USAID has just become the first major bilateral donor - ever - to develop an agency-wide Youth Policy. The policy recognises, and seeks to tap into, the massive contribution young people can make to development. Having worked closely with USAID over the past three years, we are proud that much of the Youth in Development Policy is in line with our youth-led approach.
Restless Development was one of the international organisations invited to take part in formal consultations to inform the development of the Policy.
In July 2011 we organised a formal consultation in Tanzania with a group of young women and men from across the country. Young Tanzanians summarised the key issues affecting them - unemployment, HIV and above all, exclusion. One highlight of their feedback that USAID found most interesting was about giving young people - especially women and girls - a say in decision-making processes that affect them.
They asked USAID to recognise ‘young people as the experts on the needs and priorities of young people’, and not to treat them simply as ‘beneficiaries’. Participants encouraged USAID to involve young people in policy development from planning, implementation, and review of achievements once it is implemented. The consultation generated many valuable insights, and was seen as a resounding success by USAID, Restless Development, and the young people who took part.
Based on that success, in October 2011, we were once again invited to take part in a formal consultation, this time as a multi-country virtual discussion. USAID staff shared an overview of the content of the policy at that stage and asked us to provide specific feedback. Our young staff from Zambia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, the UK and the US responded to questions targeted at particular aspects of the policy and shared tangible, constructive input based on their experience and expertise.
Afterwards then USAID Youth Adviser, Erin Mazursky, said Restless Development provided ‘incredibly constructive and helpful feedback, and we look forward to incorporating much of it. I really can’t say enough good things about [the consultation]. It was the best one we’ve done to date’.
We are looking forward to working with USAID over the coming years to ensure the Youth Policy delivers tangible improvements in the lives of young people.
The USAID Policy on Youth in Development can be read at http://1.usa.gov/W7VSyH.
USAID Youth Consultation Participants, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2011
More info on the policy:
The press release is at: http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/usaid-launches-new-policy-youth-development
Assistant Administrator Susan Reichle’s blog on the policy can be read at http://blog.usaid.gov/2012/11/new-usaid-policy-on-youth-in-development/