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Children and young people

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Climate change, children and poverty: engaging children and youth in policy debate and action

14 Oct 2016 04:00:19 GMT

Children’s vulnerability to climate change can be understood as an intersection of three axes. The first is exposure; the extent to which children live in a physical location that is vulnerable to drought, floods, extreme weather events and sea level rise. Recent estimates by UNICEF indicate that 160 million children live in drought-prone areas, and half a billion more live in zones at risk to high floods and severe storms.

The second axis is socio-economic, with vulnerability to hazards due to a lack of resources, poverty and marginalization. Families without adequate incomes and assets, protective infrastructure and housing, access to basic services, and inadequate nutrition and clean water, face the greatest risk in a changing climate. The third axis is time, today’s children and future generations will bear the brunt of environmental impacts, creating an inter-generational injustice without precedent. All children fall somewhere along these three axes, but it is the children who live in greatest poverty and in the most exposed places that face the greatest risks. More than just passive victims, these young people, often with the support of their caregivers and communities, also represent agents of change and have consistently demonstrated the capacity to devise local solutions, participate in global conversations and contribute to a safe and sustainable future.

This brief argues that:

  • children and young people, particularly those living in poverty, are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
  • nevertheless, children and youth have shown that they can take an active role in raising awareness and creating innovative solutions
  • they must be empowered and supported to project their voice and to be part of the conversation in mitigation and adaptation planning and action
  • including the voice and needs of children at all levels of decision-making will help create a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society

Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements

14 Oct 2016 03:48:04 GMT

Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production generating the bulk of the exported minerals, and small-scale, labour-intensive artisanal mining, which, at present, is catalyzing far greater immediate primary, secondary and tertiary employment opportunities for unskilled African labourers. Youth residing in mining settlements, have a large vested interest in the current and future development of mining.

Focusing on Tanzania as typical of the emerging ‘new mineralizing Africa’, this paper, examines youth’s role in mining based on recent fieldwork in the country’s northwestern gold fields. Youth’s current involvement in mining as full-fledged, as opposed to part-time, miners is distinguished. The attitudes of secondary school students towards mining as a form of employment and its impact on economic and social life in mining communities are discussed within the context of the uneasy transitions from an agrarian to a mining-based country, from rural to urban lifestyles, and the growing scope and power of foreign-directed, capital-intensive, corporate mining relative to local labourintensive artisanal mining.

Youth, mobility and mobile phones in Africa: findings from a three-country study

14 Oct 2016 03:42:58 GMT

The expansion of mobile phone use in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly over the last five years, has been remarkable in terms of speed of adoption, spatial penetration and, not least, the fact that this is an essentially spontaneous development firmly embedded in private sector activity. Country-level adoption and usage rates suggest that, in many countries, mobile phone use, even in poor households, is rapidly becoming an everyday part of life. Much of this use is based on shared access, rather than ownership, but for millions of very poor children and young people1 the mobile phone is now perceived as an essential requisite: an object of desire and a symbol of success.

This paper we examine mobile phone use by young people across 24 sites in three countries, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa, drawing on intensive qualitative and survey research, and relate this to issues of gendered physical mobility.

Findings point to significant variations between the three study countries and between urban and rural locations within them. There is also, of course, variation within individual sites, since the circumstances of young people living in one neighbourhood can differ quite substantially, depending not only on gender and age but also on factors such as family structure and socio-economic circumstances.

Nonetheless, some trends can be discerned from this socio-spatial analysis which build on findings from earlier (often single site or single country) studies in Africa: in particular, the growing importance of phones as urban-rural connectors, enhancing resource flows and young people’s construction of network capital, and concerns about their less positive aspects, not least the potential for encouraging or supporting illicit activities such as robbery or possibly dangerous underage sexual liaisons.

The equity impact of participatory womenâ's groups to reduce neonatal mortality in India: secondary analysis of a cluster-randomised trial

14 Oct 2016 03:32:57 GMT

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been uneven. Inequalities in child health are large and effective interventions rarely reach the most in need. Little is known about how to reduce these inequalities.

This paper describes and explains the equity impact of a women’s group intervention in India that strongly reduced the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in a cluster-randomised trial. The authors conducted secondary analyses of the trial data, obtained through prospective surveillance of a population of 228 186. The intervention effects were estimated separately, through random effects logistic regression, for the most and less socio-economically marginalised groups.

Among the most marginalised, the NMR was 59% lower in intervention than in control clusters in years 2 and 3 (70%, year 3); among the less marginalised, the NMR was 36% lower (35%, year 3). The intervention effect was stronger among the most than among the less marginalised (P-value for difference = 0.028, years 2-3; P-value for difference = 0.009, year 3).

The stronger effect was concentrated in winter, particularly for early NMR. There was no effect on the use of health-care services in either group, and improvements in home care were comparable. Participatory community interventions can substantially reduce socio-economic inequalities in neonatal mortality and contribute to an equitable achievement of the unfinished MDG agenda.

New knowledge on children and young people: a synthesis of evidence

14 Oct 2016 03:22:41 GMT

Improving children and young people’s (CYP) wellbeing, and recognising the role they can play in creating a more sustainable world will be critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This timely report provides insights into how ESRC-DFID funded research has provided new knowledge that can inform and strengthen policy making in relation to CYP issues and help meet global development ambitions.

Key research findings:

  • recognising young people’s agency and the role they can play in research and policy making around the issues that matter to them most is critical
  • enhanced participation and community engagement programmes amongst the most marginalised can contribute to reduction in inequalities of new born survival rates
  • religion can have a significant impact on child wellbeing outcomes in India
  • CYP’s psychological wellbeing is positively associated with staying in school and negatively associated with entering the labour market in China. However for CYP in Tanzania there is often a clash between their perceptions of the long term gain of education and the more immediate benefits of employment
  • marriage is often viewed by both CYP and their families as a key livelihood strategy
  • young people are using mobile technologies to access services and build up social capital. They also have concerns around mobile phones and the potential negative impact on their personal safety and wellbeing

New knowledge on children and young people: a synthesis of evidence

14 Oct 2016 03:12:58 GMT

This report synthesises insights on children and young people (CYP) from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research. It identifies the major contributions the scheme has made to knowledge on CYP in low- and middle-income countries and on effective policies for promoting CYP wellbeing. It situates learning from scheme-funded research within the wider field of CYP-oriented international development research and reflects on the ways in which findings relate to contemporary
development policy agendas for CYP. The report is based on a thorough review of all available documentation and outputs related to the 126 grants funded at the start of the review period and on conversations and interviews with current grant-holders.

  • 44 grants (35% of all scheme-funded research) generated insights on children and young people. Of these two-thirds had a strong or moderate focus on CYP. Insights are diverse, with no two grants examining the same issue
  • most new knowledge has been generated on education and health, followed by livelihoods issues, transitions to marriage and sexual relationships and violence against children and young people
  • 55% of grants provide insights into the effectiveness of particular policies and programmes. Many studies address current policy dilemmas; others probe the impact of significant development trends on children and young people
  • there was a strong youth focus in these grants with 73% of grants producing knowledge on young people aged 15 and over, or on key policy issues affecting them
  • a third of research projects had achieved positive impacts on children and young people or are expected to do so



Every last girl: free to live, free to learn, free from harm

11 Oct 2016 10:21:25 GMT

More than 700 million women in the world today were married before their 18th birthday and one in three of those women was married before age 15. Child marriage can trigger a cycle of disadvantage across every part of a girl’s life.

Maternal mortality is the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15–19 years old (after suicide). An estimated 70,000 adolescent girls die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Every year 2.5 million girls under 16 give birth.

Aside from child marriage and inadequate sexual and reproductive helath care, this report highlights further barriers to girls' equality, including gender-based violence, trafficking, economic exclusion when household resources are limited and boys are prioritised, education and learning gaps, and gender issues arising from conflict and disasters.

This report identifies the three specific Guarantees to Girls that governments must make - fair finance, equal treatment and accountability - that governments must make to reach excluded children.

Meeting the need, fulfilling the promise: youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives

04 Oct 2016 12:07:53 GMT

The highest proportion of young people today - 89 percent - live in developing countries. In some sub-Saharan African countries, where fertility remains high, we can expect growing cohorts of children and youth, unless fertility needs can be met. Addressing the sexual and reproductive health of this large youth population is critical to support their universal right to health-including access to contraception-and to contribute to efforts to expand education, provide meaningful employment, and reduce poverty.
Fortunately, the importance of providing reproductive health information and services to youth is gaining worldwide attention. In 2015 the Global Consensus Statement on youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) was launched and more than 50 influential organizations and governments have signed on. The Consensus Statement says that ensuring young people’s access to LARCs will help to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, decrease unsafe abortions, and ensure full and informed contraceptive choice for youth.
This brief discusses the advantages and challenges of providing LARCs - specifically contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs) - to youth, and provides case studies from Ethiopia and Madagascar. It also outlines actions for policymakers and donors to make youth access to LARCs a reality.

