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Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Developing youth in Tanzania, with Finnish support

Tanzania is among the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. In  recent years, the country has made significant development in various areas - including the improvement of infrastructure, public sector policies and private sector enterprise. However, all these efforts depend on human resources, and youths have been targeted to help to bring more positive changes and enable the country to move forward.

It is quite clear that, a government like Tanzania's - which is still struggling to fight poverty, disease and ignorance - could not manage to do all these things alone. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been playing a big role in making sure the country attains goals related to development for its people. However, the NGOs could not manage to help the government without getting financial, technical and moral support from others. Finland has been at the fore to supporting various development programmes organised by Tanzanian-based NGOs.

Finnish support for TAYOA

Notably, Finland has been supporting the Tanzania Youth Association (TAYOA) - an NGO, which was established in November 1997 under the provisions of Trustees’ Incorporation Ordinance (1956) (Cap 375 of the laws of Tanzania) (Registration number 1497). It is an alliance of partners designed to serve youth in urban and rural areas through Information Communication Technology (ICT). In its 14 years of existence, TAYOA has grown to be a vibrant indigenous organization transforming young peoples’ dreams into reality. TAYOA embraces creativity and innovation through utilisation of information and communication technology (ICT) for projects ncluding HIV prevention, leadership and governance, employability and entrepreneurship. However, all these have been realised with the support from the government of Finland. TAYOA's Executive Director, Mr Peter Massika, told this writer that the government of Finland has been of a reliable partner and a strong pillar, which supports the implementation of various programmes and enables the NGO to plan for future strategies.

 “TAYOA's vision is to empower youth of Tanzania to take charge and engage in  improving their quality of life - that is, free from poverty and diseases. We have been  able to put this vision into practice because we are being backed by Finland. We are  very grateful to their support,” said Mr Massika - also commenting that since 2007  the NGO has cooperated with the Embassy of Finland  in implementing various  projects. Among the big programmes that Finnish Embassy has supported are  establishment of the 117 National Health Helpline.

“Indeed, the Finnish Embassy is the one of the main donors of TAYOA activities in Tanzania,” he said.

TAYOA has been campaigning to educate youths on the killer disease HIV/AIDS. Mr Massika explains that the Embassy of Finland has supported the war against HIV/AIDS in the country, and that many youths have changed ways following TAYOA campaigns, which in one way or another are being supported by the Embassy of Finland. According to Mr Massika, through the 117 AIDS helpline, the NGO has managed to reach more than 2.3 million Tanzanians with counselling, useful information and referral services. He said, “The helpline is playing a major role in increasing Tanzanians knowledge, awareness and skills for disease prevention.”

Moreover, the NGO has worked with the Embassy of Finland to established an SMS system, to support HIV treatment and prevention efforts. So far, more than 326,213 people have subscribed to the SMS system.

“The SMS system is specifically used to improve adherence to ART and eMTCT, it is also used in creating demand for voluntary male circumcision among adults, and the elimination of gender-based violence,” said Mr Massika.

How does Finnish support pay dividends to TAYOA and Tanzanians youths?

TAYOA has been conducting various programmes since it was established in 1997; the Finnish support that started to flow from 2000s accelerated its successes in helping Tanzanians in various areas. Currently, TAYOA is receiving support from Finnish Embassy in Tanzania to implement an SMS system for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 3, 4, 5 and 6. These are health-related MDG projects, which aim at improving the health of individuals, communities and strengthening the whole health sector. The system also supports reporting of gender-based violence.

TAYOA has succeeded in reducing the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS amongst in-school and out-of-school youths through behavioural change communication and life-planning skills in the Dar es Salaam, Coast and Tanga regions. The NGO is currently a leading organisation in applying ICT for reliable and user-friendly health and entrepreneurship activities (such as National AIDS Helpline Services and SMS).

