide "improved livelihood prospects for young people in rural East Africa" by improving their access to safe fully functional water services, sanitation, safe hygiene practices, gender friendly sexual and reproductive health, enhanced entrepreneurial and technical skills, financial services, resources and markets. The services offered are diverse and interwoven ensuring that young recipients benefit optimally, become self-determined and in the long run take conscious decisions about leading a healthy and self-determined life, improve their economic situation and make their voices heard.
It was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is managed as well as co-financed through three foundations; Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevolkerung (DSW), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and Siemens Stiftung.