Understanding teenage fertility, cohabitation, and marriage: the case of Peru

29 Sep 2016 10:19:14 GMT

In this study, the authors used data from the Young Lives study, which investigates teenage childbearing, marriage, and cohabitation by tracking a cohort of individuals from the ages of 8 to 19 years. While the present analysis does not intend to establish causality, the longitudinal nature of the data allows us to identify the combination of early circumstances and life changes that induce a higher likelihood of these events. The analysis addresses bias due both to reverse causality and to community characteristics that are usually unobserved and fixed over time, a strategy that is quite unique in studies of developing countries.
About 1 out of 5 females (and 1 out of 20 males) in the sample here had at least one child by the age of 19, and 80 percent of them were married or cohabiting. Early marriage/cohabitation is indeed intrinsically related to early pregnancy and largely predicted by the same factors. For females specifically, girls from poor households with an absent parent for a prolonged period have a higher risk of early childbearing. Similarly, girls whose self-efficacy and educational aspirations decrease over time are more at risk of becoming a mother during adolescence. Conversely, school attendance and better school performance predict a lower risk of early pregnancy; our analysis suggests that this is largely because it postpones the first sexual relationship.

Balancing school and work with new opportunities: changes in children’s gendered time use in Ethiopia (2006-2013)

29 Sep 2016 10:04:26 GMT

Focusing on the relationship between children’s work and school attendance, this paper explores time use trends among boys and girls in Ethiopia. It does this by comparing the time use of two cohorts of children at the same age, 12 years, but interviewed at two different points in time, 2006 and 2013.

In assessing the pattern over this period the authors have taken four contributory factors into account; gendered norms and aspirations for children’s futures; local opportunities for both schooling and work; the characteristics of schools and different kinds of work; and intra-household dynamics.

Broad trends are identified through survey data and case studies of two rural communities that have experienced rapid economic and social transformation, with associated increases in gendered opportunities for work. 

The paper finds that overall there is a small reduction in the hours worked by 12-year-olds over the seven years.
However, this trend is mainly in urban areas. Rural boys are found to have increased their working hours. By examining two case-study communities that have experienced increasing economic development and gendered work opportunities the research finds that, contrary to expectations, the increased returns to work have lowered boys’ education aspirations and increased their school drop-out rates relative to girls’.

Between hope and a hard place: boys and young men negotiating gender, poverty and social worth in Ethiopia

29 Sep 2016 09:58:54 GMT

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on adolescence as a key transition to adulthood. Young people are navigating puberty and making life choices around schooling, work, and intimate and family relationships. However, much of the attention has been on girls. This has led to a lack of gendered analysis and has also meant that adolescent boys have been largely left out of the picture.

This paper uses Young Lives research in Ethiopia, carried out over multiple years, to look at boys and young men’s lives, their aspirations, and the obstacles they face as they grow into adults. It examines the diverse strategies they employ to overcome these challenges, and compares their experiences with those of girls and young women of the same age.

  • Education is seen by both parents and children as a route out of poverty.  95 per cent of Young Lives boys and girls were enrolled in school at the age of 12. By age 19, there was a growing ambivalence regarding education, particularly for young men who increasingly oriented their aspirations towards the world of work.
  • Rural/urban contrasts: Young people growing up in rural areas are often seen as having fewer life chances than those in towns. But the least optimistic young men were located in urban areas where they felt disconnected from development opportunities.
  • Livelihoods: Many of the young men had left school and were trying to find work, both as a response to poverty and a vital source of respect in the community. But because they found so few opportunities for gainful employment, some of them were left feeling stuck and hopeless.
  • Marriage Girls: see marriage as one way of improving their lives. But for young men, marriage was impossible until they had adequately paid work, and was therefore a way of entering into adulthood that they could not imagine in the near future.

The paper concludes by drawing out the policy implications of our findings. It calls for stronger gendered evidence on the relationship between gender inequality and childhood poverty, and an approach to gender justice that include boys and young men, as well as girls and young women, so that none are left trapped between hope and a hard place.

[Summary from Younf Lives]

Temperature variability and occurrence of diarrhoea in children under five-years-old in Cape Town Metropolitan sub-districts

23 Sep 2016 03:37:43 GMT

Diarrhoea is among the main causes of morbidity and mortality in children within the developing world. According to the (2007) Intergovernmen al Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, there is an expected increase in the global annual average temperature by 2100, which could result in increased temperatures and rainfall in many areas of the globe, causing significant temperature variability in the future. It was reported that with a change in climatic parameters such as average temperatures and rainfall, the rate of certain health conditions i.e., thermal stress and infectious diseases increases. It is worth noting that children under five years old are susceptible to the problem of climate-sensitive diseases with estimates ranging from 10% to 20% of populations in areas with limited capacity to manage the health impact of climate change. Increasing evidence has emphasized the seasonal relationship between the peak of diarrhoea occurrence and climatic factors such as the rainy season and high temperatures in developing countries. The link existing between climate parameters and diarrhoeal disease can be expected to fluctuate with different causal agents such as rotavirus, norovirus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and pathogenic Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.

This paper describes the relationship between temperature change and diarrhoea in under five-year-old children in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area (CTMA) of South Africa. The study used climatic and aggregated surveillance diarrhoea incidence data of two peak periods of seven months each over two consecutive years. A Poisson regression model and a lagged Poisson model with autocorrelation was performed to test the relationship between climatic parameters (minimum and maximum temperature) and incidence of diarrhoea.

The paper concludes that there was an association between an increase in minimum and maximum temperature, and the rate at which diarrhoea affected children under the age of five years old in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area. This finding may have implications for the effects of global warming and requires further investigation.

Agriculture, nutrition and the green revolution in Bangladesh

20 Sep 2016 04:31:47 GMT

This paper explores agriculture and nutrition linkages in Bangladesh, a country that achieved rapid growth in rice productivity at a relatively late stage in Asia's Green Revolution, as well as unheralded progress against undernutrition. To do so, the authors first outline a simple conceptual model to identify the different impacts that productivity growth in a food staple(s) might have on child nutrition outcomes, with a particular focus on changes in diets at the household and child level.

The authors then apply this framework to a descriptive overview of the evolution of Bangladesh's food system in recent decades. We show that this evolution is characterized rapid growth in yields and calorie availability, but relatively sluggish diversification in both food production and consumption, despite increasing reliance on imports for dietary diversification. Next, they create a multi-round district level panel that links changes in nutrition survey data with agricultural sample survey data over 1996–2011, a period in which rice yields rose by more than 70%.

The paper then uses this panel to more rigorously test for associations between yield growth and various anthropometric and child feeding indicators. Consistent with our descriptive evidence on dietary changes, we find that rice yields predict the earlier introduction of  complementary foods to young children (most frequently rice) as well as increases in their weight-for-height, but no improvements in their dietary diversity or height-for-age.

Since Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child wasting in the world, these significant associations between yields and child weight gain are encouraging, but the lack of discernible effects on children's dietary diversity or linear growth is cause for concern. Indeed, it suggests that further nutritional impacts will require diversifying the Bangladeshi food basket through both supply and demand-side interventions.


The dynamics of youth radicalisation in Africa: reviewing the current evidence

20 Sep 2016 04:09:48 GMT

Youth radicalisation towards violent extremism is a global phenomenon that threatens peace, security and stability. This paper reviews the evidence on the factors that may contribute to the dynamics of youth radicalisation in Africa. 

Available findings from East Africa and the Horn of Africa, West Africa and the Sahel, and North Africa are used to understand the dynamics that may contribute to radicalisation and, potentially, to violent extremism. Many factors emerge including political, economic, social and individual factors. Religion, identity and gender also arise as topics for further analysis.

Youth radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that cannot be attributed to any one explanation or set of factors. This paper recognises these complexities, offers recommendations and identities additional issues that should be explored further.

