Chiadzwa Youth Network: Sharing the work of the Network in the realization of Environmental Child Rights


Compiled Loinah Nyabadza, Chiadzwa Youth Network Safeguarding Officer

13 October 2022

In our Environmental Child Rights programs, we interact with children, and it is our duty to make sure the children are safe. Firstly, I want to acknowledge the contribution of different stakeholders who have been supporting us in our Environmental Child Rights programs.  Local leaders, Councilors, Mining company representatives, just to mention a few. ZELA, we also want to thank you for all your support, the great work by Chiadzwa Youth Network we are sharing are a result of your work.

In 2009, Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) was formed. This was just after the discovery of diamonds in Marange. The objectives were to protect the communities from human rights violations, to carry out research, surveys and investigations including publishing the results.

From these objectives you can realize that CCDT was not directly involved in protecting youths and children living near mines. There existed evidence then and still is evidence of children’s environmental rights being violated by both formal and informal mining operations. Children walking long distances to school and some exposed to the dangers posed by the open pits.

Through our interaction with ZELA, they assisted us to form a Youth Network, Chiadzwa Youth Network. We have a Coordinator, a committee comprised of seven members and is gender balanced. We have a constitution and more than 300 members. We operate in four wards in ward 30 and 29 where mining is taking place and ward 24 and 25 where we are expecting the Stock Exchange listed ALROSA mining company to carry out its exploration.

Chiadzwa Youth Network seeks to provide tools and training opportunities that will empower children and youths; to organize youth for the promotion of environmental rights; and to provide a platform for youth action. This is all aimed at highlighting and sensitizing the causes of various problems affecting and hindering progress and development in marginalized communities.

Chiadzwa Youth Network participated in the Capacity Building Workshops where the Youth Network received trainings in Environmental Child Rights (ECR), Transformative Multi-Actor Dialogue to promote ECR in the mining sector; Multi-Actor Partnerships (MAPs) among other aspects of environmental governance. The youth learnt on the importance of collective action and the importance of stakeholder collaborations. The youths were also capacitated on the importance of community engagement and the minimum standards of participation of young people in environmental governance.  The Network also participated in the Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) Awareness: Towards a child rights approach to environmental protection. The training on LEAPs was meant to raise awareness among environmental sub-committee members, CBOs, youth, traditional leaders, and members of the community.

The Youth Network has also amplified the voices of youth impacted by the ECR violations resulting from mining, raising public awareness on the impacts of mining. Through the “Nothing for us without us campaign”, an ongoing campaign that started in November 2021 and is meant to increase the participation, promotion and protection of youth and children environmental rights, the Youth Network managed to raise awareness on the ECR issues among the community and the stakeholders. The campaign is also meant to advocate for a healthy and cleaner mining environment whilst encouraging collaborative actions with different stakeholders. The Youth Network believes that collaborative will bring the much-needed support in environmental child rights.

The Youth Network is holding engagement meetings with different stakeholders, for example, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the recent one on the 27th of September 2022; the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) on the 17th of August 2022; and the several engagement meetings with our traditional leaders and Councilors. The Youth Network managed to conduct clean up exercises including establishing five environmental clubs, three of which are registered with the EMA and two still in the process of registering. All this work is done through environmental community monitoring work, to date we have 18 environmental community monitors who investigate environmental child rights violations and are linked directly with ZELA the litigation unit.

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