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Forum tackles youth challenges

Mimi Machakaire and Lijeng Ranooe

BACHA Re Bacha Youth Forum have identified teenage pregnancy, unemployment and drug abuse among young people as some of the key challenges that have to be tackled to ensure social and economic development in Lesotho.

This was revealed at the recent launch of the Youth Parliament which has hosted by Bacha in Leribe. The launch was attended by Communications Minister, Joang Molapo; Deputy Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Rethabile Marumo among other dignitaries.

Bacha Re Bacha Youth Forum (BRB) is a non-profit community-based youth development organisation which was established to transform communities through capacity building and empowerment in the thematic areas of youths and HIV/AIDS, governance and human rights and sustainable livelihoods.

The organisation is currently implementing the Youth Citizenship Participation programme in 13 constituencies in the Leribe District. The programme seeks to equip young people with advocacy and civic participation skills as well as identify key youth challenges to be addressed.

The programme commenced with the training of young people from different constituencies who then elect their own Youth Parliament representatives. The second phase was that of the district dialogue that was held on the 12 October 2017.

The third is the launch of the Youth Parliament where young people will be able to discuss challenges that require national attention and subsequently produce a youth parliament resolution document that will be sent to the cabinet.

Speaking at the event, Bacha Director, Innocent Dube, said it was important to have “have an amplified youth voice”.

“The youth needs to speak out about the issues that affect them and the youth parliament is a platform for them to have their views be addressed by the government.”

For his part, Mr Molapo, thanked Bacha for their “crucial work,” adding, “We all know that the youth are the future of this country”.

“I assure you that we want to uphold your vision and heed your grievances. It is your time. I encourage you to spread the message to youth about the importance of voting during elections.”

Ms Marumo echoed Mr Molapo’s sentiments and also called on the youth parliament to “raise your voices and stand up for your communities; push for change, take responsibility of your futures stay inspired”.

The youth parliament also urged government to implement strategies to fight against teenage pregnancies, to maintain recreational facilities in every district to help eradicate drug and substance abuse that militates against youth development.

The parliament noted that one in every five Basotho girls aged from 13 to 19 fall pregnant in Lesotho before completing their studies.

A student representative, Mangose Molai, said there was a need to deal with the challenge of unemployment, “Because unemployed youth have a tendency of turning to drugs as a coping mechanism”.

“We also want for teenage girls to understand that hope is not lost if one falls pregnant but most of all we want to eradicate these statistics from skyrocketing,” Ms Molai said.

Research from World Health Organisation, shows that more than 30 percent of girls in low and middle-income countries marry before they are 18. It further shows that 14 percent marry before they are 15.

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