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Youth inclusion in socio-economic programs: Potential for fostering social cohesion and violence prevention in East and southern Africa

More than two-thirds of Africa’s population are under the age of 35, making it the most youthful continent in the world. Although this growing youth population can provide an economic and social boom, it is often seen as a source of socio-political concern. There is a debate among policymakers in Africa about the common perception that lack of meaningful inclusion opportunities, including the lack of decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods, can deepen societal problems and lead to deviant behaviour, including gang violence, gender-based violence, and radicalization. More work is needed to engage communities and local policymakers to improve their understanding of youth issues, such as the factors that motivate young people to become engaged and how to develop effective violence-free strategies.

This project examines the potential impact of youth livelihoods and socio-economic programs on preventing and mitigating violence and fostering inclusion, especially programs that incorporate elements of social skills building. Led by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), the project will assess two specific youth government programs, one in South Africa and one in Kenya, where CSVR will collaborate with the Nairobi-based Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS). The project will generate empirical evidence to examine how these youth socio-economic programs have the potential to prevent, mitigate, and address threats of violence and ultimately contribute to building safer, more resilient communities. They will be assessed in terms of the benefits that have emerged from them and the lessons they provide for the region.

Through CSVR and CHRIPS research collaboration and joint policy engagement, the project will facilitate a community of practice among researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders involved in this sector across Africa. CSVR will synthesize information, establish platforms for sharing information, and disseminate research results. They will also host a platform to share project details, publications, resources, blogs, reports, and audio-visual materials. In addition, CSVR and CHRIPS will host webinars to share experiences on research methodology, policy influence, and capacity building processes, among other issues.

Project ID
Project Status
36 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 599,600.00
South Africa
Democratic and Inclusive Governance
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Hugo van der Merwe
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation