On 16 October 2019, Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) launched the Decade of Struggle and Hope, a Zimbabwean Youth Compendium report. The youth situational compendium provided data that is essential in understanding the state of Zimbabwean youths’ struggles, hopes and aspirations. The main purpose of the situational study was “to establish the political and socio – economic situation” of the Zimbabwean youth aged between 15 – 35 years. The study process reached 5582 youths in the 10 provinces, and it received a 98.7% response rate. Of the 5582, 43% were male respondents whilst 57% were female respondents. The respondents are a reflective of the country’s population that has more female population than male population.
This is a longitudinal study in which data was collected at more than one point in time but initially it had used a cross sectional prevalence study design. The cross sectional prevalence helped in determining the prevalence and at the same time measure the level of exposure of the youth to the socio – economic and political struggles, aspirations and hope.
The situational compendium examined the youth situation in Zimbabwe by probing important factors associated with socio – economic and political struggles, aspirations and hope. It went further to illuminate specific struggles, aspirations and hopes being experienced by the youth.
46% of the youth respondents cited food insecurity within their communities. Food insecurity in our local communities has been precipitated by socio – economic factors as well as political and has inhibited sustainable development. This important aspect is closely linked to unemployment and loss of employment. In this regard, 7% of the respondents were formally employed with more male respondents compared to their female counterparts. Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has left many people unable to afford basic commodities for their livelihoods.
These results show high levels of food insecurity among the Zimbabwean youth and their vulnerability especially in poorest households and communities. The youth situational compendium reveal that there is lack of adequate social safety net for the youth to cushion themselves from food insecurity and other related socio – economic and political variables. Food insecurity has insidious effects on the health and development of youth and they include poor health, developmental risk and behaviour problems, primarily aggression, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
The data from the study reveal that average monthly income for households of which youths were part was RTGS 377, and it was slightly higher among males (RTGS 401.32) as compared to their female counterparts (RTGS388.08). This is a clear indication that social mobility and equal opportunity among the youth in Zimbabwe is still a challenge and this has entrenched an unequal access to socio – economic and political resources.
Youths are the most mobile social group and they constitute the bulk of annual migration movements worldwide. The reason behind youth migration is underlined by the context in which there is high youth unemployment and a serious lack of decent work. 20% of the respondents pointed out to the desire to migrate from rural areas to urban areas whilst a further 25% have intentions to migrate to another country.
On citizen participation, 33% of the youth respondents acknowledged that community meetings played a significant role in being the main source of information, followed by social media with 31%. Thus, it can be argued that community meetings and social media platforms have the potential to facilitate active youth participation and/or engagement in an effort to address their socio – economic and political struggles.
Through social media, youths have an equal opportunity to generate content, distribute and search for information. However, this can be constrained by the fact that 42% of the youth respondents stated that they owned a smartphone, this is lower than the average figure captured by the 2016 Afrobarometer survey on Sub – Saharan youths with smartphones. Bulawayo registered the highest figure of 70% of youth reporting owning a smartphone followed by Harare with 63%. Manicaland province had the least number of participants owning a smartphone (29%).
The population aged 15 – 35 years per province according to the Zimbabwe population census was used as a measure of size to allocate the sample. Having allocated the sample to the 10 provinces, probability proportional was further used to pick the required EAs within each province and rural – urban strata. Out of 195 EAs, 77 were urban and 118 were rural. The urban – rural stratification was done using youth population proportions in rural and urban areas of each province.
By Owen Dhliwayo