Impact Story

Enabling young people to shape Ethiopia’s national policy

Published on 7 September 2020

Alice Webb

Communications and Impact Officer

A winning research collaboration supported by the IDS-backed Impact Initiative has succeeded not only in getting young people’s voices heard by senior decision makers in Ethiopia but has also fed into the design of the country’s next national youth policy.

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This new channel of influence for young people in Ethiopia was opened up thanks to a special National Youth Seminar on uncertainty, violence, poverty and rights, held in Addis Ababa in March 2019, with support from the Impact Initiative. Around 100 people participated, including 50 young people who shared their experiences of seeking ways out of poverty with government officials and senior decision makers.

Representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth attending the event affirmed the importance of listening to young people’s priorities, and said that the research discussed at the seminar would contribute to the re-design of the national youth policy. The day-long event gave young people the chance to describe their struggles with multiple and intersecting barriers, in particular living with disability.

From Delhi to Addis Ababa

The concept of the National Youth Seminar was first championed by the YOUR World Research partnership, who emerged as winners at a ‘Dragons’ Den’-inspired event in Delhi where research groups were invited to pitch ideas for working together to achieve impact.

YOUR World Research is funded by ESRC-DFID’s Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation, and is a partnership between Goldsmiths, Child Hope UK, the University of Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian NGO CHADET.

The Delhi event was held at the Power of Partnership conference in 2018 and was organised by the Impact Initiative, which is led jointly by IDS and Cambridge University’s Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre.

YOUR World Research set out to generate new knowledge about how marginalised young people are affected by insecurity and uncertainty, with a focus on Ethiopia and Nepal.

Positive official reactions

The seminar highlighted research evidence from young people living with disability in Ethiopia and other African countries – Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia – with a view to sharing lessons and recommendations for the Ethiopian government. Other themes were youth justice systems and street children.

‘We strongly believe that the outcome of this research will help a lot, especially in the policy design process of the National Youth Policy,’ Matiyas Assefa Chefa, Director General for Youth Participation in the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth, said at the event.

Estibel Mitiku, from the Ministry, described the seminar as ‘a very important opportunity to listen to the youth and for them to tell us what is important to them’. She added: ‘We need to strengthen our systems and create an inclusive strategy that incorporates all relevant youth issues.’

Officials have subsequently affirmed that research discussed at the seminar has contributed to the re-design of Ethiopia’s national youth policy.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IDS.


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