Uprooted: the growing crisis for refugee and migrant children

08 Sep 2016 10:19:42 GMT

Around the world, nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced. This report presents comprehensive, global data about these children - where they are born, where they move and some of the dangers they face along the way. The report sheds light on the truly global nature of childhood migration and displacement, highlighting challenges faced by child migrants and refugees in every region.Based on the findings of the report and its work in the field, UNICEF has developed six goals and practical suggestions to protect child migrants and refugees and provide them with hope for the future: protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence - introduce measures to strengthen child protection systems, including the training of social and child workers and working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professional groups. Clamp down on trafficking  through enhanced law enforcement, and the systematic appointment of qualified guardians; better access to information regarding the management of their cases and access to legal assistance. Governments should also develop clearer guidance for case officers when determining the migration status of children, to prevent the return of children and families to persecution, dangerous or life-threatening situationsend the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating - introduce practical alternatives to detention wherever children (or their families) are involved, given the negative impact of detention on a child’s development. Examples of alternatives to detention include: the surrender of passport and regular reporting requirements; guarantors or bailees who may be family members or community supporters; foster care and supervised independent living for unaccompanied and separated children; and compulsory registration with authoritieskeep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status - develop clear policy guidance to keep children from being separated from their parents during border control processing and any migrant legal processes. States should speed-up procedures and make it easier for children to reunite with their families, including with their extended families in destination countries. Children born to migrant parents need legal identity for their future wellbeing. Governments should provide birth registration and/or other identity documents to enable children to access services and avoid statelessnesskeep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services - an increased collective effort by governments, communities and the private sector is needed to provide education, health, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, and access to legal and psychosocial support to these children. This is not only a collective responsibility, it is in all societies’ common interests. A child’s migration status should never represent a barrier to accessing essential servicespress for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants - address the root causes of conflict, violence and extreme poverty in countries of origin. This should include increasing access to education and social protection; expanding opportunities for family income and youth employment; and fostering more accountable and transparent governance. Governments should facilitate community dialogue and engagement towards peaceful conflict resolution, tolerance and a more inclusive society; and should take measures against gang violencepromote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in [...]

Protecting women’s and children’s health from a changing climate

23 Aug 2016 12:34:52 GMT

Climate change increases challenges to women'€™s and children'€™s health. There is more likelihood of women and children suffering and dying from problems such as diarrhoea, undernutrition, malaria, and from the harmful effects of extreme weather events, including floods or drought. While women and children in developing countries have made comparatively small contributions to historical carbon emissions, they bear the brunt of the health effects of climate change, both now and in the future. Efforts to prevent, mitigate and address the effects of climate change should include integrated action across sectors to address these health inequities now and for future generations.

Climate change will have a substantial impact on the health and survival of future generations. Policies that act now to improve health can also reduce climate change. Such co-benefits can be achieved when coordinated action is taken across the health, transport, energy, education and agriculture sectors. Policies that address broader health and climate protection can also work to reduce the significant economic losses from damages to health and the environment.

Child centred community resiliance: final evaluation of the Bangladesh Child Resilience Project

23 Aug 2016 01:28:41 GMT

For communities at risk from shocks, stresses and uncertainty, building resilience is an essential yet challenging development process. It r equires working on multiple fronts to: reduce people's exposure and vulnerability; build their capacity to adapt; and transform systems to create an enabling environment for people to realise their rights.

Save the Children International (SCI) has been work ing in Bangladesh over the past three years; supporting girls and boys, their families, schools and local communities -€“ in 36 rural and urban communities -€“ to build their capabilities to adapt, prepare, and respond to disasters, climate change and sexual and gender based violence. Using a child -centred approach to design and implement Child Resilience Project, SCI along with its partners SEEP and Uttaran directly supported 14,076 girls, boys, women and men to build their resilience.

This report is the culmination of desk- and field-based work to evaluate the relevance, impact, effectiveness, participation and sustainability of the project. The author consulted over 120 internal and external documents, and the evaluation team engaged directly with 235 girls, boys, women and men using participatory approaches to gather the re levant qualitative and quantitative information. This report finds overall that the project has achi eved a good level of success across the five key areas of enquiry. It is relevant at all levels from community to national. It has demonstrated impact by increasing the knowledge, skills and resilience of project beneficiaries in schools and the community; as well as partner staff, and to some extent government. It has used approaches that are participatory, child-centred, inclusive and suited to the context; and these have been effective. In particular, the participatory, child-centred approa ch to community development, which recognises existing expertise in children, their families and the community, has contributed to the overall goal of building resilience and has been a strength of the project. The project has provided a good foundation for the continuation of project gains and longer te rm sustainability through different measures, including: enhanced capacities of children, school staff, community members and partners; increased local ownership of project interventions; and resources to support learning and action to date.

However, not all aspects of the project have worked optimally. The project may have been more relevant if it had discussed key interventions areas with government authorities during the design phase, to confirm the best use of resources. It may have had greater impact if it had undertaken more on-the-ground disaster mitigation actions and adapt ation activities to allow communities put into practice knowledge learned. It may have been more e ffective if it had used a theory of change to check the linkages between inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impact. And it may have better supported the continuation of project gains if it had partnered with government authorities, as well as worked at a policy level to advocate for a great er allocation of government resources for community-based risk reduction.

Case study: child centered climate change adaptation (4CA) in the Pacific Islands

18 Aug 2016 11:31:46 GMT

The ‘Child-Centered Climate Change Adaptation (4CA)’ Program supported communities in six Pacific Island Countries to adapt to the risks and challenges of climate change. The program’s focus, unique to the region, fostered the capacity of children and young people in building resilience. Part of awider initiative by Plan International (PIA), an international child rights organization, 4CA aimed to address the urgent threat posed by climate change to children’s survival, development and protection.Between 2011 and 2015, the programwas delivered by a network of civil society organizations working under the umbrella of Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI).

The 4CA program has been highlighted by Equity for Children as one of the few significant initiatives by international child rights organizations to put young people at the centre of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. While most recognize the growing threat of climate change to children’s wellbeing, efforts to create child-sensitive approaches and programs have been limited.

In addition, 4CA’s targeting of the most vulnerable children and communities, and empowering them through information and resources, provides a model grounded in equity and rights.

Does less engaged mean less empowered? Political participation lags among African youth, especially women

18 Aug 2016 03:34:19 GMT

The African Union (AU) Assembly declared 2009 - 2018 the "African Youth Decade" and released an action plan to promote youth empowerment and development throughout the continent, including by raising young citizens' representation and participation in political processes. The latest results from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 countries reveal a wide gap between the aspirations set forth in the AU policy framework and the reality of youth political engagement in Africa today. The data show that African governments and development partners have considerable work to do to achieve the goal of increased civic and political participation among youth, particularly young women. African youth (aged 18-35) report lower rates of political engagement than their elders across a variety of indicators, including voting in national elections. Young citizens are also less likely to engage in civic activities such as attending community meetings and joining others to raise an issue. While these findings are consistent with research on age differences in voter turnout in advanced democracies, the survey further finds that youth engagement levels have declined over time despite the introduction of regional and national youth empowerment policies. Key findings:political engagement is generally lower among African youth than among their elders, particularly in terms of voting. Two-thirds (65%) of 18- to 35–year-old respondents who were old enough to vote in the last national election say they did so, compared to 79% of citizens above age 35slightly more than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs, while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally.” Compared to their male counterparts, young women report significantly less interest (48% vs. 60%) and discussion (61% vs. 74%)attendance at campaign rallies is the most popular form of pre-electoral engagement among young Africans: One-third (33%) say they attended at least one in the previous year, compared to 37% of older citizens. The gender gap in participation in rallies averages 10 percentage points and is largest in East Africa (14 points) and West Africa (13 points)African youth are less likely than their elders to participate in civic activities: Less than half (47%) of 18- to 35–year-olds say they attended community meetings at least once during the previous year, while 40% joined others to raise an issue (vs. 57% and 47% for older citizens). Young women’s participation also lags behind that of their male peers on these measures of civic activism (by 9 percentage points, on average), particularly in West Africa and North Africa (both by 14 percentage points)not quite half (48%) of youth say they contacted political or community leaders during the previous year to discuss an important issue, with lower reported engagement levels among young women than men (43% vs. 53%)youth participation in demonstrations and protest marches is lower than in more conventional forms of civic and political engagement, but higher than among their elders: 11% of young survey respondents say they attended at least one protest in the previous year (vs. 8% older citizens). Again, women report lower participation levels than their male peers (8% vs. 13%)comparison over time in 16 countries shows that youth engagement levels have declined since 2005/2006 across most of these indicators, particularly interest in public affairs and measures of civic activism (both by 9 percentage points)[...]

Children’s mobility in Ghana: An overview of methods and findings from the Ghana research study

12 Aug 2016 12:54:32 GMT

This paper is part of a collection forming A Special Issue, which covers selected themes from a larger project on child mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. The themes are those which individual members of the Ghana research team identified as of particular interest and on which they have reflected, drawing on material collected and analysed by the team as a whole. In this paper the authors take a broader view, first presenting the background history and context of the three-country study in which the Ghana research is set (country selection, project design and methods), then focusing on the research process in Ghana. 

The two research strands pursued in the study present different entry points through which we can explore children’s mobility and access to services. One strand comprises relatively conventional academic research: the first part of this is qualitative (in-depth interviews with children, parents and other key informants; focus groups; life histories; accompanied walks), the second part consists of a large-scale quantitative questionnaire survey directed at children aged c. 9-18 years (N= 1000). The second main research strand, less conventionally, is based in young people’s own research, in which (following some preliminary training) they have selected their research methods and directly undertaken research with their peers. Findings from this second strand, which was undertaken at a relatively early stage in the project, by young people aged between about 11 and 20 years, also helped shape questions in the adult academic qualitative and quantitative elements.

