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African Youth workers
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Addressing War, Urbanization, and Africa’s Youth at Risk
Africa
February– August 2003

Afghanistan MapUrban youth living in Africa’s cities face a myriad of complex problems. In addition to persistent pervasive urban unemployment, they face water and housing shortages, collapsing school and health facilities, high crime rates, a prevalence HIV/AIDS and other diseases, a tottering economic environment, and ever-increasing populations due to urban migration. BEPS has produced a study that analyzes the challenges these youth face and proposes recommendations for improving youth employment opportunities and young urbanites’ participation in civil society.

This study argues that African cities not only make sense, but that their wealth of youthful residents constitute a largely untapped resource for ingenuity, stability, and economic growth. It presents commonly held perceptions of Africa’s cities and its urban youth which are overwhelmingly negative and do not recognize or appreciate the contributions of urban youth. The paper then looks into the lives of African urban youth, particularly those who affected by conflict, and why they are so attracted to city life. The core of paper’s analysis focuses on the irony of how urban youth are a demographic majority which sees itself as an outcast minority.

The report concludes with suggestions for transforming how urban youth are perceived, engaged, and ultimately included in urban Africa’s civil societies and economies. It recommends targeting the marginalized youth majority, designing emphatically inclusive programs, actively encouraging female youth participation, developing holistic programs, drawing from existing entrepreneurial skills when developing vocational training, fostering trust by providing access to capital, creating effective networks with existing youth programs, and maintaining ongoing program evaluations and revisions.


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