TSHOLOTSHO YOUTH HUB, ARTICLE BY…
Founder & CEO
Tsholotsho Youth Hub
Tsholotsho Youth Hub (TYH), is a non-governmental, free from political, clans, religion, race and ethnic divisions, works with thousands of youths from Tsholotsho, Western part of Zimbabwe. The organization was founded in 2019 by Zibusiso Sibanda in response to the continuous widening of the gap between rural and urbanization which is reflected by the gross collapse in their state of living. TYH strives to create a future where Tsholotsho youths are able to facilitate their own development. Tsholotsho Youth Hub encourages and strengthens collective social, economic, cultural, and environmental, peace and technological initiatives developed by youth themselves.
TYH strives to remove obstacles to youth empowerment so that they have sustainable livelihoods and successful living standards. Tsholotsho Youth Hub, an all youth inclusive organization, is based in the center of the largest youth community Matabeleland and is entirely staffed by youth members, aiming to assist marginalized and disenfranchised youth, to help them create and sustain income generating, lead a healthy life, access the benefits of network and internet and have a better understanding of their rights as citizens. Unlike most organizations working with youths, TYH enables youths to come up with their own solutions in open forums, engage and participate rather than dictating them what to do. TYH strives to remove obstacles to youth empowerment so that they have sustainable livelihoods and successful living standards.
Tsholotsho is a small town located south west of Zimbabwe and 98 kilometers away from the Bulawayo City. Tsholotsho district is made up of 22 Wards and comprised of Ndebele, Abathwa, and Kalanga tribes. Tsholotsho was selected as an area of intervention due to lack of an integrated water and sanitation, poor water and sanitation coverage and the high level of pump failure on boreholes. Many communities in the district are living with flood risk and vulnerability as they live in flood-prone areas along the Gwayi, Zombani and Manzamnyama rivers, while others have settlements situated in floodplains and low-lying areas. The common types of shelter in the district are traditional huts constructed from mud, pole and thatch. The infrastructure consists of many gravel roads, and one tarred road linking the district with Lupane district and Bulawayo. There are also bridges, dams, school buildings, church buildings and business premises. Although the district is categorized as a dry area and lies in the ecological zone of Region 5, high levels of flooding have been experienced of late owing to climate variability and increased rainfall.
The most area affect with poverty lies in a latitude ranging between 1D9° 46’SS.20’S and longitude in 27°46’8.40’E north of Tsholotsho district.
Thus the Hub seeks to provide a critical window for the relevant government stakeholders and the private sector to reverse digital inequality, including closing the digital youth and gender gap. Internet access is a critical determinant of individuals’ human and social capital and earning power and ignoring this gap will further entrench inequalities. Tsholotsho Youth Hub seeks to provide measurable social and economic value for youths in rural Tsholotsho by designing, delivering and sustaining consistent positive influence and information that result in large scale measurable social and behavior change among TYH target audience alongside research insights that can help the world better serve the young people in rural areas. All our activities are grounded in the insights and findings produced by rigorous research, which rely on a creative use of traditional and innovative tools and approaches to identify and address key barriers, motivators and stimuli that hinder or facilitate positive social change.
TYH’s digital approach background.
Internet access offers a powerful avenue for people around the world to assert their rights and to claim social, economic and political opportunities for empowerment. Yet, half the world’s population remains offline, most of them being women and youth. Young people’s equal access to new technologies and their meaningful participation on and through the web is a critical component of enhancing engagement, participation and equality in a digital world. Access to the internet, in particular, can support youth and in particular young women to have a voice in spaces where this was previously denied, challenge gender norms, use information, participate in political and associational networks, and increase their economic independence. However, the distribution of the benefits of digital technologies remains uneven, with women and youth in peri-urban and rural areas less likely to have access to the internet, and less likely to use the web for political and economic empowerment. The digital gap means that some youths in Tsholotsho and young women in particular are cut off from important information and opportunities, and are also less able to participate fully in public and civic life.
The overall focus of the TYH strategy through our digital channel is to serve as a multi- channel platform for young people aged 15-35 in all 22 wards of Tsholotsho to form communities, where they can discuss pressing issues that affect their daily lives, and where new role models, choices and ways of being can be explored. This is significant because youths are the largest cohort in history and as the most significant potential agent of change in their communities.
Early Child Marriage and Gender Equality
Child marriage in Africa often ends a girl’s education, exposes her to domestic violence and grave health risks from early childbearing and HIV, and traps her in poverty. Zimbabwe’s government is a member of the African Union Girls’ Summit on Ending Child Marriage and has pledged to set and enforce 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage. In a 2014 survey by Zimbabwe’s National Statistics Agency, one in three women ages 20 to 49 surveyed reported that they married before age 18; an estimated 4 percent marry before age 15, the survey found. Since most child marriages are unregistered customary law unions, the survey is the best indicator of the scale of the problem in Zimbabwe, with Tsholotsho being one of the districts heavily attacked by it.effects of child marriage, emphasizing the health risks of early pregnancy and HIV transmission and the benefits of girls’ education.