Key findings from the project include:

  • Mobility constraints interacting with heavy work demands place a particularly strong constraint on rural girls’ education. Distance from school, when coupled with a heavy workload at home, affects school attendance, punctuality and performance.
  • Inter-generational frictions around access to resources, youth sexuality, mobility and adult surveillance are widely in evidence in the qualitative data, though the way these play out varies with family and local context.
  • There has been remarkably little recognition of children’s contributions to filling Africa’s transport gap. Qualitative data emphasizes the scale of children’s load carrying in Ghana and suggests the particularly important role of girls as load carriers.
  • Physical access presents a major barrier to health service use for children. In Ghana over one-third reported that travel costs/difficulties had prevented them seeking healthcare in the preceding year. 

A Moving Issue: Children and young people’s transport and mobility constraints in Africa

12 Aug 2016 01:07:23 GMT

Children and young people are rarely at the forefront of transport studies, despite the fact that their ability to access health and educational facilities is crucial to the achievement of internatioanl development goals. To address this knowledge gap a collaborative research project gathered evidence of the specific mobility constraints experienced by children in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa as they attempt to access the facilities and services that are important to their lives. The project explored the travel challenges thaty children face through their own eyes alongside traditional adult-led research methods. It looked at their access to health, education and other services, at the lack of direct information on how mobility constraints impact on children's current and future livelihood opportunities, and at the lack of available guidelines on how to tackle them. This issue of Forum News highlights the key findings of the project, shares relevant resources and asks where do we go from here?

Adolescent girls in Egypt

14 Jul 2016 02:09:20 GMT

Girls under age 20—around 19 million of them—make up one-fifth of Egypt’s population.1 In 2015, about 8 million of these girls were adolescents between ages 10 and 19. According to the latest projections from the United Nations (UN) Population Division, this group will grow to 11.5 million in 2030—a 44 percent increase in 15 years. Improving the lives of adolescent girls in Egypt requires a national response that cuts across development sectors and programs. Such a response is necessary because of the girls’ demographic significance, and more importantly because they are vulnerable to harmful practices such as female genital cutting (FGC) and early marriage that violate girls’ rights and hinder the country’s development.

This policy brief presents the latest data on girls’ education, early marriage, and FGC in Egypt, to illustrate improvements in the situation of adolescent girls as well as the gaps. It points to Egypt’s rapid population growth and wide socioeconomic inequalities as major challenges hindering efforts to improve girls’ lives. It calls for coordinated, national efforts to implement recently adopted policies to uphold girls’ rights and bring about change. Lifting girls up, by empowering them to reach their full potential, will also help lift the Egyptian nation.

Climate change, children and poverty: engaging children and youth in policy debate and action

28 Jun 2016 12:44:01 GMT

Children’s vulnerability to climate change can be understood as an intersection of three axes. The first is exposure; the extent to which children live in a physical location that is vulnerable to drought, floods, extreme weather events and sea level rise. Recent estimates by UNICEF indicate that 160 million children live in drought-prone areas, and half a billion more live in zones at risk to high floods and severe storms.

The second axis is socio-economic, with vulnerability to hazards due to a lack of resources, poverty and
marginalization. Families without adequate incomes and assets, protective infrastructure and housing, access to basic services, and inadequate nutrition and clean water, face the greatest risk in a changing climate.
The third axis is time, today’s children and future generations will bear the brunt of environmental impacts, creating an inter-generational injustice without precedent. All children fall somewhere along these three axes, but it is the children who live in greatest poverty and in the most exposed places that face the greatest risks. More than just passive victims, these young people, often with the support of their caregivers and communities, also represent agents of change and have consistently demonstrated the capacity to devise local solutions, participate in global conversations and contribute to a safe and sustainable future.
This brief argues that:
  • children and young people, particularly those living in poverty, are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
  • nevertheless, children and youth have shown that they can take an active role in raising awareness and creating innovative solutions
  • they must be empowered and supported to project their voice and to be part of the conversation in mitigation and adaptation planning and action
  • including the voice and needs of children at all levels of decision-making will help create a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society

The state of the World's children 2016: a fair chance for every child

28 Jun 2016 03:17:09 GMT

Every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. Yet, around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born. The State of the World’s Children 2016 argues that progress for the most disadvantaged children is not only a moral, but also a strategic imperative. Stakeholders have a clear choice to make: invest in accelerated progress for the children being left behind, or face the consequences of a far more divided world by 2030.

The report begins with the most glaring inequity of all – disparities in child survival – and goes on to explore the underlying determinants of preventable child mortality. It argues that to meet the 2030 child survival target, we must urgently address persistent disparities in maternal health, the availability of  skilled birth attendants, adequate nutrition and access to basic services, as well as other factors such as discrimination, exclusion and a lack of knowledge about child feeding and the role of safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene in preventing childhood disease.

The discussion continues with a look at one of the most effective drivers of development and the greatest equalizer of opportunity: education. Without quality education, disadvantaged children are far more likely to be trapped as adults in low-skilled, poorly paid and insecure employment, preventing them from breaking intergenerational cycles of disadvantage. But a greater focus on early childhood development, on increasing education access and quality, and on providing education in emergencies will yield cascading benefits for both this generation and the next.

Having discussed two of the most glaring deprivations children face, this report then examines child poverty in all its dimensions – and the role social protection programmes play in reducing it. Arguing that child poverty is about more than income, it presents a case for combining measures to reduce income poverty with integrated solutions to the many deprivations experienced by children living in poverty.

Finally, as a call to action, the report concludes with a set of principles to guide more equity-focused policy, planning and public spending. These broad principles include expanding information about who is being left behind and why; improving integration to tackle the multiple dimensions of deprivation; fostering and fuelling Innovation to reach the hardest-to-reach children; increasing investment in equity-focused programmes; and driving involvement by communities and citizens around the world.



Gender matters: overcoming gender-related barriers to prevent new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive

24 Jun 2016 12:30:51 GMT

Studies indicate that harmful gender norms and practices, cultural perceptions and beliefs surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, and a distrust of health-care services all can pose barriers to HIV prevention and treatment. In particular, women face difficulties related to unequal gender power relations and stigma.

This Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) document presents evidence that timely and continued access to antiretroviral medicines would reduce new infections in children and give HIV-infected women access to HIV treatment and care for their own health and well-being. Because 1) women's lack of autonomy, 2) mistrust of health services, particularly due to a lack of cultural sensitivity and confidentiality among health-service providers, and 3) fear of stigma and related abuse can affect women's access to treatment, key gender-related barriers stand in the way of preventing new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive.

The following recommendations, based upon discussions in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Uganda, are proposed to overcome gender-related and cultural barriers to services.

  • address stigma and discrimination against women living with HIV to increase utilization of and adherence to services", by, for example, building awareness and sensitivity in communities, including through the use of local media and local language(s), and engaging community leaders at all levels, including religious leaders, in dialogue on stigma
  • address violence against women as part of programmes to prevent new HIV infections among children and keep mothers alive and healthy", by integrating services for survivors of violence in all health-care settings and training health services to work in a non-judgmental manner with the complexities around violence against women and the underlying gender inequalities, using confidentiality and promoting the right to respect
  • support transformation of traditional gender roles related to maternal health, providing correct information on HIV by using culturally-appropriate, gender-sensitive and rights-based approaches" by, for example, creating opportunities for voluntary attendance, counselling, and testing for couples
  • address lack of awareness and mistrust of existing services to prevent new HIV infections among children and keep mothers alive and healthy", by, for example, reaching communities, beyond individual clients and healthcare providers, as part of "decentralized approaches and awareness campaigns. For consistency in messaging and the effective use of expertise, both women living with HIV and traditional birth attendants must be engaged in community mobilization efforts

Wize Up - Your Decision Your Life Booklet

24 Jun 2016 11:16:56 GMT

This booklet was produced as part of the Wize up, Your Decision Your Life campaign in Swaziland, which challenges young people to take control of their health and start thinking and talking about their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) (see Related Summaries below for more information on the campaign).

Produced by Lusweti Institute for Health Development Communication, the booklet is designed for young people but can also be used by parents, teachers, young people, and health and community workers. It seeks to help young people understand the physical and emotional changes that happen to their bodies as they grow up and offers guidance on how to handle them. It encourages abstinence and delaying sex, offers information on sexual abuse and how do deal with it, and gives information on how to protect oneself from unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It also deals with the sexual and reproductive rights of disabled people and offers guidance on how to communicate to parents about sexual issues.

