Information Empowers Young People

March 9, 2015

Kariba, Zimbabwe – A pioneering project in Kariba, a small town located approximately 365 kilometres northwest of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, is  seeking to enhance young peoples’ innovative and creative potential through expanding access to diverse sources of information.

Young people, who make up nearly 60 per cent of the town’s 26,000 strong population, face uncertainty and insecurity about prospects for education, employment and income. Many  migrate to the capital city in search of better opportunities, engage in self-destructive behaviours or face the prospect of early marriage.

But the innovative project run by Patsaka Trust, a non-governmental organisation based in Kariba, is seeking to buck the trend by channelling young people’s energies so that they can fulfil their human potential. Founded in 2006, Patsaka is implementing the project titled: “Promoting Access to Information and Diversity” aimed at increasing youth’s knowledge so they can lead healthier and more productive lives.

“Our story as Kariba has not been told so we want to generate content that energises young people and provides them with an opportunity to touch the world. The idea is to unpack Kariba. Access to information is the motivating factor. The internet is providing us with an opportunity to tell our story to the world,” said John Chirinda, Executive Director of Patsaka Trust, adding that the project is an investment in the town’s youthful human and cultural capital.

The project, which is funded by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands (RNE) and managed by Hivos, utilises community radio, photojournalism, citizen journalism and social media to encourage youth to gather, create and disseminate information. As part of the project, an information hub equipped with four computers and access to the internet was set up and is helping young people connect with the world. Since the project started in November 2014, 70 young people have been trained on how to gather content from the community using new information technologies.

Chirinda said that social media is providing young people with an unprecedented opportunity to tell their own story.

“Social media is our only gateway, it’s the only way to get our story out. We train young people because they are inquisitive. They want to find answers; they want things to improve. And they use social media to share the story.”
Billy Marufu, 24, who was trained to be a citizen journalist, said that the project has helped him to question his society as well as report on critical issues in the town.

“The training has boosted my confidence and is helping me to contribute to the development of my community. The training, including photo journalism, is helping me to bring quality information to the people,” said Marufu.
Chirinda said that more support is required to establish satellite information hubs closer to the most disadvantaged youth in the town.

“We’re keen to expand our information hubs to the high density areas of Kariba where most of the young people live. We need more computers to establish the hubs. We believe that reaching out to marginalised and disadvantaged young people in our town can expedite the process of change in our community,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential, there’s a lot of hope among young people in Kariba. With information, we can feed and shape the energies of young people.”