The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs is part of a new five-year, $60 million, USAID-funded Integrated Youth Activities (IYA) project led by Amref Health Africa to help empower young people in Ethiopia with the knowledge and skills they need to live successful lives.
The project is called Kefeta, an Amharic word which means elevate. The goal is to enable Ethiopian youth – ages 15 to 29 – to advance their own economic, civic and social development, to be resilient in the face of instability and, ultimately, prepare them to contribute to the country’s peace and prosperity.
“The youth say they are not being listened to, that we tell them ‘you are the future’ but that we don’t give them a seat at the table,” says CCP’s Etsub Neway, a social and behavior change specialist who works on Kefeta. “With this integrated youth activity, we will work directly with youth in order to give them the exact tools they need. We will leverage their energy to make change.”
Says CCP’s Tsega Berhanu, deputy chief of party in Ethiopia: “This all starts with a mindset change,” she says. “Given the opportunity, young people can lead the country to a peaceful and prosperous future. They need to be in the driver’s seat.”
People between 15 and 29 account for a third of urban population, and another third are below the age of 15. Youth unemployment is at 25 percent. Kefeta will target 2 million young people in 18 cities, building their skills and their capacity for advocacy, linking them to economic opportunities and improving their access to youth-friendly services.
CCP is part of a large consortium of international and local NGOs working on the project. Among CCP’s many goals in Ethiopia are to amplify the voices of young people through storytelling, designing and implementing a youth mobilization strategy, creating mass and social media campaigns with youth input and training in strategic communication to enable them to build campaigns from the ground up.
CCP will also work to improve the interpersonal skills for health providers and educate them about how to counsel young people about family planning and sexual and reproductive health in a youth-friendly manner.
“The Kefeta program will provide life-changing opportunities by connecting youth to services that meet their unique needs,” Amref said in announcing the award from USAID.
“Working in partnership, youths will be the co-creators, implementers, decision-makers and leaders of the program, and not merely program recipients. By building the capacity of young people and youth-serving organizations, we can expand opportunities for millions across the country – transforming their futures and with that, the future of Ethiopia.”