The booklet contains the following sections:

  • Sex and sexuality
  • Physical and emotional changes of growing up
  • Preventing sexual abuse
  • Delaying to have sex
  • Benefits of delaying to have sex
  • Disability and SRH
  • SRH rights for disabled people?
  • Protecting yourself from unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection and STIs
  • Sexual abuse - Mandisa's story
  • Understanding sexual abuse
  • Talking to your parents about sexual issues
  • Know your SRH rights
  • Contact information for SRH services

Case studies on UNICEF programming in child protection

24 Jun 2016 03:29:31 GMT

These case studies illustrate how UNICEF support is helping countries to strengthen child protection systems and promote social change to align social norms and practices with child protection. The case studies provide evidence of positive results from diverse initiatives in nine countries. They cover:

  • improving access to legal aid, counselling and basic services for children in conflict with the law in Afghanistan
  • raising rates of birth registration in Brazil by partnering with hospitals and using technology
  • empowering adolescents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through discussion groups, resulting in community engagement in combatting sexual violence
  • reducing corporal punishment in Jordan’s schools and encouraging teachers to adopt non-violent disciplinary methods
  • offering prevention, referral and protection services for children at risk of or suffering from violence, exploitation, abuse or neglect in Kenya
  • supporting community collaboration to curtail female genital mutilation/cutting in Senegal
  • developing child-friendly police units to handle child victims and perpetrators of criminal activity in the Sudan
  • strengthening child protection systems in Indonesia and Malawi

What ails the young? Insights into Africa’s youth from the African Peer Review Mechanism

24 Jun 2016 02:42:21 GMT

Africa is a young continent, with a median age of some 19.3 years and 75% of its population aged 35 or younger. As the continent has long recognised – and as the so-called Arab Spring has confirmed – this large youth population presents many complex and important strategic challenges that must be met. For this reason, African’s continental bodies have on several occasions committed themselves to fostering the wellbeing and development of the youth, most notably through the African Youth Charter, adopted in 2006.

Examining the state of Africa’s youth primarily through the lens of the reports compiled through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) – Africa’s innovative governance assessment system – this paper discusses two primary sets of challenges. The first of these is the state of education and training. The standard of education offered to Africa’s youth, as well as the choice of subjects they follow, is not adequately preparing them for entry into the workforce. Students need to be better prepared, and more opportunities should be created for them to study scientific and technological fields.

The second is poverty and unemployment – the socio-economic exclusion of Africa’s youth. An issue intimately bound to concerns about education and skills, many young people are unable to secure opportunities that make social mobility possible and provide an outlet for their energies. This underemployment creates fertile ground for drug abuse, gangsterism and participation in political conflict.

Attempting to address these problems, African countries have implemented a range of interventions to extend opportunities to the youth and integrate them into their socioeconomic life. Perhaps more importantly, Africa’s youth have responded to their challenges. Sometimes this takes the form of anti-social behaviour. In other instances, they have responded with considerable resourcefulness. Africa’s youth  display a great attraction to entrepreneurship, and have become involved in activism to challenge perceived injustices.
Properly harnessed, these are great assets for the future.

The paper concludes with recommendations for policy proposals that recognise the limitations of Africa’s states and seek partnerships with non-governmental bodies. Dealing with youth challenges is simply too large for African states to handle alone. Youth activism should be
welcomed, but not uncritically. Above all, steering youthful energies into entrepreneurship and economic activities must be a priority.

Using entertainment education to promote self-efficacy and aspirations among young Malawians: the Tisankhenji Radio Program

24 Jun 2016 01:48:10 GMT

The Tisankhenji radio programme (see Related Summaries at bottom of page) aired from 2005 to 2008 and was designed to prevent HIV among young people in Malawi, especially girls age 10 to 14, by increasing self-efficacy, encouraging open discussion, promoting career goals, and encouraging aspirations for education and careers.

This document is peer reviewed case study of the radio programme. According to the report, schools are important intervention sites for both girls and boys as they reach young people before or shortly after sexual debut. Keeping girls in school also reduces their vulnerability to HIV. Encouraging girls to have education and career aspirations both gives them motivation to protect themselves from HIV and early pregnancy, and encourages them to stay in school. The Tisankhenji radio programme used entertainment-education (EE) to model desirable behaviours about having future goals and encourage discussion among girls and between girls and elders. The programme was designed primarily for girls, with boys, teachers, and parents as secondary audiences.

The report concludes that EE is "a potentially effective, creative approach to promoting educational aspirations and achievement motivations, which may be helpful in fighting HIV." The authors recommend continued development of EE programmes that focus on young girls' needs, desires, and dreams. "Focusing on positive outcomes will enable them to plan for, and make progress toward, a future where HIV rates among young girls are diminished." The report also re-iterates that school-based initiatives can have the multiple advantages of accessing young people early in their lives, providing structured yet creative approaches, and encouraging girls to stay in school, and recommends more school-based programming.

Access, Services and Knowledge (ASK) Programme - essential packages manual

23 Jun 2016 11:53:46 GMT

The Essential Packages Manual was produced as part of the "Access, Services and Knowledge" (ASK) programme of the Youth Empowerment Alliance, which seeks to improve the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of young people (15-24 years) by increasing their uptake of SRH services in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

The manual is designed to help partners understand the main concepts, principles, and values of the ASK programme, and provides information and practical tools designed to assist partners to reach programme objectives. This includes information about SRHR and related services for young people, as well as guidance in creating an enabling environment and integrating SRHR, HIV/AIDS, and meaningful youth participation into programming.

The publication includes tools for self-assessment to help identify partners’ own progress and areas requiring support. It also includes roadmaps with practical steps to move towards desired project results, and outlines available tools, guidelines, protocols, and standards.

The manual includes the following contents, organised around key result areas:

  • Values and Principles
  • Result area 1: Direct SRHR information for young people
  • Result area 2 & 3: SRH services for young people
  • Result area 4: Creating an enabling environment
  • Cross-Cutting Strategies: Integrating SRHR and HIV, meaningful youth participation

Empowering each other: young people who sell sex in Ethiopia

23 Jun 2016 11:31:28 GMT

This 12-page case study discusses the experience of a peer education project in Ethiopia, which trained young people who sell sex to reach out to their peers and lead sexual and reproductive health and rights sessions, supported by trained nurses and a referral system for services. The project was led by the Organisation for Support Services for AIDS (OSSA) as part of Link Up, a five-country programme working to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of one million young people most affected by HIV in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Uganda. The Ethiopian initiative was created to fill both knowledge and service gaps to ensure that young people who sell sex have access to both adequate information and services about their SRHR in order to stay healthy.The case study outlines a number of challenges faced by the peer educators and nurse counsellors. This includes group dynamics in which some groups did not bond and in other cases group members did not always respect their peer educator. Group members also sometimes requested additional refreshments (beyond the coffee and bread already provided) to come to sessions. In addition, the priorities of young people who sell sex are often not SRHR-related, but rather the need to provide housing, food, and clothing for themselves and their families, plus the need to attend school or start a business.The case study offers a number of lessons learned:Role of peer educators -“ Peer educators speak the same language as their peers, are good at facilitating conversation, can answer questions clearly, and talk openly about sensitive issues. They play an important role in identifying session participants as well as setting appropriate times and locations for sessions. They are often seen as role models by their peers"Role of nurse counsellors - "The nurse counsellors are critical to this intervention. They provide peer educators with support, enhance their knowledge and instil confidence in them. Nurse counsellors provide a critical service by assisting young people who sell sex to health facilities"Locations and times of peer education sessions - “It is important to hold sessions at times convenient to, and agreed by, group members otherwise this may become a barrier to participation"SRHR and HIV must be integrated - “During the project, a significant number of young people who sell sex reported experiences of unplanned pregnancy and STIs as well as living with HIV. These stories remind us of the importance of integrating SRHR and HIV information and services. This means addressing a range of SRHR and HIV issues in the peer education sessions and ensuring that information, education and communication materials speak about dual protection and the use of condoms for protecting against both pregnancy and HIV and other STIs. It also means ensuring young people who sell sex know they can access a range of services at health facilities"Recognising the priorities of young people who sell sex - “It is important to recognise that young people who sell sex may share a range of experiences and needs during peer education sessions including the need for housing, food, employment opportunities and education plus psychosocial support to respond to violence,[...]

Breaking down barriers: empowering young people living with HIV in Uganda

23 Jun 2016 11:18:54 GMT

"Link Up’s experience in Uganda demonstrates the success empowered young people living with HIV can have in achieving greater access to SRHR and HIV services for their peers. Building a strong team of peer educators who were visible and proud of their work proved the foundation for service provision in the project.”

This is a key outcome outlined in this 16-page case study discussing the experience of the Link Up Project in Uganda, which was designed to increase access to integrated and quality sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV information, as well as commodities and services, for young people living with and most affected by HIV. Between October 2013 and March 2015 the Link Up Project used peer educators, along with improving youth-friendly health services, to address barriers facing young people in accessing reproductive health services, such as lack of knowledge, skills, and youth-friendly services.

The case study first explains the context of the programme and then goes on to describe the main component of the programme - the use of peer educators.

