Documentary on Newstalk: The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia

Exploring some of the development challenges faced by Zambian youth

Documentary on Newstalk: The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia

Brighton Kaoma, one of the founders of Agents of Change

In “The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia”  Producer Derek O'Halloran travels to Africa to document some of the development challenges faced by Zambian youth and the ways in which young Zambians are responding.

“The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia”  tells the story of some of the development challenges that affect the lives of Zambia's youth and how young people and organisations that represent them are working for change. 

Zambia has a young and vibrant population – half of it's 15 million people are under 18. The nation has reached two of the Millennium Development Goals by achieving universal primary education and by reducing HIV infection rates.  Yet the country continues to face major development challenges.

Despite reducing HIV infection rates 1.2 million Zambians are still HIV positive and worryingly, less than half of Zambian young people surveyed are able to identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Because of this many youth agencies focus on prevention using a youth friendly, peer led model to provide sexual and reproductive health information.

“Every hour three Zambian young people between eighteen and twenty four get infected with HIV”, says Agents of Change co-founder Brighton Kaoma (22). The student run agency work to change this by running radio workshops for young people - creating broadcasts on issues such as HIV prevention.

The youthful Kaoma has also co designed U-Report, a UNICEF supported text information service on HIV prevention targeted at young Zambians, who like young people in Ireland, are enthusiastic mobile phone users.

It's not just in the area of HIV prevention that Zambia's development challenges affecting young people are being met head on. Almost all Zambian children now have the opportunity to attend primary school. This is in part due to the community school movement who run 3000 schools staffed by voluntary teachers. Together they account for more than 20% of primary school provision and represent a potent grass roots response to the education needs of Zambia's children.

In Lusaka the nation's capital the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia also depend on volunteer peer educators to staff their youth friendly corner. Faustino Musopelo (21) explains, “the youth friendly corner provides information on sexual and reproductive healthcare services to fellow youth.” The service is designed to make the clinic a welcoming place for first time visitors and is an example of how young Zambians are volunteering to help and support their peers.

Throughout Zambia there are a wide range of civil society and community based organisations working to meet the development challenges the nation faces. Many of these agencies are youth led and work to give young people a voice in bringing positive change to Zambian society.

But at just twenty one why do young people like Musopelo, and so many of her generation, devote her time to volunteering and activism? “I really have the passion to help the youth”, she says. “I'm a youth and I want to be the person who'll be acting and not just speaking about action. I want to be involved in the development of this country.”

BROADCAST TIMES: “The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia” will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday November 21st at 7am and repeated at 10pm.

“The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia” can also be listened to online at: www.newstalk.com

Podcast available at: www.newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk after the broadcast.

“The Sky's the Limit – Young People and Development in Zambia” was produced by Derek O' Halloran in collaboration with Zambian young people.

 The project was supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund