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In an interactive and participant-centered one-day training the young leaders were trained to understand contemporary development challenges. The project was aimed at providing the leaders with practical skills in effective mobilization, advocacy and the understanding of political economy dynamics. Since the youth constitutes half of the voting population and since their voices still have been drowned in political outcomes, addressing specifically young political leaders is of great significance.
Ayub Kiranda, the programme manager at the University Forum on Governance, started the first session by giving an introduction on the topic of economy analysis. He explained that economy analysis provides an understanding of the relationship between politics and economics and of the actors, interests and resources which must be taken into consideration. Donnas Ojok, the programme manager of KAS, emphasized that economy analysis contains not only economic interests but above all most importantly power dynamics by the various stakeholders involved. After all economy analysis is a tool of great significance since it enables young leaders to understand how to engage and mobilize stakeholders and how to use power and resources for advantage.
The next topic dealt with was civic engagement. Selected volunteers actively shared their own experience in this field, as well as their success and changes in society they already achieved. For a deeper understanding Michael Ojok from Advance Afrika discussed together with the 25 participants the concept of civil engagement, the highly importance for the community development and the challenges we are facing regarding this topic. Citizens who are taking social media to make their voices heard but in the end not translating it into meaningful thoughts, is just one challenge civic engagement is facing nowadays. Finally the participants concluded that everyone just has to take an active role, "it is most important to get out of your comfort zone and find out what exactly one can do to engage."
Advocacy and lobbying were discussed with the participants in the last place. Donnas Ojok, the facilitator of this session, described advocacy as one of the most important tools citizens have, to participate in governance. It is an effective device for influencing and shaping public aims at bringing empowerment and positive change. Advocacy can occur in various forms - think tanks and research were named as key terms. To make advocacy work, the striking emphasis was on the need of an advocacy strategy which has to contain four components: identifying and defining the problem, the actors, the approaches and finally the solution and the purpose. To apply the just gained knowledge the participants got the task to create an advocacy plan. Each group had to think of a problem which affects the majority of the population and to create an appropriate solution. The participants came up with strategies dealing with the issues of street children and garbage collection.
At the end of the day the participants had to interpret and discuss the poem “Apolitical Intellectuals” by Otto Rene Castillo. The poem describes the phenomenon of intellectuals who choose not to participate in politics in their communities. The poem was read to make the young leaders reflect on the importance to participate and on how individual actions can provoke significant societal change in our communities.
Overall the young leaders were highly enthusiastic about the training day and the knowledge and skills they gained for their political leadership careers.
Written by Eva Wandinger