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Psychosocial life skills training for youth

Start project:
  • 2018
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • War Child Holland Uganda office

This program has been created as part of the nexus between emergency response, resilience and self-reliance, and the expanded solutions to refugee and hosting communities. Whilst there are, according to the latest statistics, 276,710 refugees in the Bidibidi settlement, the aim of the program is to enhance the socio-economic well-being of youth in Yumbe district, not limited to refugees. The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UNHCR have set clear target guidelines for humanitarian response, i.e. that every intervention needs to reach at least 30% of the host community. In this program, the consortium will endeavour to achieve at least that number, but it could also be possible during the beneficiary selection that the number of local community youth will be higher. As mentioned above there are tribal, linguistic and religious difference between host communities and refugees. These differences are exacerbated by the differences in received assistance. In line with the Settlement Transformative Agenda and the ReHoPE strategy this project aims to address both groups without prejudice. Where possible the consortium will give preference to youth in mixed host community and refugee groups. There are many reasons to do this, among others to benefit from different experiences of the communities, the access to land of the local community, and to foster improved tolerance. However, in those cases where mixed groups are not possible due to physical distance or language incompatibilities, the consortium will also consider separate groups consisting of either refugee youth or host community youth. This is even more relevant in areas where tensions between the different refugee communities, coming from different parts of South Sudan and various tribes, would otherwise jeopardise the successful implementation of the program. The specificities of implementing a skilling program in an area where at least one third of the population are refugees, are taken into account. This has led, among others, to the distribution of a start-up package early on in the training to alleviate immediate needs for food security, as well as an emphasis on life skills and conflict mitigation within the program. The 5,000 youth selected will be in the age bracket 15-24. However, in each of the groups it would be beneficial to have one or more slightly older individuals who are able to negotiate access to land and ensure the social cohesion and acceptance. The project will also aim at reaching 60 % females. This is due to the heavier role that women play in agriculture, both in the refugee and host communities. It is also connected to the fact that, at least in the refugee settlement, the number of women outweighs that of men. Specific measures have been included to ensure that young women can play an equal role in the program. These include, among others, the choice for local skills providers instead of residential vocational training centres, a bias towards high value crops that can be grown near the homesteads, and the inclusion of specific life skills training targeting young women. As much as possible this ratio will be maintained during the business development phase of the program as well, to support and promote female entrepreneurship in the district. However, the final decision will be based on the quality of the business plans. The indirect beneficiaries are the members of the household of which the youth are part off and will include to some extent parents, siblings and children. The average household size in Yumbe district is 5, and data from UNHCR and IOM show that this is the same for the refugee households on average. Therefore, the program intends to reach 20,000 indirect beneficiaries. The consortiums experience of implementation in Bidibidi has confirmed that refugees have experienced conflict, violence, threats of recruitment, and separation from and/or death of family members and loved ones, in addition to hazardous journeys from their homes to reach refugee settlements. The need for psycho-social and mental health support amongst children and young people remains high. In the April 2017 interagency participatory assessment , which War Child Holland was part of, preliminary findings highlighted increased youth involvement in delinquency like small gangs, substance abuse and inter-tribal fights which might be a negative cope-up mechanism to the trauma they faced in the past. Furthermore, this youth assessment, alongside our own experience, shows that - There is significant need for structural support to enhance economic empowerment for both refugee and host community alike. - The freeze in new arrivals has opened up the opportunity for long term, non-emergency interventions in Bidibidi. Local authorities, the UN, as well as refugees themselves welcome livelihood training interventions. - Youth enrollment in gangs and cases of theft have increased due to lack of socio economic opportunities. - Many youth expressed feel de-motivated due to lack of social and economic opportunities. As a result, some youth turn to drugs and alcohol and others express and interest in returning to South Sudan. Why staying here, for what? We are staying at home doing nothing- It can be feared that this would resolve into recruitment of youth in armed conflict. They express dissatisfaction over the number of livelihood opportunities available to them and are interested in various types of business opportunities but they lack the capital to initiate them. Youth reiterated the importance of livelihood support in any youth targeted program. Taking into account all of the aforementioned information, this program aims to address the gap in programming to provide redress for both psycho-social and economic development needs. The plan is for the youth beneficiaries to gain skills that will not only benefit themselves, but also indirectly benefit their households and greater community at large. This project therefore proposes a well-rounded approach in which psycho-social support underpins future economic development. This multi-stage process stems from the belief that mental health and coping skills should be a precursor to long term economic/livelihood development. Ultimately the goal of this project is to increase the number of refugee and host community youth that generate income and are (self)-employed in the agriculture sector.

This is the War Child Holland implemented part of the ABSYR programme, whereby 5,000 youth will be trained in life skills and receive psychosocial support through the DEALS methodology.

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