Our programs on advocacy and environment aims at empowering citizens through civic education and training, to help young people know their position, rights and duties in society and how to hold duty bearers accountable. As members of community, we have a responsibility to take care of our surroundings and bring the change we want to see to our towns and villages. By giving youths arenas to express their citizenship in workshops, meetings, clubs, campaigns, plays and sport groups, we hope to equip the young generation with skills and confidence to be active participants of society for the present and future.
One particular concern in our advocacy programs is climate justice. Tanga region has seen a lot of changes the last years due to climate change. Our trees are disappearing, there is problem of water, and our towns are contaminated by garbage. By increasing awareness among community members about causes and consequences of these phenomenons, and provide climate friendly solutions, we hope citizens will take action to make their surroundings a cleaner place. We can blame our politicians, but the real change has to start with our self firs.
Our Advocacy program mainly has three activities: Subject to citizen (S2C) aimed at children and youth in their teens, Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) aimed at young adults from 18+ years, and activities dealing with environmental conservation, like three planting and environmental clubs in schools. We also sometimes conduct breakfast meetings, which involves duty bearers and right holders to discuss a given topic chosen by the community.
Students from Ubiri Secondary school demonstrating school dropout and early marriage as an environmental issue.
- Subjects to Citizens
S2C is a program launched by the African alliance of YMCA. Noticing that many young Africans were excluded from decision making processes and misused by politicians boosting their own agenda, the African alliance raised the issue of how to turn “subjects” into “citizens”.
A subject is someone who doesn’t know his or her position in society. Someone who blindly follows the stream and don’t have the necessary knowledge or skills to stake out his or her own course in life. The subject is rendered voiceless and invisible by community. They are therefore easily misguided by false promises from politicians using youths as steppingstones to higher political goals.
A citizen is someone who knows his or her position in society and are able to hold his or her leaders accountable. The citizen doesn’t follow command blindly, but ask for what purpose an activity is undertaken and who it will benefit. By empowering the subject, he or she can become an enlightened citizen who are able to claim his or her rights and participate fully in societal live. YPM intend to turn subjects into citizens. We do this through educating youth in clubs in schools, arranging workshops and debates, and activities like tensing and sport groups.
- Public Expenditure Tracking System
PETS is a shortening for Public Expenditure Tracking System. The program aims at educating members of civil society to make follow up on public resources and money and hold duty bearers accountable. By tracking income from taxes and asking how this money is spent, possible misuse may be discovered and better solutions found on how to use the resources in a way benefiting the many rather than the few.
PETS is quite challenging work. There is little tradition in Tanzania for questioning government officials, and politicians may therefore see PETS ambassadors as potential troublemakers challenging their authority and quality of work. The meaning of PETS is however not to bring disharmony to communities, but to increase efficiency in government programs by making sure resources are transferred where they are supposed to. A transparent government is a healthy government. Once misunderstandings about the program has been cleared up, we believe duty bearers will come to see the benefits of PETS as a tool to ease the governing process.
The key to successful PETS is to stand together. Few people are easy to ignore, a whole village is more difficult. By training young people, YPM hopes to make PETS a community movement, making our communities more transparent. Good governance is a key ingredient to create positive development.