With funding from United Nation Democracy Fund (UNDEF),the Malawi Human Rights Youth has intensified community based sensitization campaigns on youth participation in local governance in Malawi. From November 2015 to January 2016 MHRYN affiliate youth NGOs in Mchinji, Mzuzu, Rumphi, Nkhatabay, Kasungu, Chiradzulu, Dedza and Mulanje districts have been organizing road shows targeting youth and community members sensitizing them on the avenues of youth participation in local governance. The sensitization campaigns are using different methodologies including Drama performances, Songs, Dances, Choirs, Poetry, Question and answer sessions.
Sensitization campaigns take participatory approach to avail opportunities to youth and entire audience to take part through asking local governance and youth development questions. Councilors and youth NGO leaders respond to the questions posed by the youth and the audience. Among some topical issues tackled during sensitization campaigns are the five advocacy issues prioritized by youth organizations during consultative meeting at the project initial stage as follows; 1. Youth Economic Empowerment, 2. Avenues of youth participation in local governance,3. Gender Justice in local development structures, 4. Education and, 5. Access to health by young people in rural communities.
Road shows in seven districts reached to approximately four thousand and eight hundred people (male and female) of which 75% were youth (below 24 years). Evaluation of the road shows revealed that there is still limited information on right to development among young people and that much as the project has made a significant progress in empowering youth to take part in local governance structures, the change is still gradual. Is has been noted that the project has also managed to bridge the gap between youth and elected officials particularly ward councilors.