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EAC Youth Task Governments to Take SDGs to Rural Citizens

by Dan Ngabonziza
5:17 pm

EAC youth forum that concluded Nov 22,2018 in Arusha, Tanzania

The United Nations is doing less to disseminate the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), youth leaders in East African Community say.

By 2030, African countries have to work towards attaining 17 global goals such as eradicating extreme poverty, end hunger, energy for all, inclusive sustainable growth- among other goals which were carried on from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that ended in 2015.

Rwanda is host to the SDGs Center for Africa – established to facilitate coordination and advocacy and to help building capacity to implement the SDGs.

Three years since the global goals were launched, however, youth leaders from across six EAC member states say the goals are yet to be even known by leaders themselves.

At a youth forum organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – a Germany Development Agency and East African Community Secretariat in Arusha –Tanzania, the youth expressed concern that SDGs are not known in rural areas.

“The UN and African leaders need to breakdown these SDGs in layman’s language. How will ordinary citizens understand them?

If members of parliament in the EAC don’t even know much about SDGs, how easily are we going to localise them?We need to break them down for locals,” Robert Musana – a youth leader from Uganda said.

On the other hand, according to Clementine Ishimirwe Umuhire from Rwanda, leaders in the region need to fully implement SDGs without leaving anyone behind.

For instance, she said, the people with disabilities are particularly left behind.

At a topic on Youth and Agenda 2030: Framework and opportunities for national and Regional Youth Participation in SDGs, participants said that the UN should always engage the youth in decision making on several projects.

Alvaro Rodriquez – United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP representative in the United Republic of Tanzania, admitted that breaking down SDGs remains a challenge.

She however, said: “There is still enough time to bring them down to citizens.”

According to Dr. Kirsten Focken, GIZ programme Manager, leaders have an opportunity to make a difference and transform East Africa into an industrial upper income region through improving the key determinant of the region’s competitiveness which is its human talent; the skills, knowledge and experience of its youth.

He however, added that the youth movement has failed to have a bigger impact on EAC integration process mainly because of a lack of an organized structure that can collect their views and opinions regularly, lack of a self-financing model for its activities and weak leadership succession plan.

“Ending extreme poverty by 2030 and raising the general standards of living in East Africa requires a stronger youth voice and participation in EAC processes,” he said.

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