In acknowledging the existing gaps in coordination of youth-targeted HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programmes both at national and district level, the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) intends to develop stakeholders standard operating guidelines to guide stakeholders implementing youth-targeted programmes as part of the effort to improve sectoral coordination.
NYCOM also plans to work with other key institutions with sectoral coordination mandate such as the National AIDS Commination (NAC) and the Directorate of Reproductive Health (RHD) to strengthen the operations of Technical Working Groups.
In an interview, the Programme Officer for Youth Reproductive Health (YRH), Asharn Kossam, indicated that the move is based on the collective resolution made by stakeholders at Key Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on the Factors Affecting Youth Leadership in HIV and AIDS and the Existing Gaps in Sectoral Coordination.
“Lack of coordination among the organisations implementing HIV and AIDS and SRH youth-targeted interventions affects documentation and evaluation of programmes to get a real picture of the situation and this might affect the achievement of 90-90-90 HIV and AIDS targets,” he said.
He also expressed a concern over the current trend where some stakeholders deliberately ignore NYCOM and the District Councils by selecting youth leaders and youth organisations for different trainings, membership in various committees and other opportunities without the knowledge of the National Youth Council and District Councils.
According to Kossam, the situation leads to some youth organisations not being cooperative with NYCOM and the District Councils.
Recently, officials from different institutions such as Government Ministries, the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Populations Services International (PSI), GIZ, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), NGO Board, Plan International, CARE, Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM), Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT), YONECO, and youth representatives met in Lilongwe to discuss issues affecting youth leadership and existing gaps in coordination.
During the meeting, participants acknowledged the existence of a gap in coordination and it was attributed to lack of capacity for coordinating structures as well as lack of collaboration by stakeholders who think they are only accountable to their donors hence ignoring mandated local structures. In response to the situation, a recommendation was made for NYCOM to facilitate the development of operating guidelines through consultative process.
During the meeting, Mr. Aubrey Chibwana, the Executive Director of the National Youth Council, expressed appreciation to the National AIDS Commission (NAC) for support financial support it has been providing to the Council. It was reported that between 2013 and 2016, NAC has provided NYCOM with about 110 Million Kwacha for a project which has helped to promote youth participation and youth leadership in HIV and AIDS and SRH activities.
On the other hand, the Youth Commissioner in the Board of Commissioners of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Chimwemwe Kaonga appealed to stakeholders asking them to support the effort of youth organisations with resources, capacity building, partnerships, and through improved coordination with the mother body the National Youth Council.
He further challenged fellow youth leaders on the need to rebrand youth work by making it more professional by observing good organisational leadership and programme management practices, enhance the visibility of youth-led programmes, and show they are knowledgeable, skilled, organised and committed as strategies to attract the support of stakeholders.
The National Youth Council of Malawi is a Statutory Corporation of the Republic of Malawi established in 1996 under the National Youth Council of Malawi Act (No. 22 of 1996). The Council is mandated to coordinate, promote and regulate youth work in Malawi as well as responsible for facilitation and implementation of programmes that promote health and development of young people. Currently, NYCOM has 180 affiliated youth organisations spread across the country.