Youth engagement in implementation

Implementation refers to the delivery of development interventions through government, civil society or other partners. Young people have an important role to play in the implementation of development programmes and initiatives. The roles young people can play include: acting as peer educators in areas such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, citizenship and democracy, and designing programmes. Taking up these roles can also dramatically improve their own lives, for example through developing skills to increase employability.

How can donor agencies help?

Donor agencies can support youth-focused implementation in a number of ways:

  1. Forming and strengthening groups and coalitions, in preparation for actions of increasing scale;
  2. Being informed of the problems young people face at the local level;
  3. Directing funding towards youth-led implementation;
  4. Providing mechanisms to encourage/support youth-led/youth-focused organisations to gain funding.

Added value of working with young people

Young people’s input can improve programme delivery by:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of communication strategies with target peer groups (see case study 15 on voter education) and hard-to-reach groups;
  • Creating a more accurate picture of current issues, such as local market demands (see case study 11 on displaced youth);
  • Building the next generation of decision-makers through actively learning about development processes;
  • Engaging young people who are often more flexible and less fixed in their ideas, reinvigorating policies and procedures;
  • Establishing a pool of willing volunteers, who are often adaptable and have the ability to work in rural or remote areas.

Entry points

Governance, voice and accountability (See case studies 15, 16, 17)

There are some crucial entry-points for youth participation within existing governance structures and processes, such as elections (see case study 15) or participatory budgeting (case study 16). However, care should be taken to ensure that the youth sector is not ‘politicised’ i.e., that youth services are insulated from partisan/political competition and resources are distributed according to need. Donor agencies should also consider gaps in the institutional framework and the need to recognise and support youth-led partners (case study 17).

Post-conflict transitions and livelihoods (See case studies 11, 12, 15)

The recent emphasis of the international community on youth participation “has been particularly strong in post-conflict settings. Peace processes appear as a window of opportunity for promoting a higher degree of youth participation.”53 To some commentators this may seem opportunistic, but the consensus is that initiatives focusing on youth livelihoods (such as in case study 11 and case study 12) are a key entry point for youth participation and central to sustainable peace building. Such initiatives are about more than skills transfer, they also relate to governance, voice and accountability:

“Relatively cheap investments in civilian security through police, judicial and rule-of-law reform, local capacity-building for human rights and reconciliation, and local capacity-building for public sector service delivery can greatly benefit long-term peace building.” On the other hand, “Failure to successfully implement such programmes will result in youth unemployment and fuel the development of criminal gangs and violence and ultimately a relapse into conflict.” UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2005)

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (See case studies 13, 14)

The SRHR sector has a long history of youth participation by involving young people in implementing programmes and interventions. Notable entry points are through peer education (see case study 14) and through SRHR mainstreaming processes (see case study 13). By virtue of the gravity of the pandemic, HIV/AIDS also presents opportunities for social change and the position of young people. Visiting SenegaI in 2009 UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said HIV/AIDS presents a "political opportunity to trigger profound changes in society, to talk about difficult issues like sex education, homophobia and human rights issues in general, like the position of women in society”.

Case studies in this section

For more resources and networks’ contact details by thematic area please see Appendix 3.

Overcoming the barriers

Barriers to youth participation in implementation

  • Colleagues may not understand the benefits and value of working with young people;
  • Interventions may not be designed with young people in mind or acknowledge their particular needs/issues;
  • Lack of sharing, learning and documentation of promising practice involving young implementers; and therefore a lack of evidence.

