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Building institutional capacity and networks to work with young people for development in Africa


Africa is a young continent. In many of its countries, young people make up a large percentage of the population. Study after study shows that investing in youth – for education, for jobs, for health - brings benefits to society as a whole. Furthermore, engaging young people in the development of their countries is a practical means to advancing the achievement of the goals set forth in the Millennium Declaration and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Yet even in cases where regional and national policies reflect the importance of youth, implementation is often lacking. Ministries responsible for youth are universally under-funded and ill equipped to address the multifaceted challenges faced by young people and youth organizations generally lack the capacity and resources to ably assist their peers.

The barriers to effective youth development are linked to the region’s most acute development challenges. Too often, the formative years of African youth are characterized by exposure to deep-seated poverty, limited access to quality health care, education, and opportunities for decent employment, and widespread deficiencies in the provision of basic needs such as food and water, sanitation, and fuel. These constraints are even more severe for particular subgroups of the youth population, including girls and young women, those living in rural areas, those living in regions suffering from on-going conflict, and those who have been infected or affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic that continues to devastate parts of the continent.

Many African governments are addressing these challenges by creating or revising existing national youth policies that aim to increase the support available to young people to fully participate in their societies. Additionally, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted an African Youth Charter at the AU Summit held in Banjul, the Gambia, in July 2006. The Charter makes a number of recommendations aimed to accelerate youth development in a range of issues affecting young people.


To strengthen the ability of Governments in Africa to implement regional and national youth policies by providing technical knowledge via collectives of existing and strengthened national expertise called Youth Development Resource Teams.

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Enhanced capacity of national Governments to implement and evaluate initiatives that support the effective implementation of national youth policies, including increased ability to undertake impact assessments of youth policy interventions.

  • Increased sub-regional cooperation to exchange information and expertise on youth development practices between selected countries in Africa through an expanded knowledge network for youth development.

Implementation Status:

This project began implementation in 2009.