The African Monitor (AM), a Pan-African organisation that seeks to unlock grassroots potentials as the drivers of Africa’s economic rejuvenation, Thursday hosted a side-event at the ongoing 2nd annual African Youth SDGs Summit in Accra, Ghana, during which the group presented the findings of its Citizens Report to a section of over 1000 youth delegates from across Africa attending the Summit.
The Citizens Report was generated within the past few months by AM-trained youth champions through citizens’ hearings conducted across 7 countries through which community members’ voices were heard in a bid to collect citizens-generated data for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the SDGs in Africa.
The champions reported data from across seven African countries – Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
“This initiative aims to create awareness about the SDGs and to equip citizens, particularly the youth, to better demand delivery of services from their governments and to hold the government accountable; to improve development results and to improve policy responses to the needs of the most vulnerable communities,” said a pre-event press statement by AM.
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“With the support from OSISA/OSIWA, AM launched the Citizens Report initiative in 2017 with the aim of collecting citizen-generated data to monitor SDGs implementation, focusing on eradicating extreme poverty in a generation; quality education, skills and employment; and reducing inequality in all its forms, with a special focus on gender, income and spatial inequalities.”
AM’s director, Ms Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, said some of the key findings of the citizen-generated data, amongst others, were the fact that most young girls across surveyed communities in the 7 countries were unable to continue schooling as a result of being married off early and that there were huge discrepancies between male-headed households and female-headed ones, in terms of income levels.
“The report is a good example of how citizens can be engaged in their own development process; we designed a methodology that was focused on the poorest of the poor because we wanted to measure the ‘Leaving No One Behind’ element of the SDGs. We discovered the extent to which priority services were not reaching the poor; we found out that no households in the communities surveyed were accessing social assistance; in some cases they do not even know about the existence of social services,” said Mniki-Mangaliso.
AM believes that at the core of resilient societies is voice and that voice is the power that gives ordinary people the ability to engage social, political and economic powers in order to express aspirations and preferences, secure their rights, practice their responsibilities, and demand accountability from the state for better development outcomes.