Overcoming the barriers: situation analysis

The place to start in any sector is engaging young people and increasing their visibility via participatory situation analysis/needs assessments (as in case study 8). These should be fully documented and findings shared with partners. There are particular considerations when conducting assessments with young people:

  • Building or maintaining harmony between young people and their wider community and fostering adult-youth partnerships is crucial. By successfully mapping designated areas young researchers can demonstrate their capabilities, encouraging the adults in their community to recognise their skills as contributing community members.
  • Training and capacity building must be adequately assessed and built into any situation analysis time frame.
Learning from young people - Photo © Students Partnership Worldwide

11. Displaced youth – livelihoods and alternative education (WRC)


“We want to learn computer. We want to learn electronics. Our thinking and our ideas cannot develop staying in this camp.” Ethnic Karen refugee youth from Burma in the Umpiem refugee camp in Thailand, June 2006

Young people aged 15 to 24 years make up around 20% of the world’s 40 million-plus refugees and displaced persons. The majority of refugees are in protracted situations that last an average of 17 years. Despite the great number of young people in need, they are largely ignored by the international community in humanitarian and conflict settings. Few programmes exist for those who are now teenagers and never went to school, or for those who need secondary education or vocational skills training. The Women's Refugee Commission's research and advocacy project, Tapping the Potential of Displaced Youth, aims to increase international attention and support for the educational and job training needs of displaced young women and men worldwide through research and creating educational and market assessment tools.

Problems addressed

  • Conflict and displacement disrupts the transmission of livelihoods knowledge and resources to younger generations.
  • Young people’s catch-up education and vocational training needs are underfunded in relief and reconstruction initiatives.
  • Without opportunities to learn and work, young people are left idle, frustrated and more at risk.

“Income-generating activities are critical. If not, people in the camps will be socialised into dependency.” Jesuit Refugee Service representative, North Darfur, June 2006.


  • To increase the scope, scale and effectiveness of educational and job training programmes targeting displaced young people through a three-pronged approach of research, tool development and advocacy.
  • Long-term goal: to ensure that displaced young women and men are equipped with the skill set necessary to find safe, dignified work, whether they return to their country of origin, settle in the country where they are living as refugees or resettle in a third country.

Youth as beneficiaries

Research and advocacy for displaced young people who require education and skills training services.

Youth as partners

  • Fifteen-member youth advisory committee (18 to 24 years) from conflict-affected countries.
  • Youth to participate in research.
  • Youth self-assessment in all skill-building programmes is recommended. Young people should be given the tools to think critically about the selection of training programmes and possible job opportunities.


The Displaced Youth Advocacy Programme started in October 2008.

  • Since then global desk research and field assessments in five countries to gather young people’s views of their needs and recommendations on ways to address them have been conducted. The five country case studies are: Liberia, Uganda, Sudan, Jordan and Thailand.
  • The programme has partnered with operational agencies to test promising practices that can be replicated and taken to scale.
  • Convert lessons learned into advocacy briefs, guidelines and tools for donor agencies and humanitarian workers. displaced young people’s educational and job training needs.


  • Comprehensive understanding of what effective programmes and policies exist, what is missing and what is needed to prepare young people for safe, dignified work in existing labor markets and markets where they will likely end up after displacement.
  • Practitioners, donor agencies and policy-makers have access to a range of resource tools (concrete, accessible and relevant) enabling them to implement and assess quality, appropriate educational and skills building programmes for displaced youth.
  • The number of young people reached by quality educational and job training programmes increases dramatically, due to explicit policies and/or priorities on the part of UN agencies, major practitioner organisations and donor agencies and governments.

Lessons learned

  • Young people consistently expect that participation in vocational training will increase their capacity to find employment or self-employment opportunities and achieve greater self-reliance. Yet, research in Northern Uganda has found that programme objectives may differ from participants’ objectives, leading to disappointment and frustration.
  • Continuing to teach the same vocational skills in the same region is leading to labour supply saturation in some industries. Market observation is the first step in understanding what goods and services are supplied and demanded in the community. Market information should be incorporated into each stage of vocational training programming to improve design and, increase employment opportunities.
  • Catch-up education combined with skills training should include transferable skills, such as information and communication technology, financial literacy and entrepreneurship (even when training for wage employment).
  • Many conflict-affected youth employ multiple livelihood strategies from day to day and may have to rely on more than one skill to maintain an income.
  • In many conflict and post-conflict countries, co-ordination and information sharing among the humanitarian community around youth issues must be strengthened and systematised.

