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Environmental Child rights campaign in Manicaland reflects sustainable transformation

Compiled by Sandra Musonzah

12 November 2021

The global month of November (GAM) started on a high note and saw ZELA and its regional representatives of its partner TDH   visiting the Diamond area on 5th November 2021 to interact with children, activists and youth environmental clubs to learn,  share and exchange best practices on the implementation of the multi actors partner approach  (MAPs) towards attainment of environmental child rights in mining communities. Firstly, the existence of children, youth environmental clubs (YEC) and environment activist is a commendable act. For a long time, in my community there was certainly no organized youth voice with shared goal to change the narrative of environmental child rights violations. The effective engagement of children as key stakeholders during implementation ensures that their views are taken into account. The YEC dialogue included young people from various youth Networks sharing experience. Present was Chiadzwa Community Development (CCDT)Trust Youth Network, ZIDAWU Youth Forum, Marange Development Trust Youth Network (MDT), Hotsprings Youth Network and St Andrews’ Primary School / Secondary Environmental Club all taking action for the realization of a right to a clean safe environment for children and young people.

The dialogue exchange experience showed that Chiadzwa Community Development Trust Youth Network recognized the importance of a multi actor’s partner approach as they managed to engage and established a working relationship with traditional leaders in Chiadzwa-Marange, a step towards influencing decision makers to recognize children concerns when it comes to ECR. The youth network managed to contribute in the mitigation of impacts of mining activities through a project of replantation of trees and seedlings in partnership with Environment Management Agency in schools, wards and they managed to raise awareness on ECR for children in school and out of school and went on to  establish sound environment clubs at ward level.

To add, ZIDAWU Youth Network highlighted that through MAPs they have participated in radio dialogues (Diamond FM) to capacitate children and people on what MAPs is, ECR and the importance of a right to a clean environment. The network made use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp dialogue to capacitate children and advocate for a right to a clean environment through skits, drama, Questions/Answer discussions and trainings. Monitoring site to document ECR violation in the community as well as engaged  with  EMA , local leadership to engage and come up with sustainable solutions. The network resorted to educational awareness through clean up campaigns in Arda Transau Clinic, School and Business centres in partnership with ZELA youth network. During the #MyPlanetMyRights campaign the youths distributed ECR reading materials and solicitated for signatures to the petition. The youth Network like CCDT network established environmental youth clubs at ward level and now have a legal stop center to offer advice and support to victims of sexual abuse, which is rampant in mining communities. To add, they also managed to host a “train the trainer” workshop to capacitate Diamond Youth environmental clubs’ leaders on petition writing and advocacy work to enable YEC to legally petition on any environmental violation.

The youth club was amongst the youth Network which attended the national Zimbabwe Mining Alternative Indaba to discuss on a high-level panel environmental child rights and effects of extractives through a child rights perspective in Zimbabwe. The dialogue exchange was a success as the youth who attended managed to come up with sound declaration. Some takeaways include; declaration on the amendment of the Environment Management Agency Act to speak on youth participation in critical influential dialogues, and the ZAMI 2021youth declared that Corporate Social Responsibility must have a specific budget  for youths projects in mining communities. To our education system the youth declared that Environmental Child Rights in the extractives sector must be included in Zimbabwe’s education curriculum.

The youth Network in the Diamond sector of Zimbabwe are thriving towards influencing decision making including recognition of child rights, and their actions towards meaningful engagement strategies have brought about positive change as now we are witnessing working relationship between traditional leaders’ owners of the land and young people’s concerns and views being taken into account. Environmental clubs have shown that young people are important stakeholder and capable of driving the change they want to see in their community and the environment.

Environmental rights wall prepared by members of St Andrews Primary School E-club

Some members of the youth network, ZELA officials and community members who attended the meeting

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