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Nexus between youth economic opportunities, inclusion and violence prevention: A Study of Kenya's National Youth Service Community Cohorts Programme

More than two-thirds of Africa’s population is 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 referenced as a source of socio-political concern. There is a 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. This is a source of debate by policymakers in Africa.

In this context, the “youth question” is a powerful framework for approaching questions of development, instability, and social change. Yet, the current assumption that lack of access to economic opportunities is a key driver of youth’s exclusion and involvement in violence has yet to be strongly established. In the context of Africa, where several economic and social programs for youth are being implemented, few researchers have engaged in research that looks at the nexus between economic opportunities and youth violence, which is not linear. More work is also needed to engage communities and local policymakers to better understand youth issues, including youth’s engagement motivations, and develop effective violence-free strategies.

In response to this demand, IDRC launched a closed call for proposals in May 2018 to explore the linkages between youth inclusion, economic opportunities, and violence prevention in Africa. Mirroring a similar thematic initiative launched in Latin America in 2017, this call focused on “Exploring the nexus between youth economic opportunities and violence in Africa”. The expected outcome for projects selected under this call is to generate new evidence on the ways and conditions under which economic programs work to address youth exclusion and violence in Africa and inform key decision-makers of the effectiveness of the program and provide tailored recommendations.

This project is led by the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies, a leading international research centre based in Kenya that focuses on policy-relevant research on human rights, security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, violence, crime, and policing.

Project ID
Project Status
30 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 345,900.00
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
Project Leader
Mutuma Ruteere
Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS)

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