Potential challenges

  • Gender self-selection into different skills areas can perpetuate gender inequalities in incomes and social status. Implementers need to avoid reinforcing the pattern by actively coaching young people towards new aspirations.
  • In many conflict and post-conflict countries, there is a very small formal market and it can be difficult to connect graduates to employers.
  • After participating in a programme, many young people don’t have opportunities to practice skills learned in vocational training, for example through internships or apprenticeships.
  • Given how dynamic and fluid a conflict can be, the likely futures and locations of displaced young people are often unknown.

For further information contact:

Photo © Women’s Refugee Commission

Additional Resources: 

1) Youth and Sustainable Livelihoods:Linking Vocational Training Programs to Market Opportunities in Northern Uganda’:

2) Women’s Refugee Commission Market Assessment Toolkit

3) ‘Untapped Potential: Displaced Youth’ :

4) ‘Right to Education during Displacement: A resource for organizations working with refugees and internally displaced persons’ was developed for international and local organizations, the United Nations and governments working with displaced communities:

5) Too Little for Too Few: Meeting the Needs of Youth in Darfur (December 2008):

6) Save the Children Norway publications on youth participation in post-conflict settings:

12. Employment Fund, Nepal (DFID/SDC)

Employment Fund

“It is clear that any proposed solutions to the youth employment challenge which do not take on board the expectations, frustrations and aspirations of young people in relation to the labour market will struggle to meet the needs of youth.” Youth Employment Network 2007

Funded by DFID and SDC, Helvetas Nepal’s employment fund provides skill training to economically poor and socially discriminated out-of-school youth. Private service providers help identify the market potential as well as train participants. The payment to the service providers is based on the type of category trained and linked to outcomes: the service provider does not get any payment for those trainees who do not achieve employment.

Problems addressed

  • Youth are an economic asset and their capacity needs to be tapped for national growth.
  • While 300,000 young people enter the labour market every year, only 50,000 are receiving skills training and according to the 2008 National Labour Force Survey, 46% of 20 to 24 year- olds are “highly underutilised.”


  • To provide skill training to poor and socially discriminated out-of-school youth (18 to 35 years) and ensure their gainful employment;
  • To promote decent work;
  • To address the employment needs of youth in order to mitigate social and political instability;
  • To address the particular needs of conflict-affected youth (IDPs, ex- combatants), widows, and the disabled.

Youth as beneficiaries

Fourteen thousand five hundred young people (18 to 35 years), 57% female, received vocational training and support, credit linkage and life skills. N.B., a partner approach can be taken by recruiting outstanding trainees to train others and review project design.


  • Timeframe: 12 months; three months training plus follow up.
  • Private service providers (currently 17, in 38 districts) are selected based on a competitive bidding system.
  • A rapid market appraisal is carried out to identify local market need by the service provider.
  • Target groups categorised (by gender, caste etc).
  • Implementation of training. Mobile trainings for geographically isolated youth groups.
  • Post-training support includes market linkage, business counselling and knowledge on labour rights and credit linkage.
  • Differential pricing mechanism (see below) ensures that youth from disadvantaged groups are reached.
  • Payment to service provider is based on outcomes. The first payment is made after submission of training completion report (40% of the outcome cost), second payment after submitting income verification report at three month of working (25%) and the remaining 35% after completion of income verification at six months of training.

  • Training schemes using this model can be highly effective. The trainees’ pass rate (as recorded by the National Skill Testing Board) was 80% in 2009.
  • Similarly the employment rate was very high post-training at 92%.
  • A wide range of training areas have been developed. Trainees working in 49 trades in 2009 included construction, welding, furniture making, embroidery, plumbing, and electricians.

Lessons learned
  • Mobile trainings (trainers travelling to trainees) are helpful and cost-effective in reaching out in geographically isolated regions.
  • Differentiated pricing mechanism helps deliver training to the targeted groups more effectively.
  • Outcome-based and post financing model has helped to ensure that the fund is utilised as per mandates.

Potential challenges
  • Geographic remoteness makes it difficult for service providers to identify employable trades in those areas that would help the people to generate minimum income of USD$3000/month after the skills training.
  • Skills training sometimes did not match the interest and need of the employers.
  • Post-training support like linkage to the collateral-free loan and market linkage needs to be strengthened.
  • The service providers in the market are mostly output oriented rather than outcome oriented.
  • Tracing of the graduates for income reporting, especially those going to India and overseas, is challenging as the graduates change their working place frequently and service providers are not notified.