Education is a major priority in the development of young men and women, not simply because young people are often connected to the education system, but because it is through education that young women and men can be better prepared for life. The personal development of the individual young person, along with the development of local communities and the country as a whole is inextricably linked to the provision of quality, relevant and well-managed education system. The Republican Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the right to education for all its citizens. Further, the National Youth Policy recognizes and draws from the provision of the Ministry of Education Policy.
important ingredient towards economic growth and development that would help in poverty reduction. Thus, any district ignoring this and failing to invest in the education of its young person’s cannot be serious about regional development and poverty reduction. Among many other, TYH therefore advocates for Compulsory free Primary Education especially for girls and to make sure access to secondary, tertiary education is promoted.
A lot of challenges still remain and militate against the promotion of universal education as well as pupil/student retention in school. For instance, the ratio of females to males in the lower primary school grades (1 to 3) is nearly 50:50. However, from grades 4 to 8 16 the ratio begins to drop so much so that in secondary school the male: female ratio is estimated at 72:28 while in university it is estimated to be 74:26. There is therefore, need to lobby for a law that provides for mandatory attendance of primary school education in Tsholotsho.
Youth Participation and Leadership
It is common knowledge that youths are energetic, strong, industrious, innovative and healthy and constitute a significant proportion of the country’s population. To ensure that issues affecting the youths and other target groups are adequately addressed, it is imperative that the youth themselves do not only actively participate in the key decision making processes but that they are also given leadership roles. This would ensure that the decisions made and programmes designed are in the final analysis reflective of the needs of the youth as seen from the perspective of the youth themselves. However empirical evidence shows that youth are not often included in important decision making bodies.
they have not been actively and meaningfully involved in decision making and interventions about issues which affect them as a target group and the nation as whole. In this connection, the youth are unable to visibly contribute to national development. The Youth Hub shall ensure that An enabling environment is created for the establishment of youth structures such as youth clubs, youth organizations, youth networks, youth centers and youth parliament to facilitate meaningful youth participation.
When one looks at district development plans it is noted that youth issues are usually not featured prominently and hence are not included among the priorities of the districts. Marginalization and discrimination therefore become issues among many affecting youth development. Traditionally, youth are expected to be passive recipients of services from adults and institutions.
Youth Economic Empowerment
Studies have shown that the formal employment sector is unable to absorb all employable young people in Zimbabwe. Unemployment among the youth has worsened over the last 20 years. Increasingly, the youth in Tsholotsho are completing their education with very little prospect of securing a job, or engaging in entrepreneurial activities, in particular in rural areas where underemployment and poverty is more prominent.
youth can be easily recruited as political thugs ready to eliminate their sponsor’s opponents at the flimsiest excuse. This therefore calls for the need to create more economic empowerment avenues for the youth, namely creating more employment opportunities, first and foremost in the formal sector; improving the environment in the informal sector to promote growth and graduation of informal sector enterprises into the formal sector; and promoting youth entrepreneurship for self- employment. The agriculture sector with its diverse value chains offers particularly high opportunities for job creation compared to other sectors of the economy.
Due to lack of experience, very few employers are willing to recruit and train them on the job. The main contributing factor to the issues of unemployment and poverty among the youth is lack of employable skills resulting from very few skills training centers available in the country. Although there are no precise unemployment figures on the youth currently, there can be no denying that the ever growing number of jobless youth and the accompanying desperation makes youth unemployment to be both a political, security and socio-economic issue. Untrained and jobless.
Sports, Recreation and Culture Celebrations
Physical Education, Sports, Cultural activities and recreation are important to the total wellbeing of young people. Young people have physical needs that include general body fitness that can partly be attained through physical exercises. Socially and culturally, young people grow up and develop within a society or community and family that have various beliefs, customs, and norms and practices that impact on their lives. In this regard, relationships that exist between the young person and the family, community, school and peers etc should be taken into consideration when coming up with programs for young people. Social needs for young people also include recreational, cultural and sporting activities.
assessment shows that there is a serious inadequacy for these structures. Where these are available, they are either in a dilapidated state or are largely inaccessible by the youth. This therefore militates against expressed policy of mass participation in sports, recreation and cultural activities.
Facilities that provide recreation, cultural and sporting activities help to keep young people busy and occupied hence they can hardly find idle time to engage in risky behaviors that would predispose them to HIV infection, crime and other social ills.