HOLLA experiences from Dessie youth point of view

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Over half of Ethiopia’s population consists of young people between the ages of 15-24 years. Despite the government’s efforts to improve the living condition of this part of the population with a variety of engagement of the youth itself, many of the youth face diverse problems and live with constant life challenges.

Especially in urban centers of the country, the number of delinquent juveniles is increasing. In Dessie it is believed that there are many people living on the streets, and more than half of these are young people. This number is increasing every day due to poverty and migration of people from the rural to urban areas in search of a better life.  It is also due to children losing parents to AIDS and other causes. These young people are often involved in socially undesirable practices, such as going to a place where to have sex with prostitutes and drug and alcohol abuse. Many youth commit crimes such as robbery and other offenses.  According to police reports more than half of all the arrested criminals are young people. Other available evidence also indicates that young people commit most criminal offences including drug abuse and other harmful practices in urban areas of Ethiopia.  

One of the major factors that seriously aggravate the problems of the youth is the absence of sufficient employment opportunities. A lot of school dropouts and those who complete high school education with less opportunity to join higher learning institutes could remain dependent on their parents or guardians with very limited resources.  Unfortunately a considerable number of them spend almost half of their time in such a state. As a result, those youths who particularly come from low income parents often become hopeless and involved in prostitution and end up contracting HIV/AIDS. Frustrated by the challenges of getting reliable means of subsistence, some young people seem to have lost faith and a vision of tomorrow’s world. The problem calls for an immediate attention to assist in control the situations that are not desirable to the present trend of the young in Ethiopia. The engagement of the youth in the development activities shall be enhanced through motivation and empowerment. It is with this understanding and a sense of responsibility that the project entitled “Capacitating the Youth to get engaged in Social Action Projects” came to existence.

HOLLA aims to bring a behavioural change of young people through building their capacity to enhance their participation on the development agenda in their communities and creating an opportunities for youth partnership for change. Besides building the capacity of the youth through training, the project also contributes to the implementation of the youth development package through promotion of community focused Social Action Projects that involves the participation of the youth at large in Dessie and other parts of Ethiopia.

The project implementation is successful in providing of training to equip the youth and motivate them for action which is basically focused on a participatory methodology where all stakeholders including the beneficiaries are involved from the outset. Training contents are identified based on the needs of the youth in line with the current youth policy package and training modules has adapted to fit the youth demand by experienced training material developers. The training approaches follow the cascading model in two phases where the master trainers who have expertise and experience train the peer educators and the peer educators share the learning to community actors who has a power to influence the community to bring change. Local implementing partners encourage youth voluntary social development actions during events on arts, sports and cultural development activities. Youth led partnerships and platforms are established in sharing experiences among entrepreneurs, cultural and community development actors. 

By implementing the planned activities, the project achieved significant results such as youth partnership at local level is established, youth led national program has delivered and young people armed with better leadership skill to contribute for community development issues. More over community facilitators delivered youth-focused Social Action Projects and local awareness raising champagne activities. All the training and continuous capacity-building activities implemented by the project have created an impact on participants, families and communities. Young people in Dessie learned new things from the Active Citizen training and they are motivated and empowered. Above all, this project creates a big chance to connect and develop youth partnership in Youth Associations and Federations in the city of Dessie.