For further information contact:

Young people are eager to learn and engage - Photo © Panos
Additional Resources: 

1) The Helvetas RMA concept note_Draft_ CKA 09

2) Shared Learning Network in Nepal. Read the report here:   

3) Get Youth On Board Toolkit on Youth Employment (GTZ, 2008):

4) International Alert – governance, youth unemployment and post conflict:

Youth Engagement Lens: Beneficiaries
Operational Area: Implementation

13. Mainstreaming SRHR in Education (USAID, Senegal)

Mainstreaming SRHR

“HIV and AIDS mainstreaming should result in the epidemic becoming part and parcel of the routine functions and functioning of a sector an integral part of the planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring activities”. UNAIDS 2008

Multi-sectoral approaches that engage government agencies, communities, and youth are vital for sustainable change. The Population Council and Frontiers together have worked across different policy areas, utilising a strong research base and government partnerships to catalyse change in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) policy and practice. Regional research pilots informed the creation of a nationwide programme between 1999 and 2007. The majority of funding was provided by USAID.

Problems addressed

  • The need for a well informed, effective and integrated approach to adolescent SRHR at a local and national level in Senegal;
  • The need for a collaborative response to SRHR policy, involving several agencies for co-ordinated and greater impact.


  • To institutionalise youth reproductive health at a local level;
  • To create a favourable policy and funding environment for adolescent reproductive health (ARH) at the national level;
  • To scale up the intervention in Senegal and in neighboring states.

Youth as beneficiaries

Over eight years, 28,000 young people in three regions (urban areas) were reached by peer education. Young people were also survey respondents, and recipients of the SRHR education and care that was influenced.

Youth as partners

Seventy adolescents were recruited to act as peer educators. Those receiving training included at-risk youth such as house servants, shoeshine boys, car washers, and teenage mothers.


  • Frontiers undertook a comprehensive operations research study from 1999- 2003 assessing different approaches to adolescent reproductive health in three districts of Senegal.
  • Outreach and advocacy involved community institutions and resources (including religious organisations, women’s groups, public events, dramas, and community meetings, among others).
  • Staff of government ministries participated in all phases of the design and implementation; youth, community, and religious leaders were key actors in providing information and discussing sensitive issues.
  • Based on the outcomes and cultural situation of Senegalese youth, a programme of work was formulated incorporating formal and informal educational approaches and a core curriculum.
  • Training of professionals in education and health, as well as for 70 peer educators was conducted, who then delivered the curriculum initially in the three pilot districts.
  • The peer education methodology was particularly used to target out-of-school and other excluded youth.
  • The Ministry of Health was influenced by the findings of the study, and partnered with Frontiers. In 2004 they created a 13-partner steering committee for inter-ministerial co-ordination and technical assistance was offered to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Sports, youth-serving organisations and development partners.
  • Government ministries were offered support to develop adolescent SRHR action plans which were submitted to development partners for funding for scaling up.
  • Following this the initiative was scaled up in all nine regions of the country.

  • Findings from the initial studies showed that the interventions addressed a recognised need of incorporating SRHR into broader education strategies.
  • Community response was overwhelmingly positive. Local civic and religious leaders (critical gatekeepers for social change) strongly supported the adolescent SRHR initiatives and played major roles in the intervention activities.
  • Uptake of materials by UN bodies and Save the Children (in 18 countries).
  • Endorsement of the approach by WHO; replication efforts in other Francophone African countries.
Projected results

  • Mainstreaming by Ministry of Education of adolescent SRHR;
  • Incorporation of learning into initiatives by Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Justice;
  • Integration of three adolescent SRHR indicators in the government management information system.
  • Adoption of key programme documents ‘Curriculum grandir en harmonie’ and ‘Orientation of health providers in adolescent health’ as official documents.
Lessons learned

