The National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) is a youth umbrella body for youth organizations working in Zimbabwe. It was formed in 2011 and registered as a Trust in Harare. The main reasons for the establishment of the Association were to create a platform for young people on development issues; to build consensus for the youth agenda; and to create a common platform to show case different initiatives and ideas. NAYO has its vision and mission collectively set by the secretariat, Board, and Management Committee. The vision is spelt out as “to see a repositioned, redefined and enhanced role of youth in community and national, regional, and international developmental processes”. The mission is to address the challenges that youth are facing and contribute towards their active participation in developmental processes through coordination, advocacy, capacity building and information sharing initiatives. In terms of geographic areas of focus, NAYO concentrates on the district, provincial, and national levels. Locally, NAYO chairs the National Youth Sector in the National Association of NGOs (NANGO) in Zimbabwe. Beyond this, NAYO is the Regional Youth Coordinator for SADC-AAYC and Global Youth Coordinator for CSOs Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE).To achieve its objectives and mission, NAYO:
- engages in research and knowledge generation,
- does policy analysis and advocacy,
- hosts and attends convenings and dialogues,
- engages in mobilization or movement building,
- collaborates or partners with other organisations, and
- engages in capacity strengthening.
The organization carries out internal financial audits, annual external audits, IT systems audit, skills audit, and review of programs. Internal policies in place in the organization include Human Resources and Staff Development, Gender and Sexual Harassment, Conflict of Interest, Financial Management, Child Protection, and Monitoring and Evaluation policies.
Being a membership-based organization, representatives from NAYO member organizations (currently 183) constitute the highest decision-making and policy formulation body of NAYO that is known as the General Assembly (GA). Membership of NAYO is classified as either ‘full membership’ or ‘affiliation’ and members influence the strategic and policy direction of the organization. Below the GA comes the Board with responsibility to supervise the Secretariat. The secretariat of the organization is headed by an Executive Director. Below the Executive Director are the Finance Manager; an Accountant, Programs Managers; IT Manager; Communications Manager/Officer; Program/Projects Officer(s) and Assistants, and a Mainstreaming Officer. In support of all the program areas, the Mainstreaming Officer has responsibility to mainstream cross-cutting themes, namely HIV and AIDS, Climate Change, Gender, and Peace building in the organization’s work.
The strategy of NAYO is jointly developed by the internal team, the management, and an external consultant. Guided by the strategy, the Association focuses on a wide range of issues. The thematic areas of interest are Social Justice, Inequality, Democracy, Human Rights, Economic Justice/Governance, Gender and Women’s rights, Youth, and Development cooperation. Focus under these is as follows:
1. Social Justice
Under the social policy cluster, NAYO does
- research and advocates for improved access, as well as conducting training on Social Justice. The organization is also currently focusing on civil protection, particularly Cyclone Idai under the same theme.
The focus of NAYO on issues under the theme of ‘inequality’ is on
- research on government effectiveness.
- advocacy for improved access, and in the development of alternative policy options and models for drivers of inequality, relating to trade regimes and Illicit financial flows in particular.
Similarly, NAYO’s democracy related work involves
- research, advocacy for improved access, and the development of alternative policy options and models on electoral reforms; voter education; election monitoring and observing; nurturing citizenship; local government reforms/effectiveness; enhancing participation in local/national process; and movement building/support.
4. Human rights
NAYO’s stake in human rights is specifically on research, advocacy for improved access, education/ training on human rights, and litigation on political and civil rights; minority rights; cultural rights; women’s rights; economic rights; free speech; and freedom of assembly.
5. Economic justice/governance
NAYO’s focus under Economic Justice/ governance is on:
- research, advocacy for improved access, development of alternative policy options and models on public budget analysis; financial inclusion; anti-corruption; natural governance (mining, wildlife, fisheries, forestry); and informal sector and SMME development/support.
NAYO has projects funded by private international philanthropy organisations and bilateral development partners. Projects implemented in the last two years include Youth and Accountability in Government; Defending Youth Agency; Non-state Actors Alliance; CSO Campaign on Development Effectiveness; and Youth in Action for Development Effectiveness projects. Out of the five projects, three are budgeted at between US$100,000 and US$300,000, with two running for 24 - 48 months and one between six and 12 months. Budgets for the other two projects, with a duration that exceeds 48 months, are over US$500,000.
