Engaging Youths in Civic Participation and Democratic Processes

Engaging Youths in Civic Participation and Democratic Processes

To Promote Youth Civic Participation and Reduce Voter Apathy and Antipathy in Cameroon.

This project addresses voter apathy and Antipathy amongst youths in Cameroon, which serves as an early warning signal of unrest,  violence and war. Voter apathy is a  clear-cut indicator of limited and manipulated democracy.

Cameroon has a  population of about 26 million citizens, 60% being a  youthful population 35% of whom are above voting age (20years) making about 65% of the total population above voting age. However,  less than 5million citizens have voted in the last  2  presidential elections within the duration of 14-21 years. As per World Bank statistics, in the 2004 presidential elections out of an estimated voters' population of about  16,000,000, 4,657,748  persons registered to vote,  3,830,272  voted.  In  the  2011  Presidential  elections,  7,251,651  registered  to vote,  4,951,434  voted.  This display of non-participation by youths is an indication of antipathy and possible unrest,  violence and rioting due to refraining from expressing their opinion in the  Ballot box.

The root causes of voter apathy amongst others are;  Lack of trust in the electoral system,  Bureaucracy and bottlenecks in registration,  Lack of targeted sensitization,  Poor citizenship education and lack of patriotism, Inadequate communication and use of youth-friendly media  (social media),  Poor accessibility to interior rural communities due to poor roads and lack of staff and means by political parties and  ELECAM. The youthful population is now infested with a  syndrome and mindset of antiparty.

PROJECT VISION:

In cognizance of the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights duly ratified by Cameroon and embedded in its constitution, this project aims at creating a conducive environment for the exercise of civil and political rights and the right to vote by young Cameroonians. This project visualizes a remarkable increase in the number of young voters in the  2018  Triple  Elections through instilling confidence in the biometric system of  Elections,  bridging the gaps of bureaucracy in the electoral system, and implanting sustainable networks and social media groups to ignite effective registration and voting by Cameroonian youths.

PROJECT SUMMARY:

This project seeks to tackle the pressing issue of the non-participation of Cameroonian youths (including but not limited to university students, young workers, rural youth, etc…) in general, but particularly to curb young voters` apathy and antipathy in Cameroon, by creating and influencing participation in innovative programs that will reach out to, sensitize and mobilize youths in university communities and rural areas in Cameroon to massively turn-out and vote in the 2018 presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.It will diagnose some of the immediate reasons and causes for non-participation in democratic processes in Cameroon, challenges that might be faced in voters registration, but more importantly design innovative activities and means to reach out to, change mindsets and encourage the identified target groups of youths to register and vote. The project will partner with the Cameroon Elections Observatory Board (ELECAM), Local and International Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Bodies, Local and International Media, branding popular young artists as youth ambassadors, to actively galvanize youths to vote for the 2018 Triple elections.

PROJECT INNOVATION:

In this project are embedded lots of youth-friendly mechanisms to hit assigned targets.  Proof of registration will serve as a pass to grand concerts with the  Most  Popular  Cameroonian artists branded  “Not  Too  Young to  Vote Ambassadors”.  It will bridge bureaucracy through the door to door registration,  award souvenirs to all young voters bearing  “I  Voted”.  It will provide refreshment in overcrowded polling stations,  create a  website of nearest registration and voting polls,  create social media blogs with keen note on WhatsApp to ensure voting,  create sustainable  YALDA  networks in universities and rural areas.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • More than 5.000 youth of voting age registered and collected their voter’s card
  • More than 1,000,000 youth were reached through traditional media social media with slogans decrying electoral violence.
  • 3 University Civic clubs were set up in the University of Bamenda, University of Buea, and University of Yaounde 2.

Through this project, MDDT has succeeded in the process of social integration of youth through her social media platform which has been very vital in countering radicalization by teaching youth and creating a collective identity of shared values. Equally important in the de-radicalization of youth is the engagement of local communities. A partnership with traditional councils led to the creation of civic advocacy community hubs in some chiefdoms across the NW/SW regions. The emphasis here was on the use of culture in promoting social dialogue.