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The old adage, ‘nothing for us, without us’ remains true for young people in Hopley, a community on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

The setting up of a Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) in the community, a first of its kind, with support from UNFPA has set the tone for tangible economic development in the community by linking young people to development partners while at the same time ensuring that developing partners are responding to critical issues affecting young people in the community.


“I like that YAP provides us with platforms to share ideas on how to advocate for our fellow youths,” says 21 year Anesu Mbavarira. “As youths we are labelled and there are many stereotypes associated with our age. As YAP we want to change the generalized narrative around youths. We want to show our community that we can engage in development and can be progressive as youth.” 


With the support of UNFPA under the Safeguard Young People programme, Plan International Zimbabwe, in collaboration with Youth Ensemble, City of Harare and the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation are implementing the Integrated Youth Economic Empowerment and Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Initiative project. It is under this project that 13 active young people (18 to 24 years old) have been identified and selected to be a part of the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP). The advisory panel is a youth- led panel set in order to involve young people in programming processes and creating opportunities for young people to advocate and participate in local and national processes that affect them.


The Youth Advisory Panel was established to provide strategic advice to UNFPA and partners such as Plan International that are contributing to youth economic empowerment and other projects in support of young people in the community. This is achieved through providing information to other young people on essential services that are provided in the community especially at the Tariro Youth Centre and Clinic in Hopley. These services include opportunities for youth economic empowerment such as trainings on financial literacy, linking young people with financial service providers as well as access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and services that are provided at the youth centre and clinic.


“I am so proud to be part of YAP. My wish was for young people to be involved in the development of the Hopley community and now I am happy that we as young people are involved,” says 22 year old Aurthor Dunha. “We are now being consulted, our ideas are being taken on board showing that our voices matter. I was happy to be part of the Council consultative meeting and shared my view of issues which affect the youths and how they want to be involved in our community development”. 


In Zimbabwe, young people below the age of 25 make up at least 62% of the country’s population, a huge figure that government and development partners cannot ignore as they create programs and projects aimed at improving the lives of young people. With the Youth Advisory Panel in place, Plan International and its partners through the support of the government of Switzerland are in the right direction in ensuring that young people are involved in all processes that affect them.