The following is an excerpt from an article featured by the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP) Africa. Read the full article HERE.
#VijanaNaAmani255: youth lead the charge toward safer societies in southern Tanzania
An innovative youth-led peacebuilding project in the southern borderlands of Tanzania is mobilizing residents to participate in peacebuilding activities in their communities. #VijanaNaAmani255, which translates to “youth and peace” in Kiswahili, was launched in 2022 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Peace Foundation.
#VijanaNaAmani255 is building a cadre of young people who support the creation of resilient communities by promoting the notion that individuals can be agents of change, no matter their age.
In the country’s southern most regions, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma, extreme poverty and gaps in the education sector have led to high rates of school dropouts. The economic environment is challenging, marked by a lack of information about available opportunities for young people. These challenges combined with other vulnerabilities have created a breeding ground for extremist groups to influence and recruit young people.
The project rationale understood that more frequent instances of hostility contribute to fueling even more fear and insecurity. Moving beyond reacting to extremism and concentrating on prevention measures instead, allows communities, through the project, to address the drivers of violent extremism. This approach has been promoted globally by the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism.
Joseph Brighton Malekela, the Coordinator of #VijanaNaAmani255, is a passionate youth worker and a UN-trained Youth Champion of Sustainable Development Goals in Tanzania. “To date, the project has impacted 148 leaders of local government authorities, 150 youth representatives from influential community groups, 1,526 students in schools and colleges, 60 religious leaders, 30 cultural leaders, 20 parents and 20 caregivers. We have also reached over 10 million indirect beneficiaries through an online campaign,” Malekela adds.