Youth in Falun and Tsumeb make their voices heard

“A large share of the population is comprised by youth and they are also the ones that will create and carry our future society”

These words are Karin Perérs’s, project coordinator for the partnership between Falun in Sweden and Tsumeb Municipality in Namibia. The partnership started ten years ago and has since its inception yielded several successes within the areas of education, waste management, and city planning. The last project, “Participation and voice implementation” which finalized in the Spring of 2019, focused on youth influence and inclusion in local democracy, tackling mutual issues of youth exclusion from the society.

The importance of youth and making the voices heard guided the objective of the project: to encourage the participation and voices of young people, allowing them to contribute to the society they live in. Karin Perérs happily tell us about the achieved results: “They have realized that their voices matter, that they as a group have influence. They have realized how to collaborate to achieve their goals, and when they do, they do it successfully with great impact!”

Tsumeb benefitted greatly by the introduction of LUPP, a common tool in Sweden used to evaluate local youth’s life situations. In practice, LUPP is a survey tool utilized to increase organizations awareness of the situation, experiences and views of young people, which forms a basis for decision-making processes. In addition to learning the method, first survey was conducted in Tsumeb in 2018. The results of LUPP are namely used also to measure the effects of the other efforts made during the partnership, and in Falun the results have already shown some increase in youth influence.

In Tsumeb, various youth networks and forums have been established to strengthen collaboration and coordination. These forums have fostered important discussions between youth and adults in the municipalities on the topics of abuse, gender equality, pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. In addition, both physical and virtual meeting places have been created, for example, a group named “Born Free Group” which in collaboration with Tsumeb Municipality, has constructed a Youth Park, where youth can meet for various activities and discussions. This Youth Park has, in turn, inspired Falun to establish something similar, directed at unemployed youth and career counseling.

Youth from Falun and Tsumeb were also given the opportunity to participate in a youth exchange. “In addition to giving them skills and experiences that they carry with them for the rest of their lives, we saw that the opportunity allowed many of the youth to advance in life. Some of them have now found employment or are undertaking education.