  • Having staff train and supervise volunteer and professional networks and undertake administration for the thematic group on adolescent SRHR is crucial, as is having project managers and field staff.
  • Mainstreaming efforts are still plagued by considerable misconceptions about the nature of the change that is envisaged. The idea that cross-sectoral issues (such as HIV/AIDS or youth) are the responsibility of a single ministry, person, focal point or unit continues to prevail.
  • Mainstreaming requires strong leadership, co-ordination and the tracking of outcomes of multiple sectors by a central authority in order to avoid fragmentation.54
Potential challenges

  • Co-ordinating ministries of differing sizes and status.
  • Addressing the needs of married adolescents (an underserved group in adolescent SRHR).
For further information contact:
Population Council Senegal,

Photo © Students Partnership Worldwide

  • 54. UNAIDS, World Bank, UNDP 2005
Additional Resources: 

1) Operations Research Toolkit:

2) ‘FRONTIERS’ Programme Legacy findings:

3) Multisectoral ARH Interventions: The Scale Up Process in Kenya and Senegal:

4) UNFPA/EU Reproductive Health Imitative for Youth in Asia:

5) Toolkit for Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in Education (UNAIDS 2008):

Youth Engagement Lens: Beneficiaries, Partners
Operational Area: Implementation

14. SRHR Peer Education (NAC, Uganda)

Peer Education

In order to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, young people need confidence, awareness of gender issues and access to services and motivation, not just the raw facts.

Young Empowered and Healthy (YEAH) is a nationally recognised sexual health campaign for and by young people in Uganda, launched in 2004 under the auspices of the Uganda AIDS Commission. YEAH uses radio and other media to reach youth and produces an award winning national weekly serial drama, ‘Rock Point 256.’ YEAH is implemented by Communication for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU) with technical assistance from Health Communication Partnership (HCP). Funding and support for YEAH has been drawn from USAID, PEPFAR (a special US presidential fund for SRH intervention measures), through John Hopkins Bloomberg University. Other funding is from Save the Children Uganda, UNICEF and the Uganda National AIDS Commission.

Problems addressed

  • Research has shown that many HIV and other SRH programmes in Uganda tend to focus on the girl child because she is considered more vulnerable, paying little attention to one of the key sources of that vulnerability: their male counterparts.55
  • YEAH addresses underlying factors affecting sexual health at the individual and community level, in social services and in the social/political domains. YEAH also addresses the more general need for meaningful participation of young people in their own projects.


  • To reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, adolescent pregnancies and school drop-out rates amongst 15 to 24-year-olds in Uganda.
  • To stimulate dialogue and action among communities, families, schools, and health institutions, and model positive practices through local and national media.
  • To make the political and social environment more conducive to young people’s social and behavioral change through multi-channel campaigns.

Youth as partners

Through regional young people’s advisory groups (YAGs), young people are involved and consulted in every stage of campaign development: from planning, to implementation, to evaluation.

Youth as beneficiaries

One hundred thousand young people targeted and reached by interpersonal communications approaches.

Over 2.5 million young people targeted and reached through media campaigns (and see results below).


  • The YEAH model focuses on conducting an initial assessment of the SRHR needs of local communities.
  • This informs planning and strategy design and the development of materials for pre-testing.
  • The next stage involves dissemination of SRHR education resources through peer educators, and the implementation of SRHR campaigns.
  • These are monitored and evaluated (which involves the capacity building of young people and partners) and re-planning begins.
  • This informs the designing and implementing of further evidence-based campaigns, such as the ‘Be a Man’ campaign.
  • The implementation of educational SRHR campaigns is conducted over a two-year cycle. Regional young people’s advisory groups (YAGs) are involved at all stages, plus a technical advisory team of youth organisation representatives.


  • YEAH has received over 20,000 fan letters, many asking for advice or thanking YEAH for helping them reduce their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
  • A 2008 YEAH impact survey showed that ‘Rock Point 256’ reaches 52% of young women and 60% of young men.
  • The ‘Be a Man’ campaign has reached out to 46% of young men and 32% of young women in Uganda.
  • The ‘Something for Something Love’ campaign has reached 66% of young men and 70% of young women.