According to the case study, through the project young people who are normally hard-to-reach were brought closer to SRHR and HIV services, and many were referred for antiretroviral therapy enrolment. Between 2013 and 2015 the project:

  • "Reached 5980 young people living with HIV with SRHR information, counselling and services in their own communities
  • Reached 3794 young people living with HIV with SRHR information, counselling and services in health facilities and through clinical outreach
  • Made 224 completed referrals of young people living with HIV to health facilities"

Strengthening linkages between clinical and social services for children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence: a companion guide

23 Jun 2016 11:06:58 GMT

This guidebook intends to provide a basic framework, examples, resources, and contact information for health providers and managers who coordinate service provision for child victims of sexual violence and who ultimately work to ensure that children and adolescents receive the services they need. The resource is premised on the observation that such violence is a global human rights violation with severe immediate and long-term health and social consequences. It serves as a companion guide to the 2012 Clinical Management of Children and Adolescents Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence: Technical Considerations for PEPFAR Programs, which provides step-by-step guidance on the appropriate clinical/forensic care for children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence and exploitation. The companion guide helps health providers and managers to better understand and facilitate linkages with critical social and community services for comprehensive care of children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence and exploitation beyond the clinical exam, take additional steps to help children and adolescents receive information and support their needs, and contribute to changes in sociocultural norms that perpetuate a culture of violence and silence that can also increase HIV risk and vulnerability.

For example, the role of communication is an integrated, multisectoral response is highlighted in a box within the document that characterises children and adolescents with disabilities as among the most vulnerable, because they "are systematically denied basic information about sexual health and relationships, including sexual violence. They may be in isolated settings away from neighbors, extended family, or local community members who could play a role in identifying abuse. Staff at disability-specific organizations may lack training in recognizing ACEs [adverse childhood experiences], including sexual violence, and thus miss signs of abuse of their clients. Those services that do exist are likely not able to provide disability-specific services, due to physical barriers to access or lack of providers who are trained to work with children/adolescents with disabilities. Access to justice is routinely denied....(they are not considered credible witnesses, and/or their cases are not taken seriously, and/or the court system lacks appropriate services)."

One youth can: facilitator's guide and workbook

23 Jun 2016 10:39:14 GMT

South Africa has amongst the highest levels of domestic violence and rape of any country in the world. Research conducted by the Medical Research Council in 2004 shows that every six hours, a woman is killed by her intimate partner. This is the highest rate recorded anywhere in the world.

This Manual is intended to be a resource for those working with youth on issues of citizenship, human rights, gender, health, sexuality and violence. The content is informed by a commitment to social justice, gender equality and engaged citizen activism. The activities encourage all youth to reflect on their own experiences, attitudes and values regarding sexuality; gender; what it means to be a boy/man or girl/woman; domestic and sexual violence; HIV/AIDS, democracy and human rights. They encourage all youth to take action to help prevent domestic and sexual violence, reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS, and promote gender equality.

There is an accompanying Participants' Manual.


Effective strategies to provide adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and to increase demand and community support

23 Jun 2016 05:11:06 GMT

This study is a descriptive review of the effectiveness of initiatives to improve adolescent access to and utilization of sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) in low- and middle-income countries.

This article is part of a stock-taking effort of progress toward the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) definition of SRHS as a fundamental human right, including for adolescents. Adolescent ability and willingness to access SRHS can, as indicated here, serve to reduce the rate of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), births and maternal deaths, and unwanted pregnancies, among other benefits to their health. For example: "Despite the clear need for access to SRHS, coverage rates are low. Data from five countries in [Sub-Saharan Africa] SSA with high rates of new HIV infections found that 7%-31% of males and 9%-58% of girls aged 15-24 years had been tested for HIV and received their results."

This study used literature reviews, looking for reports with systematic review methodology (i.e., reproducible and broad search strategy, clear inclusion/exclusion criteria, examination of biases, and strength of evidence). It also sought updated data about initiatives that were included in identified review articles and examined information from a set of organisations that are involved in the delivery, funding, or evaluation of adolescent SRHS. It “examined four SRHS intervention types: (1) facility based, (2) out-of-facility based, (3) interventions to reach marginalized or vulnerable populations, (4) interventions to generate demand and/or community acceptance. Outcomes assessed across the four questions included uptake of SRHS or sexual and reproductive health commodities and sexual and reproductive health biologic outcomes.”

Implications of this research:

Programs that promote access to and uptake of adolescent sexual and reproductive health services are most effective when adolescent-friendly facility-based approaches are combined with community acceptance and demand-generation activities. More research is needed to determine how best to deliver sexual and reproductive health services outside the facilities, especially to vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Protect us! Inclusion of children with disabilities in child protection

23 Jun 2016 04:34:39 GMT

Children with disabilities experience very high levels of violence, according to this research from Plan International and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The new study carried out in Uganda and Malawi provides valuable insights into the lives of children with disabilities. Key findings include:

  • girls and boys with disabilities experience extremely high levels of violence: 84% of children with disabilities surveyed reported having experienced some form of violence at school in the previous week
  • girls with disabilities were more likely to report emotional and sexual violence than girls without disabilities
  • children with disabilities find it difficult to access community-based child protection mechanisms, due to a range of barriers including environmental barriers, social barriers and institutional barriers

Recommendations for organisations:

  • develop targeted programmes aiming to prevent and respond to violence against children with disabilities
  • take concrete steps to ensure mainstream child protection programmes are accessible and inclusive
  • build knowledge and capacity of child protection professionals and community-based volunteers on the rights, vulnerabilities and capacities of children with disabilities

Recommendations to governments:

  • evaluate formal child protection services for accessibility and inclusion, and make necessary adaptations to ensure they are suitable for children with disabilities, regardless of type of impairment
  • provide safe, inclusive education for all children

Recommendations for research:

  • conduct research on the root causes of violence against children with disabilities, how they can be prevented, and how different elements of child protection systems can be made inclusive of and effective for children with disabilities

Visions, voices and priorities of young people living with and most affected by HIV

23 Jun 2016 03:44:53 GMT

This 30-page report shares perspectives and insights from young people from around the world living with and affected by HIV, who share their visions for realising and claiming their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and for setting priorities for HIV and SRHR integration. The publication was produced by the Link Up project, as part of discussions held to help advocate for young people to be a priority when setting development agendas, particularly within the emerging post-2015 framework.

The Link Up project is being implemented by a consortium of global and national partners, working with young people aged 10 to 24 years old, with a specific focus on young men who have sex with men, young people who do sex work, young people who use drugs, young transgender people, and young women and men living with HIV. Two consortium partners, the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) and the ATHENA Network led consultations with young people, which involved nearly 800 people from around the world who responded to a global online survey, and over 400 young people who participated in a series of community dialogues and focus groups with national partners in Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

The report discusses five "vision areas for positive change" that emerged from the consultations, and outlines the related recommendations that emerged, which speak to young peoples’ shared perspectives on what is needed to achieve real progress. For each vision area, a case study of a Link Up best practice that could be replicated is profiled, to help inspire implementation of the recommendations.

HIV/AIDS vulnerabilities, discrimination, and service accessibility of Nigeria's youth

23 Jun 2016 03:30:21 GMT

Nigerian youth continue to be a vulnerable group. The imbalance between high-risk sex, condom use in high-risk sex, and uptake of HIV testing raises concern for HIV prevention. This young population should have access to comprehensive SRH services and youth-focused sexuality education that goes beyond abstinence-only messages.

This is the key conclusion outlined in this report which discuss findings of a study conducted between August 2011 and July 2012 to: provide a comprehensive, evidence-based picture of HIV and sexual health and rights (SHR) related issues facing Nigerian youth; as well as explore legal, policy, and programmatic responses. The study was designed to inform a more focused approach for youth within the national response to HIV, particularly around responding to youth needs and vulnerabilities, including stigma and discrimination, especially for the most vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, female sex workers, married adolescents, orphans, prisoners, and migrants.

Based on the results of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  • improving sexual health-seeking behaviors, especially uptake of HCT and condom use by all youth, through a combination of youth-accessible communication channels, is imperative
  • evidence-based advocacy needs to be targeted at policymakers and donors to bring greater attention to the youth dimensions of the HIV epidemic, especially in relation to neglected vulnerable youth
  • innovative operational research is called for to better understand how to increase the meaningful involvement of young people in the conception, planning, and implementation of SRH and HIV/AIDS policies and programs
  • efforts to promote the mainstreaming of youth-friendly SRH and HIV services are required given the challenges of scaling up and sustaining the few model stand-alone services provided largely by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
  • a strong case exists for systematic domestication of key international regional protocols.
  • alignment of national and subnational laws and of civil, customary, and religious laws need to be advocated for strongly to ensure that laws and policies are not contradictory, and implementation of existing youth-specific laws and policies need to be improved
  • the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) must live up to its oversight function of ensuring that young people are not neglected in national HIV policies and programs
  • the government needs to increase funding and demonstrate ownership and sustainability of youth-based HIV programs

Shuga: engaging Tanzanian young people in HIV prevention through edutainment radio

23 Jun 2016 03:07:04 GMT

The Shuga radio serial drama is an evidence-based and participatory behaviour change communication edutainment drama designed to increase demand for HIV testing and counselling (HTC) and condom use among sexually active youth aged 15-24 years. The 12-episode drama series was developed in collaboration with UNICEF, MTV and HIV and AIDS Free Generation, together with government representatives and young people from six participating countries - Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, South Africa and Cameroon.

