Improving the living conditions of disadvantaged youth in northern Cameroon

Project details

Title: Socio-economic resilience of vulnerable youth in northern Cameroon 
Commissioned by: European Commission, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Cameroon
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Youth and Civic Education (MINJEC)
Overall term: 2016 to 2019

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Context

Cameroon’s three northern regions are particularly hard hit by unemployment and poverty. While an average of 37.5 per cent of the nation’s population lives below the poverty line, the percentage in the Far North, North and Adamawa regions is twice as high in some cases. The lack of prospects particularly affects young people in the region. Many have been unable to attend school, and few have undergone vocational training.

Society is largely gerontocratic: elders dominate political and social activity. Young people are very restricted in their participation in political decision-making and in their ability to play an active role. As a consequence, they have little trust in local authorities and the state. Conversely, the public administration’s staff frequently view youth as a disruptive factor and take a sceptical stance.

Violent groups in the region are taking advantage of the socially disadvantaged position of young people and their poor economic prospects to recruit members. The Far North region has seen violent assaults and suicide attacks since 2014. In all three regions, hold-ups on country roads, including kidnappings of members of the local elite, are not uncommon. The tense security situation in the region has led to internal and, indirectly, international migration.

Objective

Peaceful co-existence and the living conditions of economically and socially disadvantaged young people (socio-economic resilience of vulnerable youth) in the three northern regions of Cameroon have improved.

Approach

The project operates in 18 partner municipalities (six municipalities in the Far North region, seven in the North region and five in the Adamawa region) and addresses the social and economic disadvantages of local youth.

The field of activity ‘Strengthening the socio-economic resilience of vulnerable youth in northern Cameroon’ focuses on the economic integration of young people. A total of 5,000 young people are being supported through cash-for-work activities, training and start-up assistance. These activities are being implemented largely by partners. To this end, the project is cooperating with reputable international and national organisations. International partners include CARE France, Plan International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (UICN) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation; Cameroonian partners include the non-governmental organisation Jeunesse Active pour la Lutte contre la Pauvreté, le VIH/SIDA et ses Souffrances (JAPSSO) and the association Actions pour la Promotion de la Santé (APROSPEN).

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The field of activity ‘Improving peaceful co-existence’ concentrates on facilitating dialogue between young people and local authorities. Training measures and organisational development are initially being used to develop the capacity of local youth organisations. In collaboration with the project and local authorities, these youth organisations are setting up dialogue forums and implementing further peacebuilding measures. Radio programmes dealing with divisive topics are also being produced and broadcast.

The project cooperates closely with municipal administrations and the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education on these activities.