Lessons learned

  • Strong partnership amongst all partners and the division of responsibility on a regional basis helps enhance the impact of outreach and communication strategies.
  • CSOs working closely with district teams reduces unnecessary duplication of work.
  • Strong partnerships working at national and regional level can result in:
    • A focus on high quality communications;
    • Utilisation of widely agreed proven and effective theories and strategies;
    • Cost implications stem from task areas including research, training, monitoring and evaluation, marketing, script writing, materials pre-testing, graphic design and radio production. Estimated annual budget is USD$1.3m.

Potential challenges

  • Insufficient availability of resources to match demand for the service;
  • Skills gaps amongst partners and young people threatening sustainability.

For further information contact: or

Gender programmes must be inclusive of men - Photo © Y.E.A.H. Uganda

  • 55. Kibombo et al 2007
Additional Resources: 

1) Formative and vulnerability research that informs campaign strategies targeting young people:

2) Order Y.E.A.H Men and HIV and AIDS manual for training peer educators:

3) The Youth Guidance Project Sharing and Learning Network session in Uganda on SRHR:

4) InterAgency Youth Working Group resources on youth reproductive
health and HIV/AIDS:

Youth Engagement Lens: Beneficiaries, Partners
Operational Area: Implementation

15. Educating New Voters, (Finnish Embassy, Nepal)

Educating New Voters

Voter and civic education is especially important in post-conflict countries, where political situations may be volatile, substantial legal and procedural changes have taken place, and elections may have an unprecedented impact on the country’s future.

The Embassy of Finland in Kathmandu funded a Nepali NGO (Alliance for Peace) to create awareness about the country’s 2008 constituent assembly elections. Young people were less involved in party politics and were not recognised as belonging to any particular party. Thus, young people’s involvement in voter awareness helped the campaign to maintain a neutral position. Educating young people had a ripple effect as they communicated within their families, peer and friend groups. The initiative ran for one year from April 2007 to March 2008.

Problems addressed:

  • The constitution assembly of 2008 was held nine years after the general election of 1999. This gap meant that there were a large number of first-time young voters. Youth voter turnout was seen as important for the legitimacy of the democratic process.
  • Young people who are unaware of their rights are more easily manipulated by political leaders.


  • To make information related to elections available and accessible to all youth constituents;
  • To increase participation through district fora, radio and the web;
  • To encourage young people to ask questions of election candidates through outreach campaigns;
  • To promote citizenship and understanding of rights and responsibilities.

Youth as partners

Young people organised district and national fora (600 participants) and distributed voting information – including in formats suitable for non-literate young people.

Youth as beneficiaries

Twelve thousand young people in 30 districts were directly reached by a campaign bus over 60 days. Radio announcements in 12 local languages reached the whole of Nepal through 20 local and two national stations.


  • A team of six campaigners (18 to 35 years) with previous community experience were selected and trained on electoral systems, voting skills and campaigning techniques.
  • Posters, flyers, youth-friendly booklets, website and radio announcements developed;
  • Campaign bus targeted colleges, youth clubs, barracks and other hubs of youth activity;
  • Most of the limited resources for outreach, particularly mass communication, were concentrated in the final month when most attention would be paid to it.
  • Four regional youth fora were conducted covering basic concepts of elections and voting models.
  • A national seminar in the capital was attended by over 100 young participants selected by colleges, student unions, political parties and local authorities.
  • The campaign ensured that its activities were aligned with the election laws.
  • Project team included a project officer, finance officer, logistical officer and office assistant.


  • The campaign was able to reach a large number of youth of rural Nepal within a very short time;
  • Request for training from the armed police force in three districts;
  • Approximately 20,000 young people were informed about the constitution assembly elections.

“Not too many organisations or the government is coming to rural and difficult places to visit and explain to us about the new voting system. Thank you.” Khadka Dangi, participant

Lessons learned

  • The web was a good means to reach educated and urban youth, while radio was effective for rural youth.
  • Young campaigners were proactive and flexible, able to work in a campaign which required a lot of travel in uncertain conditions.

