"YES!" to Youth Empowerment in NigeriaThe DRC-DDG Nigeria team is implementing an approach titled ‘Young, Empowered and Safe’ (YES!), with the overall goal of strengthening the resilience of conflict-affected youth who require special attention because of both frequent gaps in assistance provided to them, and their potential to be positive agents of change.
In Northeast Nigeria, the ongoing humanitarian crisis leaves youth as targets for radicalisation and violence: young men affected by displacement are at a high risk of criminality, politicisation and recruitment by armed groups, whilst young women face a high risk of gender-based violence and poverty. The ‘YES!’ approach aims to facilitate participatory planning of a safer, more inclusive community. “DRC-DDG work directly with young people to support them to increase their capability to protect and provide for themselves, as well as claim access to their rights to security, social and legal protection, and sustainable livelihoods”, says DDG Deputy Head of Programme in Nigeria, Marie-Joseé Hamel.
“The ‘YES!’ methodology was put forward to put youth at the centre of a planning process in which participants identify their needs and their own contribution to their community’s and their personal safety”, continues Hamel. This year, 746 youth, including 320 women, participated in the development of ‘YES!’ plans in 18 communities of Adawama and Borno states, two of the most heavily affected states in Northeast Nigeria. Youth were encouraged to reflect on the existing gaps in physical, material and psychological safety and to identify the necessary actions to fill those gaps.
The process highlighted that in all communities, access to vocational skills training and sustainable livelihood opportunities for youth are a highly prioritised need, alongside engaging youth in coordinated security and vigilance activities, and improved coordination between government security providers and local/youth safety actors.
The selected participants expressed their enthusiasm about ‘YES!’, since it is one of the few initiatives putting them at the centre of the action. As a participant from the Kudzum community says, “The success of this training is that we have been able to understand that most of our problems can be solved by us because we have the resources and the potential, even if we need help”. Similarly, a participant from the Muva community says, “We have learnt a lot in the course of this training and our knowledge has been greatly improved. Personally, I know that as a community, we can achieve our goals by just looking inward instead of waiting for other people to come and do it for us”.
'YES!' plans in the Sina community, Nigeria
The process also encouraged active participation by young women and aimed to make sure women felt at ease expressing their opinions, ensuring the planning was carried out in a gender sensitive manner. A young woman from the Yazza community describes her experience: “The ‘YES!’ planning process is a privilege because it really broadened my perception of things within the community. At home after each day’s planning session, my husband would always read through my notes to understand what the training was all about, and was supportive of my participation”.
With support from the DRC-DDG Armed Violence Reduction team, youth are now implementing the activities contained in their plans.
Northeast Nigeria continues to experience a significant and growing humanitarian crisis resulting from ongoing armed conflict, affecting an estimated 14 million people.