Asikhulume is a youth-led social accountability programme based on three pillars: the right to access to health; the right to education; and lastly the right to social protection. The youth champions in Change Ward, Hwange district, have come up with their own initiative to support their advocacy work for schools and hospitals to be built, as local people are walking long distances to access these services. As youth champions, they have come together to resolve these issues within their ward and built a fowl run with 26 chickens, each contributed by a youth champion.
Youth Champions showcasing their poultry project
The poultry project is unique in that, not only is it providing a source of income for the youth champions, but they are using feeding times as a platform to meet and conduct their meetings and discuss issues affecting the community. Some of the proceeds will be used to help assist orphans and vulnerable children in the area by providing school stationery such as books and pens, shoes for those who walk long distances barefoot, and even bus fare for youth champions who come from hard-to-reach areas. The poultry farm is also keeping the youth champions motivated, as without it, some dropped out of the social accountability programme. The land was provided by the local headman, who is enthusiastic about the project.
“As Asikhulume champions we have realised that a platform like this will make youths come together and really ‘khuluma’ issues affecting the community. This project was put together for that reason,” said one of the youth champions Ephraim Ncube.
Mobilising youths had been a challenge because of lack incentives but the poultry farm project is motivating them. When asked by Ngoni Chibukire, SAfAIDS Sub-Regional Head, how the poultry farm has transformed the lives of the youth champions, Ephraim responded: “As we are talking about rights under the social protection pillar, there are sky rocketing issues of unemployment in the country as a whole. In coming up with this project, we are empowering ourselves and generating income, even in these harsh economic conditions.”
The future is bright for the youth champions of Change Ward. They have plans to scale up by enlarging the fowl run and venturing into much bigger projects like pig farming. The local leadership is in full support of the Asikhulume programme and the village headman has promised to provide more space when the poultry farm expands.
SAfAIDS applauds the efforts the youth champions have made in coming up with this innovation in seeing a need and taking action. Rights come with responsibilities, and they are taking measures to effect change in their communities. Kudos to the youth champions in Change Ward!