“It was very empowering as a young woman, to go out to the districts and campaign with the people on issues of voter education. It not only enhanced my learning and confidence, it also helped me to see my own country through different eyes.” Jhala BK, campaigner

Potential challenges

  • Changes in election schedules (occurred twice in this case).
  • Language and cultural barriers continue to be a factor in effective delivery of messages in a multilingual country like Nepal.
  • Young campaigners were not always trusted or taken seriously.

For more information please contact:

Alliance for Peace (AfP) Nepal, or see

Educating young voters - Photo © Students Partnership Worldwide

Additional Resources: 

1) The Alliance for Peace Finland_Voter_Ed_Final_Report_February08

2) Search for Common Ground:

3) The YGP SLN discussion in Nepal:

Youth Engagement Lens: Beneficiaries, Partners
Operational Area: Implementation

16. Participatory Budgeting (GTZ, Argentina)

Participatory Budgeting

“Where local young people are involved in budgetary decisions there is the potential to develop creative solutions to issues that can result in cost savings and better value for money. Local young people are often very conscious of spending/allocating public money and can therefore be very careful about how they spend it.” Government official, Municipality of Rosario

Participatory youth governance can give youth a greater sense of civic pride and responsibility. The Municipality of Rosario undertakes an annual participatory youth budget, engaging youth from across its six districts in democratic processes to select representatives and decide upon budget allocations for youth services. An initial pilot in 2004 was funded by German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and the necessary funds are now drawn from the municipal budget. Young people are able to have a say in the design of youth services in their city and in the allocation of resources to support their execution over the course of a six-month annual cycle.

Problems addressed

  • Service priorities set by adults may not always reflect the needs and interests of young people.
  • Inefficiency in terms of how funds are spent.


  • To engage youth as protagonists in the design and implementation of local youth services;
  • To educate young people in citizenship by active learning.

Youth as partners

An average of 1,000 young people (13 to 18 years) per year engaged in the control and distribution of resources, co-managing decision-making processes.

Youth as beneficiaries

Funded services used by the wider youth population.


  1. Initial steps include setting up neighborhood assemblies in each city district.
  2. Young people then identify neighborhood priorities and elect delegates to each district’s youth participatory council.
  3. This is followed by a full day orientation meeting where budget delegates can meet each other and learn about the process.
  4. Subsequently, youth participatory councils meet regularly for several months to develop project proposals based on the neighborhood priorities.
  5. The councils then present the proposals in a round of district assemblies, where local youth vote on which to implement.
  6. Participants are encouraged to participate in other non-youth specific participatory budgeting processes.


  • Three thousand five hundred young people were involved by 2008.
  • Gaps in provision were identified and addressed. Funding was allocated to new music and dance workshops, recreational sites and a community library.
  • Inspired new youth projects in adult participatory budgeting process.
  • Development of new democratic skills, knowledge and attitudes. The elected representatives within the process are also considered ambassadors with a responsibility to involve others.
  • Linking of youth groups from different areas.
  • The programme is undergoing a steady scale-up process utilising the raised profile and extra capacity brought by projects funded from youth budget for outreach purposes.

“To be a budget delegate means to make decisions responsibly and skilfully, to debate and respect the opinions of others, to orient and guide people who need help, and to propose coherent projects that will be useful in the future.” Youth participant, Rosario

Lessons learned

  • Strong political will is required to maintain participation initiatives.
  • In an urban environment a level of decentralisation enables the participation of youth from more diverse areas.
  • Human resources required: overall direction from within the municipal budget team, youth workers across all six municipal districts and administrative support for the youth budget council.

Potential challenges

  • Engaging the most socially excluded groups of young people, especially those heavily engaged in gang activity has been a challenge;
  • Maintaining communication with all young people involved.

