By Julius Odeke
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has thrown its full support behind the youth given their relevance in the integration dispensation. Consequently, the Assembly shall buttress the formation of an EAC Youth Council and the sustained campaigns to sensitise youth on integration issues by the various stakeholders.
The recommendations emanate from a meeting between EALA and representatives of the Africa Youth Trust (AYT), held in Bujumbura, Burundi, as the plenary session got underway.
AYT is implementing the Mashariki Youth project which aims at promoting youth engagement to ensure their sustainable participation in integration. The objective of the project is to build the capacity of the youth to champion their involvement in the region. The one year project further seeks to influence policy and to strengthen youth structures by holding country level roundtables with the policy makers in respective Partner States.
In his remarks, Martin Nduwimana, Chairperson of the Committee on General Purpose reiterated that EALA was committed to promoting matters concerning youth and that it was imperative for Partner States to provide more opportunities to the stakeholder group. He urged the AYT to get the buy-in of key stakeholders in the respective Partner States.
Various EALA Members on the Committee pledged to make follow-up on the progress thereof by putting questions to the EAC Council of Ministers. At the same time, EALA plans to introduce a Resolution on the floor of the House urging Partner States that are yet to set up National Youth Councils to do so and to fast track the process with a view to harmonisation of laws.
The Executive Director of AYT, Nahum Okwiya maintained that EALA’s support for youth initiatives was fundamental.
The meeting revealed that the EAC was at an advanced stage with regard to formulation of the Youth Policy. The final draft of the EAC Youth Policy which has been in the works for close to two years was presented to the Sectoral Council on Gender, Youth, Children, Social Protection and Community Development held in Arusha, Tanzania last year.
The Sectoral Council thus directed the EAC Secretariat to hire a policy expert to finalise the draft and to circulate the same to Partner States for consultations.
Okwiya says the Policy is reflective of the national youth policies of the Partner States as well as the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. And that it focuses on a number of priority strategic areas including sustainable livelihoods and youth employment, education and skills development and health. Other areas include culture, poverty eradication, gender dimensions and peace and security.