Knowledge Product Generation and Research
In terms of knowledge products, NAYO produces an organizational newsletter, policy briefs and reports. The organization also runs a blog and publishes journal articles and book chapters. Over the past three years, between more than six of these were produced. Research is carried out by the internal team and occasionally they hire external consultants. The research normally includes desktop research, field surveys, and policy research. In disseminating its research, NAYO posts on its website, does official launches, and circulates through email list servers. In the past three years, several other ways have been used to disseminate information. The organisation held five convenings, more than 20 workshops, and attended more than five book launches. In addition, the organisation has made more than five presentations at public meetings, NAYO had more than 15newspaper postings and attended more than five meetings with policy makers/NGOs, CSOs, embassies, business sector, government, political parties, donor agencies, and general citizens.NAYO carries out advocacy, seeking to influence policy change at local (community/municipality), national, sub-regional (e.g. SADC, COMESA), and global levels. Advocacy actions include preparation of policy briefs to support policy positions, analysing and communicating policy gaps and suggestions on new models, engagements with policy makers, and mobilising network(s) seeking policy change. Advocacy work is the responsibility of an Advocacy Unit within the organization. NAYO has 6903 Twitter followers and also engages the media through TV appearances, radio features, and newspapers.
Constituency and Movement Building and Collaborations
NAYO’s work benefits several stakeholders including
- local communities,
- local NGOs,
- international NGOs,
- social movements,
- government departments,
- think tanks with technical expertise,
- multilateral agencies, for example UN agencies, and
- specific special interest communities such as arts and culture, disabled, and orphans.
These beneficiaries use evidence generated for policy advocacy, leverage on the name of NAYO to enhance their own interventions, approach NAYO for the preparation of alternative policy positions, and use NAYO’s online materials in developing their own programs. The same beneficiaries also contributed to the strategy of NAYO or its areas of focus in various ways, including helping to establish the organisation, participating in the strategy making process, suggesting areas of focus, and being involved in mapping the problems that the organisation should focus on. Some of the beneficiaries also fund NAYO’s work.In terms of collaborations, NAYO partners with CBOs, local NGOs, international NGOs, government departments, think-tanks with technical expertise, and multilateral agencies (e.g. UN agencies). Collaboration is in respect of joint implementation in similar projects, providing research-based evidence to advocacy focused partners, being a recipient, and in some cases provider, of technical assistance. NAYO is also part of an existing network of organisations engaged in similar work, engaging with like-minded organisations at the national, sub-regional, regional, as well as global levels. Benefits from such engagement have included increasing visibility of work, enhanced effectiveness, access to vital platforms, training, access to information, access to resources, and solidarity.
Measure of Effectiveness
In measuring the effectiveness of its interventions, NAYO commissions regular evaluations, has in place an ongoing internal monitoring process, promotes feedback from partners, and uses the indicator of government’s adoption of its recommendations. Apart from the inhouse Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and the organisation’s management, consultants and donors play roles in evaluation. As documented evidence of the impact of its work, NAYO has had external reports citing its work, written/recorded affirmation by beneficiaries, as well as independent evaluation reports.
NAYO funds its work from multiple sources, including earnings from existing endowment, Fundraising, Consultancy income, and Income from other investments. The organisation gets 30% from fundraising; 60% from consultancy; and 10% from other investments. NAYO does not own any immovable assets/property. The organization has a finance/funding strategy in place. In case it runs out of funding, as a membership organization, NAYO will be able to still get involved in different CSOs’ platforms, within networks, thus maintaining its visibility. Consultancy income could also keep the organisation running.
The main factors affecting the work of NAYO were identified as including funding situation, limited number of collaborating partners, local government practices, information technology, and government policies. In view of changes in the environment, NAYO has recruited interns, intensified fundraising efforts, and leveraged on networks to ensure presence is visible and clear in terms of the youth agenda at a regional presence, interface with government in terms of policy shifts and moves.