This report highlights key results and lessons learned from implementation of the first phase of Shuga radio, initiated by UNICEF Tanzania in a partnership with UNESCO and in collaboration with TACAIDS, MOHSW and key partners including JHU-CCP, PSI, T-MARC, PASADA, Baylor, Restless Development and SUMASESU and broadcast partners Tanzania Network of Community Radios and Clouds FM.

Lessons learned:

Multisectoral support is needed to design successful behavior change communication programs. Much of the success of Shuga radio is because of the support obtained from key partners at community level, the Shuga Advisory Committee, partnership with UNESCO. Moreover, within UNICEF planning, monitoring and evaluation colleagues played a big role in supporting the M&E design and data analysis, and communication advocacy and partnership colleagues supported in Facebook posts and linking Shuga radio serial drama to Radio 5.

Although there is a challenge of attribution of a particular social behaviour change communication activities to HTC outcomes, use of multiple M&E approaches generated the assertion that radio was among the top three sources of information for young people about HTC (along with health workers and teachers) and suggested that more efforts should focus on adolescents, who were less likely than young adults to be aware about HTC and to report being HIV tested.

Shifting social norms to tackle violence against women and girls

23 Jun 2016 01:06:22 GMT

Focusing primarily on tackling the harmful social norms that underpin perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence, this Guidance Note aims to summarise the role of social norms in sustaining harmful behaviours and contributing to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and to provide practical guidance and advice for Department for International Development (DFID) advisors and programme managers on how to identify and address harmful social norms in the context of programming to prevent VAWG. It highlights "promising practices" for programme design and provides practical guidance on monitoring and evaluation, so that DFID programmes can both benefit from and contribute to the emergent evidence base. Drawing on social norms theory and the work of women's rights organisations and social justice movements with practical experience in this area, as well as behavioural science, behavioural economics, and social network theory, the resource was produced by the DFID-funded Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Helpdesk on behalf of the DFID VAWG team in the Inclusive Societies Department.Key principles for programme design include:gender-transformative approaches that address not only the specific violent behaviour but also the underlying gender inequalities and power relations that drive violence against women and girlsrights-based approaches that invest in beneficiaries as "rights-holders", create a legitimate channel for their voices to be heard, and enable them to play an active role in the response to tackling VAWGinclusive interventions that address the types of violence and discrimination experienced by marginalised women and girls including women and girls with disabilities, those living with HIV, migrants, sex workersdo no harm (caution about various risks associated with social norms programming - e.g., those challenging norms in the early stages of change may be at risk from stigma and discrimination from family and community members.)context-specific diagnosis informed by formative research and local experience (e.g., Northern Uganda's GREAT project, whose ethnographic research led to use of "Wangoo" traditional fireside learning and Acholi folklore for adolescents to create a supportive environment for discourse on sexual and reproductive health (SRH), HIV, and positive gender normsintegrated and multi-sector approaches (e.g., media campaigns combined with locally targeted outreach efforts and training workshops, as well as links to response mechanisms such as social, health, security and justice services, and child protection authorities)realistic programme objectives and timelines - changing norms at scale takes many years, especially considering the importance of formative research to accurately diagnose the problem and design an appropriate responsebalancing the need for a multi-sector and integrated approach with the need for a focused programme, most likely focused geographically around districts or regions of a countryadaptive[...]

Beneficial effects of 12-week OM chanting on memory in school children

21 Jun 2016 10:35:58 GMT

Pranayama is a yogic practice where the subject prolongs and controls the breath, which helps to bring the conscious awareness in breathing; to reshape breathing habits and patterns. OM is one of the fundamental symbols used in the yoga tradition. It is Combination of A, U (O) and M, which symbolizes the three states of consciousness i.e., waking state, dream state and deep sleep respectively. Though, the sound of OM represents the primal vibration. The OM chanting is an important exhalation exercise.

This study was aimed to provide scientific evidence for beneficial effect of OM chanting on memory. The study study was conducted at Akshara group of institutions, Manthani, Telangana State, India, after obtaining institutional human ethical committee clearance. A total of 60 healthy and wiling female school children aged 12-15 years, were included in the study after obtaining informed consent, following inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Subjects were asked to sit in sukhasana and to inhalation deeply and then while exhaling should produce sound (chant) OM with the ability to continue until further exhalation is not possible. Intervention group participants, performed OM chanting once in a day for 30 minutes daily, between 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM, for 12 weeks under the supervision of yoga teacher. No significant difference was observed in demographic data of the participants. Spatial and verbal memory scores before intervention (baseline values), are not significantly different between control and intervention groups. Significant improvement in both spatial and verbal memory was observed in intervention group when compared to control group. The study further supports the beneficial effect of OM chanting on memory, and recommends adopting OM chanting in routine day life style for a better cognition and quality of life.

Mobilising a response to HIV, gender, youth and gender-based violence in South Africa: a toolkit for trainers and programme implementers

21 Jun 2016 04:42:54 GMT

This toolkit was produced as part of the Sexual HIV Prevention Project (SHIPP) to support in-house training on gender, HIV, youth, and community mobilisation for programme implementers working on HIV and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention at the district and community levels. The toolkit modules cover a range of topics and can be selected based on organisational needs and specific knowledge gaps among staff and volunteers. According to the toolkit, "an advantage of the modular arrangement is that rather than having to set aside large blocks of time for training workshops, exercises and modules can be conducted on a stand-alone basis through sessions as short as two to three hours, or, if time permits, over a day or several days, or intermittently over a number of weeks or months." The toolkit also provides a detailed outline of the key principles and techniques of participatory learning.

The following topic areas are covered:

  • Module 1: Gender concepts and definitions
  • Module 2: Gender roles and change
  • Module 3: GBV: intimate partner and non-partner domestic violence
  • Module 4: Links between GBV and HIV
  • Module 5: Gender and HIV policies
  • Module 6: Gender analysis and engaging men and boys
  • Module 7: Mobilising community action teams through community facilitators
  • Module 8: Youth vulnerability, HIV and GBV

Reframing undernutrition: faecally - transmitted infections and the 5 As

14 Jun 2016 03:26:08 GMT

The dominant nutrition discourse concerns access to adequate food and its quality. It now includes food security, food rights and justice, governance and agriculture. Despite many initiatives to assure food access, and growing economies, high levels of undernutrition persist in much of Asia. It is increasingly suggested that much of this ‘Asian enigma’ can now be explained by open defecation (OD) combined with population density. However, the insight that ‘shit stunts’ remains a widespread blind spot. The persistence of this blind spot can in part be explained by factors which are institutional, psychological and professional. Reductionist focus on the diarrhoeas, which are serious, dramatic, visible and measurable, has led to the relative neglect of many other often subclinical and continuously debilitating faecally-transmitted infections (FTIs) including environmental enteropathy (EE), other intestinal infections, and parasites. These are harder to measure but together affect nutrition much more: the diarrhoeas are only the tip of the much larger sub-clinical iceberg.

How OD and FTIs, poverty and undernutrition reinforce each other is illustrated in this paper by looking at the case of India, which has about 60 per cent of the OD in the world, around a third of the undernourished children, and approximately a third of the people living in poverty. Through OD, FTIs and in other ways, lack of sanitation leads to losses, which may be estimated, in the range of 1 to 7 per cent of GDP in various countries.

To reframe undernutrition for a better balance of understanding and interventions, the authors propose two inclusive concepts: the FTIs and the 5 As. The first two As – availability and access – are oral, about food intake, while the last three As – absorption, antibodies and allopathogens – are novel categories, anal and internal, about FTIs and what happens inside the body. These concepts have implications for research, professional teaching and training, and policy and practice. While other countries make rapid progress towards becoming open-defecation free, India remains obstinately stuck, making undernutrition in India one of the great human challenges of the twenty first century.

The concepts of FTIs and the 5 As reframe more inclusively how undernutrition is perceived, described and analysed. The authors hope is that this reframing will contribute however modestly to a cleaner, healthier and happier world in which all children and adults are well-nourished and can grow and live to their full potential.

