Strängnäs municipality in Sweden has for a long time been involved in municipal partnerships on the theme of youth influence with various partners in Tanzania. The municipality is now re-establishing the partnership with the Maasai village Embooret, thanks to a grant from ICLD.
In the district of Simanjiro in northern Tanzania, you find the Maasai village of Emboreet, a village with whom Strängnäs municipality had a municipal partnership between the years 2006-2016. At that time, a student council was established in the village’s primary school, which is well-functioning to this day. Several improvements have been made at the school since then, as solar cells have been installed, among other things. Nearby is a secondary school, which has a climate club during school hours. In the village, there is also a strong group of women who work for social sustainability.
– Through our re-established partnership, we now want to work to strengthen women’s commitment and, in collaboration with students’ ideas, create an improvement in terms of the environment in the village, says Helena Edvinsson who is a commissioner for the rights of children (barnombudsman) in Strängnäs municipality and project manager in the partnership with Emboreet.
Strängnäs sees an opportunity for its own municipality to, with the help of the partnership, create a meeting place in the central town where the municipality can utilize the knowledge from the cooperation between the women’s group and the students of the two schools, to get a municipal meeting place that becomes accessible to all.
– Right now, we are formulating which local democratic challenge our common partnership will work for. It leans towards improved social sustainability in combination with the need to develop meeting places, says Helena Edvinsson
Direct answers in Maasai village
Helena also talks about lessons learned from their previous partnership with the Maasai village that still helps them today. Among other things, how their meetings between children and decision-makers have become simpler, clearer and more efficient.
Strängnäs have for several years held a children’s and youth congress, where politicians held morning sessions to give children answers to their questions on various topics. It was a nice event, but many questions would still be unanswered after the end of the day. The answer could be “I will forward the question” from politicians who received questions that did not concern their area of responsibility. On the other hand – in the Maasai village – the whole village gathered to answer the children’s questions. No one “forwarded the question” because all responsible politicians were present. The children simply received an answer immediately! With that richer experience, Strängnäs municipality changed the structure and ended the children and youth congress. Instead, theme meetings are held today where all those responsible are present. The children get an answer immediately!
The ICLD wishes them both good luck and looks forward to following their democracy journey!