For further information contact:

Municipality of Rosario,

Creating community leaders - Photo © Students Partnership Worldwide

Additional Resources: 

1) ‘Participatory Budgeting with Youth’ Josh Lerner (Unpublished, 2006): Attached (PDF, 607Kb)

2) ‘Learning Citizenship and Democracy Through Participatory Budgeting: The Case of Rosario, Argentina’ Josh Lerner, Daniel Schugurensky:

3)72 Frequently Asked Questions about Participatory Budgeting’ (UN Habitat):

Operational Area: Implementation
Youth Engagement Lens: Beneficiaries, Partners
Participatory Budgeting with Youth (PDF)607.4 KB

17. Launching a Youth-Led Partner (USAID, Jamaica)

Youth Led Partner

Youth-led organisations are in a unique position to develop and implement initiatives that address issues from a youth perspective and offer solutions that respond to the diverse realities of young people. USAID funded a programme through Jamaican partners to promote healthy lifestyles amongst Jamaican youth, addressing sexual health and violence prevention through youth-led peer education and outreach.

Founded as part of the USAID-funded JASTYLE Project, the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) has grown into an independent NGO working closely with the national government, civil society, national and international NGOs and the school system to address issues of democracy and youth participation. It focuses on: adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence prevention and arts and culture in Jamaica. Working from the local level up, JYAN has developed links to key decision-makers in national and multilateral policy and funding bodies.

Problems addressed

  • Need for youth-led partners to spearhead advocacy and practice;
  • Lack of understanding of integrated youth development work: perception of young people as “problems” or “threats” rather than members and leaders in a democracy.


  • To increase awareness of international and national policies and programmes that impact adolescents and youth;
  • To facilitate youth participation and inclusion in decision-making processes across the island;
  • To facilitate improvements in the policy environment in Jamaica relating to adolescent/youth development.

Youth as leaders

JYAN was youth-initiated. Young people form 100% of agency staff, developing services and building governance/representation structures.

Youth as partners

As well as advising donor staff and delivering peer-to-peer services, young people co-develop and co-manage services.


  • A youth advisory board was set up, which went on to create JYAN to sustain their work.
  • From 2005 to 2008 JYAN was led and staffed by young people on a voluntary basis.
  • Continued contact and support from USAID.
  • Support from the Global Fund and the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Environment
  • JYAN document the experiences and highlight the information gleaned from the young people who participate in conferences, interventions, projects or trainings.
  • This then feeds back in information to guide other processes, e.g., in media engagement or sensitising other young people.
  • Communiques and calls to action produced by young conference participants are used to build an information base for future reference.


  • Through the Youth Help Project, adolescents/teenagers who were identified as ‘school dons’ (bullies) have demonstrated positive behaviour change and a self perception as positive leaders in school.
  • JYAN is represented on an ad hoc and permanent basis in a number of policy fora with the Jamaican government and various international agencies.

“We learn the value of gaining respect from our adult partners by informing ourselves and documenting our experiences. Without this we would not have been able to represent fully the concerns and needs of the young people we serve. ...We learned to appreciate and respect deadlines, authority, combining passion with commitment and the opinions of our adult partners. Thus we were able to teach government, donor agencies, technocrats and other stakeholders a critical lesson to see young people way beyond the idea of us as just an asset to policy planning and programming.” Jaevion Nelson, JYAN

Lessons learned

  • The set up and support for youth-led organisations can be very straightforward.
  • Feedback indicates that young people reached through this work have joined the network because they admire the direct youth-on-youth approach/methodology and they feel comfortable sharing their challenges and concerns.
  • Particular administrative and managerial capacities required: three full-time staff and a core volunteer board of five to ten members giving ten hours per week.

Potential challenges

  • Lack of resources (human, financial, and infrastructural). So far this has been mitigated by the dedicated voluntary involvement of the core team and contributions in kind (space and administrative resources) from partners.

For further information contact:

or Jaevion Nelson,

Youth leading youth - Photo © JA-STYLE

Additional Resources: 

1) JYAN Advocacy Toolkit: see

2) ‘Youth Led Organizations and SRHR’ (a step by step guide to establishing youth NGOs that goes wider than the SRHR sector):

3) Inter-American Development Bank:

4) YEN/UNIDO/ILO/UNDP Youth-led Development Project in West Africa, see:

Youth Engagement Lens: Partners, Leaders
Operational Area: Implementation