Successful youth policy: lessons from the African Peer Review Mechanism

14 Jun 2016 01:32:34 GMT

Youth policy provides a strategic framework for countries to structure their youth development efforts. Drawing on the work of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the policy brief examines the state and prospects of youth policy in Africa. It argues that while youth policies are becoming more common, there is a need for better design and more innovative implementation strategies. In particular, stronger partnerships with bodies outside government are crucial.
  • invest in systemic information collection and analysis to provide a solid evidentiary basis for youth policy
  • recognise youth policy as a longterm, inclusive strategy. Capture by political interests is detrimental to its success
  • set realistic objectives in policy, considering what is feasible in the context of often-weak state capacity – establishing priorities is critical
  • improve the capacity of states to implement policy. This is likely to be a long-term process, so bringing in non-state actors as partners in implementing policy is critical
  • emulate the successes achieved in bodies to represent the youth – such as youth councils – to ensure that they are given a voice and the opportunity to participate in governance and development

Zambia's Multiple Category Targeting Grant: 24-month impact report

09 Jun 2016 11:48:12 GMT

This report provides the 24-month follow-up results for the Multiple Category Targeting Grant (MCTG) impact evaluation. In 2011, the government of the Republic of Zambia—through the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH)—began implementing the MCTG in two districts: Luwingu and Serenje. American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted by UNICEF Zambia to design and implement a randomized controlled trial (RCT) for a three-year impact evaluation of the program, and to conduct the necessary data collection, analysis, and reporting. This report presents findings from the 24-month follow-up study, including impacts on expenditures, poverty, food security, resilience, children, adolescents, and women’s empowerment.

Overall, the MCTG has had an impact across an impressive range of indicators covering consumption and food security as well as livelihoods and schooling. In other words, the MCTG has achieved the twin objectives of mitigating food insecurity and consumption deficits in the present, and laying the base for breaking the inter-generational transmission of poverty by strengthening livelihoods and increasing human capital investment.

Zambia's Multiple Category Grant: 36-month impact report

09 Jun 2016 11:35:17 GMT

In 2011, the government of the Republic of Zambia—through the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH)—began implementing the MCTG in two districts: Luwingu and Serenje. American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted by UNICEF Zambia to design and implement a randomised controlled trial (RCT) for a three-year impact evaluation of the program, and to conduct the necessary data collection, analysis, and reporting.

This report presents findings from the 36-month follow-up study, including impacts on expenditures, poverty, food security, resilience, children, adolescents, and women’s empowerment.

The overall impacts at 36 months are similar in pattern and magnitude to those found in earlier rounds. Moreover, the overall impacts of the program sum to a value that is greater than the transfer size. The program was originally designed with the transfer size equal to roughly one additional meal a day for the average family for 1 month. However, this report finds that in addition to eating more meals and being more food secure, families are also improving their housing conditions, buying more livestock, buying necessities for children, reducing their debt, and investing in productive activities. Monetizing and aggregating these consumption and nonconsumption spending impacts of the MCTG gives an estimated multiplier of 1.68. In other words, each Kwacha transferred is now providing an additional 0.68, or almost 70 percent more, in terms of net benefit to the household. These multiplier effects are derived in part through increased productive activity, including diversification of income sources into off-farm wage labour, investment in livestock, and nonfarm enterprise, with the latter being managed primarily by women. The 1.68 multiplier estimate is based on program impacts and accounts for changes in the control group, thus can be entirely attributed to the MCTG.

The results from the collection of evaluation reports over the 3-year period of 2011–2014 demonstrate unequivocally that common perceptions about cash transfers—that they are a hand-out and cause dependency, or lead to alcohol and tobacco consumption,—are not true in Zambia.

Zambia's Child Grant Program: 48-month impact report

09 Jun 2016 11:15:27 GMT

In 2010, the government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCD MCH), began implementing the Child Grant cash transfer program (CGP) in three districts: Kaputa, Kalabo, and Shangombo. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted by UNICEF Zambia in 2010 to design and implement a randomized controlled trial (RCT) for a 4-year impact evaluation of the program and to conduct the necessary data collection, analysis, and reporting.

This report presents findings from the 48-month follow-up study, updating results from the 24-month and 36-month impact reports, including impacts on expenditures, poverty, food security, living conditions, children, women, and productivity.

The overall results from the collection of evaluation reports over the 4-year period of 2010–2014 demonstrate unequivocally that common perceptions a bout cash transfers—that they are a hand-out and cause dependency, or lead to alcohol and tobacco consumption, or induce fertility—are not true in Zambia. The 1.49 multiplier effect, which is driven by productive activity, speaks directly to the response by poor, rural households in Zambia to use and manage the cash productively to improve their overall standard of living. Labour supply to off-farm work has
increased among CGP households, as has work in family enterprise. At no point during the 4-year evaluation have there been any positive impact s on alcohol and tobacco consumption, nor has there been any impact on fertility during the lengthy evaluation period. In short, this unconditional cash transfer has proven to be an effective approach to alleviating extreme poverty and empowering households to improve their standard
of living in a way that is most appropriate for them, based on their own choices. 

Cash for women's empowerment? A mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia' s Child Grant Programme

09 Jun 2016 02:35:21 GMT

The empowerment of women, broadly defined, is an often-cited objective and benefit of social cash transfer programmes in developing countries. Despite the promise and potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is mixed. In addition, there is little evidence from programmes that have gone to scale in sub-Saharan Africa.

This paper reports findings from a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged 0 to 5. The quantitative component was a four-year longitudinal clustered randomized control trial in three rural districts, and the qualitative component was a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners, stratified on marital status and programme participation.

The study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole and joint decisions (across five domains); however, impacts translated into relatively modest increases of an additional 0.34
of a decision made across nine domains on average. Qualitatively, it was found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household
and primary decision-makers. However, women’s narratives showed the transfer did increase overall household well-being because they felt increased financial empowerment and were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies.

The paper highlights methodological challenges in using intrahousehold decision-making as the primaryindicator to measure empowerment. Despite this, the results show potential for national, poverty-targeted, unconditional, government-run programmes in Africa, to improve the well-being of female beneficiaries.

Child Underweight, Land Productivity and Public Services: A District-Level Analysis for India

05 May 2016 11:13:06 GMT

Though India’s rank has improved in the Global Hunger Index, contributed largely by the fall in the underweight rates for children, concerns of high level of undernutrition in predominantly agricultural pockets remain. This study aims at linking child underweight rates to agricultural land productivity, a proxy for agricultural prosperity, and to the provisioning of public services, using district-level data..

The study estimates a three-stage least squares (3SLS) model with a log-linear specification. Unlike many earlier studies, the results indicate a possible positive relationship between agricultural land productivity and child underweight rates. It appears that the district-level analysis is able to capture aspects of agro-climatic conditions, agricultural development and its spillover effects, and public services delivery more effectively when compared to several studies based on household-level survey data.

The results clearly show the importance of public health provisioning in terms of vaccination, administration of oral rehydration salts when there is incidence of diarrhoea, government health facilities in rural areas, public provisioning of food, as also maternal health and women’s education. Though their elasticity was small, the variables were significant and it is clear that they may have a bigger impact on the deprived sections of the population.  For example, a 1 per cent increase in land productivity increases the percentage of nourished children below six years by about .08 per cent. Similarly, use of oral rehydration salts in diarrhoea incidence improves the underweight rate by about 0.08 per cent at the overall district level. In the parts of the country where underweight rates are high, the impact will be more and the overall magnitude of reduction would be high even if the elasticity is low. The study also shows, in an indirect way, the need for a convergence of agricultural development efforts that create on-farm and off-farm employment with public service delivery of health, sanitation and food. The policy implication is that the state governments should strive to achieve administrative convergence of both agricultural development and public provisioning, paying special attention to safe water supply.

Do dreams come true? Aspirations and educational attainments of Ethiopian boys and girls

22 Apr 2016 04:26:51 GMT

Most economic decisions that individuals take are forward-looking and are therefore shaped by the desire or ambition to achieve a goal. And yet, little is known about how aspirations shape decision-making. This paper partially addresses this gap using a rich longitudinal dataset following a cohort of children in Ethiopia for over a decade between the age of 8 and 19. We investigate the role of early aspirations for human capital investments in a context of poverty, traditional social expectations and gender roles. More specifically, the focus is on three related questions. First, the author investigates the relation between aspirations and boys’ and girls’ educational attainment, as an indicator of cumulative investments in education. Second, the paper look at how parents and children form their aspirations and at the transmission of aspirations from one generation to the other. Third, the paper explores the gender-based bias in aspirations and we investigate whether an initial pro-boys aspiration bias might constitute a source of gender inequality perpetuation particularly in a context of extreme poverty.

The author finds that:

  • aspirations have a strong predictive power for later educational attainment particularly for boys, who are more likely to drop out of school after the age of 15
  • there is a substantial gender gap in aspirations and steep gradient in aspirations across wealth
  • parents ground their aspirations on the expectations they have about their children’s future when they are 12 years old
  • children’s aspirations mirror parental aspirations
  • initial low aspirations might be a mechanism of perpetration of gender inequality among the poorest segment of the population
  • parents and children revise their aspirations over time adapting to external circumstance and social expectations, so that after the age of 15 the pro-boys gender bias in aspirations is reverted.