TAYOA conducted the Youth Leadership Project, where youth were provided with leadership skills needed for participation in the decision-making process at Parliament and local councils. Through its employability and entrepreneurship programme, TAYOA improved the employability of disadvantaged Tanzanian youths through the provision of transferable and marketable skills - enabling them access to long-term career opportunities and improved livelihoods. The NGO also promoted dialogue, debate, and positive change in attitude, skills and practices to improve governance and reduce poverty and HIV/AIDS transmission. Moreover, for more than six years the NGO has been promoting environmental protection through youth involvement in activities such as tree-planting clubs at school and community levels. It also helps to build youth capacity with respect to the key principles of project planning, research and management, in order to engage in meaningful dialogue with policy and decision makers.

Achieving with Finnish funding

For his part, the Embassy of Finland to Tanzania's First Secretary, Mr Jussi Nummelin said TAYOA was among the best performing NGOs that are being supported by Finland in Tanzania. Commenting on the Finnish funding achievement to TAYOA, Mr Numelin said his office and the country at large was grateful with what the NGO was doing and that many Tanzanians especially Youths were benefitting a lot from the programme. He said since 2004, the Embassy of Finland has already supported TAYOA with 385,000 euro (TSH 800 million, or US$514,000).

“I am glad to see what TAYOA does to fellow Tanzanians, it is through this NGO my office feels great at supporting Tanzanian youths, who are the backbone of this country’s economy,” he said, adding that the Finnish embassy has supported the establishment of 117 National AIDS helpline by providing counselling, information and referral to services in three specific areas including: gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS treatment and general health. To date, more than 1,710,000 calls have been received. Furthermore, the Finnish embassy supported the establishment of the hudumatzsms system for Health related MDG’s. So far more than 180,567 people subscribed to the system. Moreover, Nokia supported the establishment of vijanatz, which are designed to improve the employability of disadvantaged Tanzania young people – a project with two components: focuses on computer-based employability training and internships for unemployed graduates; and university students, as well as entrepreneurial training and assistance in youth enterprise development for youth who lack higher education. The training includes life skills, ICT, and job search techniques training followed by internship/business development. Another project component entails the development of an Internet portal for youth which offers free digital educational material, thus online educational Radio and a job mediation service for youth and employers. The project was supported by the Finnish Foreign Affairs Ministry in collaboration by Nokia, witking with the Finnish Children and Youth Foundation.

TAYOA Executive Director, Mr Peter Massika Outcomes of the project

 According to Mr Jussi, so far the project has recorded a  credible performance that ensures development changes among  Tanzanian Youths. He said at least 2,711,367 young people  have already visited the vijanatz and vijanajobs portal section a  and a good number enrolled for the SMS and e-mail alerts.  More than 3,000 young people trained on employability and  entrepreneurship. The project has also led to the establishment  of online radio, which can be, accessed through mobile phone.  The support from Finnish Embassy has also led to the e  establishment of the Mobile HIV testing Van in order to bring  HIV counselling and testing services closer to people. So far 150 to 200 people are being served through this service every day. Moreover, the Finnish Embassy has successfully enabled the NGO to establish the Youth Studio for production of audio materials and establishment of UBUNGO bus terminal offices. At least 20,000 people are being served at the area. With this support, from the Embassy of Finland and Finnish people, there are every sign of having a free HIV/AIDS generation in Tanzania.


What do youths say about Finnish support and TAYOA activities?

Mr Denis Mkude (24), a resident of Bagamoyo District, said whoever supports TAYOA should keep doing so because the NGO has helped to shape Youths and give them new hope.

Ms Rehema Abdallah (26), a resident of Kinondoni in Dar es Salaam, said the Finnish Embassy has changed many Youths lives through TAYOA. She said many Youths were now aware of their health status regarding HIV/AIDS.

Mr Harun Nassor (17), a form three student at Benjamin William Mkapa Secondary school in Dar es Salaam, said the Embassy of Finland has played a big role in changing Youths lives through TAYOA programmes. He said his brother has managed to secure a job through TAYOA employment portal. Also many students have been aware of HIV/AIDS through the NGO’s programmes.


Florence Mugarula