By Josphat Makaza-(Chiadzwa
Community Development Trust)
problem is, we are being left out where we are wanted most, they do not want us
to participate and had never consulted us on decisions that affect our lives.
The right of communities to participate and benefit from the extraction of
minerals in resource rich areas must not be infringed or denied on the basis of
being youths. There is urgent need to improve access to information by mining
companies and the government must create a good learning environment for youths
and children in Marange and Hotsprings. These utterances were made at a Youths
Environmental Impact Assessment and human rights training workshops held at
Hotsprings, Chimanimani on the 9th and 10th of October 2019.
meeting which was organized by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).
The youths training program was meant to strengthen grassroots youths and to empower
them with strong evidence to approach duty bearers in the quest to demand their
environmental, social, economic and cultural rights.
The training also the capacitation of youths including
capacitating them on how they can participate during the Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) process and their significance in involving themselves in the
monitoring process after the EIA has been approved by EMA.
Legal Officer, Josephine Chiname told participants that it is essential for
youths to participate in all stages of the EIA, “they need to find a way to get
involved, to ensure the EIA includes accurate information that adequately
reflects environmental concerns of youths and children”.
Chiname emphasized that the youths through the
provision of the Constitution and the Environmental Management Act can also access
the EIA document and any information from mining companies and the government.
participants ZELA’s Programs Intern, Fadzai Midzi said youths are not only
sidelined in EIAs only but during stakeholder engagement also. “It is rare”,
she said, “to find youths or even a youth representative in focus group
discussions and in engagement meetings”.
The youths proposed to launch a campaign that
is meant to elevate their voices and to tell their never told stories and
struggles in the mining areas.
Masibhera a youth from Marange ward 18 said by attending the training, she can
now stand against the violations of environmental rights and had expressed need
to impart EIA information to other youths. She also said as youths they need
information and skills for their transformation.
youths however expressed concern over the failure by the government to provide
them with a school following the relocation of Chirasika Primary School. The
youths said this has resulted in school dropouts and other children walking ten
kilometers to school.
ZELA’Senior Programs Officer, Nyaradzo
Mutonhori said ZELA will continue developing and setting guides that set
guidelines for strengthening youth’s involvement in development. This is one of ZELA’series of youth
engagement meetings. The inaugural one was hosted in Harare running under the
theme, Towards A Children and Youths Based Environmental Justice whose
conversation ran under the hashtag #OURENVIRONMENTOURLIFE.