The participation of youths is important in the management of environmental problems. Environmental problems such as deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, and improper waste disposal are common in most parts of Ethiopia. Inappropriate environmental policies, population growth, climate change, and low level of awareness and less participation of the public are the major factors responsible for the problems. These environmental problems are affecting the overall agricultural productivity of the country necessitating corrective measures. The participation of youths in environmental management activities is important not only because they are the most productive group of society, but also because they constitute a significant number (30 and 28% of the Ethiopian and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) total population, respectively). This article, in line with the Ethiopian Youth Development and Change Package which is a program designed to materialize the Ethiopian Youth Policy (2004), discusses the success achieved and the challenges encountered in the implementation of the program in SNNPRS. The study is based on primary data collected by household survey from 7,630 youths all over the region. Other relevant secondary data were obtained from different sources. The findings have indicated that significant integrated watershed management activities have been undertaken in the region and as a result, some of the degraded lands rehabilitated, and urban greening and sanitation have improved. However, lack of autonomous organizational structure, weak coordination, lower youths’ participation and perception regarding their responsibility in managing the environment, lack of follow up for environmental management activities, absence of civic societies working in environmental management in the region are found to be problems to be resolved. Deforestation is found now to be the major environmental problem in the region.
Key words: Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS), environmental degradation, youth participation, environmental management.
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