Religious peace organizations convened a virtual regional forum on 12th August to commemorate the International Youth Day (IYD) 2021 under the theme on “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovations”.

Using a localised theme on “Celebrating Youth Champions” the forum drew the participation of the youth from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan.The youth delved into discussions around the engagement of young people in Agriculture and the need to make the venture more attractive to them.

Select youth champions who spoke during the event also gave their experience as regards to their involvement in Agriculture and the role of gender interventions in food security. Speaker after speaker, they urged fellow youth to carefully venture into sustainable Agriculture through research, resilience, hard work and adopting best practices.

Ms Lilian Nakal, a youth from South Sudan, painted a picture of the correlation between hunger and Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country. She observed that as a result of constant conflicts, food insecurity/ hunger has continued to rise. “A hungry man in an angry man”, she noted.

The religious organizations which included; the Arigatou International, Africa Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL), Fellowship of Christian Council and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) and International Centre for Peace, Human Rights and Development in Africa (IPHRD-Africa) also challenged the youth to ignore the notion that Agriculture is a preserve of the old people. They noted that through innovations, the youth can greatly contribute to the transformation of food systems thus addressing food insecurity and consequently leading to peaceful coexistence.

The IYD was designated by the United Nations in 1999 and first observed on 12th August 2000 with an aim of drawing attention to issues around the youth.

IYD 2021 live stream

One of the participants peruses through the Extractives Handbook during the Regional forum on Extractives in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa

The Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) in collaboration with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) organized a hybrid Regional Forum on Extractives in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa under the theme on Governance of Extractives for Sustainable Development and Peace: The Role of Religious Leaders held on 3rd and 4th August 2021 in Nairobi Kenya.

The event brought together religious leaders, women and the youth from FECCLAHA member councils and churches, who were impacted on with knowledge on; the role of faith actors in advocating for Extractive Justice, Human Rights and the Extractives industry, the Africa Mining Vision, as well as on advocacy initiatives that faith actors can be engaged in and how they can effectively network and collaborate with likeminded Civil Society Organizations. Participants also had the opportunity to share their experience as regards extractives in their individual countries; Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia.

The forum culminated into the launch of the Handbook for Religious Leaders on Advocacy in the Extractive Sector: A Faith Perspective. The Handbook The book The Handbook contains an analysis of the social, political, economic as well as environmental impacts of the extractives industry in the countries of: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) , Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda and seeks to equip religious leaders with knowledge in advocacy strategies in the extractive industry.

Also present at the event were representatives from organizations such as Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Hekima Institute for Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR), Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), BEACON and Tax Justice Network Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Fr. Anthony Makunde of AMECEA noted that East African countries are richly blessed in rare minerals required for green technology and therefore religious leaders are tasked to ensure that good preparation is done in the legal, social and environmental spheres through massive civic education. His sentiments were echoed by Fr. Dr. Elias Opongo of HIPSIR and Sheikh Ratib Abdinoor who added that all that we have on earth is as a result of the Almighty and therefore it is a religious requirement to protect what we have; and this calls for the need to increase the knowledge of religious leaders in order to enable them to be more effective in advocating for justice in the extractives sector.

FECCLAHA in its quest for peace in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa and the world at large continues to address issues of extractive justice as it remains a potential threat to peaceful co-existence and sustainable development.

Written/photos by:

David Omondi

Communication Assistant – FECCLAHA