Children & Youth

children peacebuilding

How can children contribute to peacebuilding?

Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian children and teachers show how they can play an active role in bringing positive change to their communities.

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From Syria to the Heart of Europe: Journey of a Refugee Actor

Search’s theater program helped three-time refugee Mahmoud find his vocation. Now, he’s using what he learned to support Syrian refugees in Germany.

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Accommodating Religious Identity in Youth Peacebuilding Programs

This toolkit presents an overview of how our programs engage, respect, and accommodate young people’s religious identities around the world, based on insights from Search for Common Ground staff and evaluations. The toolkit identifies positive outcomes and challenges from case studies in the field, examining the different types of programming engaging young people and their religious identities (inter-, intra-, and non-religious programming). A section with recommendations for incorporating gender sensitivities in religious peacebuilding follows, and the toolkits concludes with a review of practical religious considerations for designing and implementing programs. At the end of the toolkit, two appendices provide additional guidance on religious sensitivity in the program cycle and relevant resources for further reading.

We hope that sharing insights from programs in different locations and contexts will contribute to the efforts of Search and other peace practitioners to continuously improve practice in this area.

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Youth-led Research Guidance Note

Youth-led research is a powerful tool for youth empowerment and engagement, and for inquiry contributing to improved understanding of community issues. At Search for Common Ground, we have pioneered projects which put the power of research, design, and advocacy in the hands of young people.

This guidance note presents some of the lessons learned by youth-led research projects in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Burundi, and Tanzania. The intention of this document is to assist practitioners in recognizing the multiple values of youth-led research as a program approach and to identify key considerations to help guide the design and implementation of new projects.

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Final Evaluation – Jan 2017 – “Engaging Children and Youth as Partners in Preventing Violence against Children”

“Engaging Children and Youth as Partners in Preventing Violence against Children” was a regional project funded by the European Commission. It aimed at contributing to the eradication of all sorts of violence against children and youth in three border-sharing post-conflict countries of West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The external evaluation focused the effectiveness of the project and the quality of young people’s participation. It included a mixed methodology approach, with emphasis on qualitative methods. In each country, it included document review, surveys, semi-structured focus group discussions, and key informant interviews.

Youth were involved as researchers in the project and successfully conducted research which identified the worst forms of violence in the three countries and well as current approaches addressing them. Conclusions and recommendations were intended to be used broadly to influence country level programmatic and policy actions, and to mainstream findings at a societal level to enable communities to better prevent worst forms of violence. It was considered effective and useful but took place on a relatively smaller scale than planned. Unfortunately, was little to no evidence of changes of programmatic or policy actions in any of the countries, though there were evidence of project activities catalyzing significant community action projects to prevent violence against children.

A key success of the project was the active involvement of youth researchers (YRs) which ensured the implementation of activities, as well as a strong impact on the YRs themselves who grew personally and professionally. There was an adequate gender balance, and the participation was deeply meaningful to them and to the project. Many children and youth felt their voice was valued for the first time in their lives, and the project’s youth-led and participatory innovation drew attention from many stakeholders. The YRs provided credibility, commitment, and creativity that helped the project succeed despite many obstacles, including the worst Ebola Crisis in history. However, poor communication and coordination hindered the project’s success. Further, cases of vicarious trauma among the YRs was identified by the evaluation consultant who had a background in child phycology, and SFCG identified adequate actions to respond to this serious issue.

In terms of recommendations, the YRs should be well prepared emotionally and psychologically before going to the field, while in the field, and after returning from the field.

The potential risks of vicarious trauma should be assessed, identified, and addressed during the project design phase, and future proposals related to child and youth participation should be reviewed by qualified professionals with contextually relevant child and youth participation experience. Further, SFCG and primary stakeholders should increase the usage and distribution of project outputs in order to optimize the effectiveness of similar projects.​

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Title: “Promotion of Key Family Practices” Final Evaluation – Madagascar – February 2017

Search for Common Ground implemented the project “Promoting Key Family Practices through Regional Communication Strategies for Child Survival, Development, Education and Protection” between August 2014 and March 2016, funded by UNICEF and UNFPA, in Analanjirofo, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana regions of Madagascar. The project was part of the development of national communication plans aiming at promoting behavior changes in favor of children’s rights.

This final evaluation report outlines the main results of the project. Training participants increased their knowledge in communicating on the Key Family Practices. The local radios and community organizations were efficient in terms of broadcasting the different programs and more than 60 000 people were also reached through community events. Overall, 87% of the population interviewed had listened to at least one SFCG “product”. The report presents visible effects: in the education sector, the findings show that 89% of the population who listened to the messages adopted and practiced “sending children to school who were between the ages of 6 and 11 years old”. Protection aspects were also well received, as 84% adopted immediate actions to behave non-violently towards children, and 96% rejected early marriage for children younger than 18 years old. In terms of sustainability, the project allowed for the development of collaboration mechanisms between WASH, health and education sectors and the media, which will last after the end of the implementation. One of the main recommendations is to increase capacity building activities and promote skills transfer from SFCG to national official or non-governmental actors; this is now being carried out by SFCG in the framework of a new UNICEF project.

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The U.N. Security Council has given youth a tool for empowerment

Our Asia Director Michael Shipler on the #Youth4Peace movement: “Youth shouldn’t be seen as a risk, but rather as critical partners.”