In January 2012, SPARK and The Hague Academy for Local Governance, embarked on a new and exciting project, the Youth Engagement Program (YEP) in South Sudan, Burundi and the Palestinian Administered Areas.
The overall objective of the programme is to reduce instability in three fragile state environments, through improving the social-economic position of young women and men. By fostering dialogue, networking activities and capacity development in civil participation and leadership, the project aims to promote economic empowerment and participation of the youth. The programme will de developed in close cooperation with local partners in South Sudan, Burundi and the Palestinian Administered Areas.
Fragile states contain only 14% of the world population, but nearly a third of the world’s poor people. These countries have a young to very young population and youth unemployment rates are dramatically high, increasing the risk of youth to revert to social unrest and conflict. The Youth Engagement Program focuses on the social-economic position of young women and men and aspires to create an enabling environment for youth participation in the public sector, civil society and the business sector.
The programme will leave behind national networks of 3000 participating youth, 150 Leadership-programme alumni comprising of different groups of youths, a strong international network and exchange programme for youth participants, and a stronger voice of youth within different relevant networks in their country. Local partners and other stakeholders involved in the improvement of the social-economic position of young women and men will have increased their capacity to promote youth engagement, critical citizenship, leadership and entrepreneurship.
The experience and networks of SPARK and The Hague Academy complement each other perfectly well. SPARK has worked with many young, ambitious people in conflict-affected countries and has a strong track record in institutional strengthening of partners, developing employability programmes and services for youth to become successful entrepreneurs. The Hague Academy is specialised in training for capacity building in democratisation processes, peacebuilding and participation. Where The Hague Academy´s the network comes primarily from the public sector, the network of SPARK is strongly related to the private sector and educational system. This leads to a combined and inclusive approach to reach the objectives of this programme.