Empowering Vulnerable Youth in Africa

Prevention through Life Skills and Peer Education

In response to the need for effective protection of young people being harmed by alcohol and drugs, IBC and its local partner and member organisations run the "Life Skills and Peer Education" programme. The holistic prevention programme targets disadvantaged youth and helps them developing a healthy life perspective.

By preventing youth from being harmed by alcohol and drugs, the programme decreases violence and diseases such as HIV/ AIDS in communities and enables the youths to lead fulfilled lives.

Three activities form the core of the programme:
Life Skills training, formation of young multipliers (Peer Educators), media and policy work.

Life Skills

In the weekly Life Skills trainings, qualified trainers of the Blue Cross help participants to develop self-esteem, self-awareness and decision-making skills. In the training sessions young people acquire better communication skills and learn to resolve conflicts peacefully. The Life Skills sessions empower the youths emotionally, socially and economically by capacitating them to solve problems and deal with difficulties in their lives. Saying “no” to alcohol and drugs is an important part of that.

Furthermore, programme activities focus on HIV/AIDS infections as a possible consequence of alcohol and drug consumption and motivate students to reflect on gender equality in an environment where patriarchal norms are prevalent and violence against women and girls is widely accepted. The training is based on active ‘self-learning’ to enable personal development. Each participant enrols for one school year in the Life Skills programme, attending the sessions on a weekly basis.

Peer Education

Selected participants have the possibility to be trained as Peer Educators, who pass on what they have learnt in the Life Skills sessions to other youth - their peers. Peer Education is based on role modelling and the ability of young people to become leaders and agents of change through empowerment and support. By leading regular meetings and activities with other young people, Peer Educators act as multipliers nurturing the development of social and interpersonal competencies. This way, sustainable healthy behavioural patterns are being formed within communities of young people.

Involvement of decision makers

In parallel, the Blue Cross coordinates closely with local authorities and the media. IBC involves parents and community leaders in order to limit young people's access to alcohol and drugs and to reduce the risk of substance abuse. Awareness campaigns about the dangers associated with alcohol and drug use at recreational facilities, churches and within the community are being carried out regularly.

Quick Facts: Harmed by Alcohol

Globally, the harmful use of alcohol causes approximately 3.3 million deaths every year. This is greater than the proportion of deaths from HIV/AIDS. It becomes more and more clear that alcohol consumption contributes significantly to the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and pneumonia. Beyond these health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol inflicts social and economic losses on individuals and society at large and is, specifically in Africa, a major obstacle to development. The growing alcohol consumption in Africa and the early age of onset make the introduction of effective prevention programmes particularly important. Until now, such programmes are non-existent in many countries of the African continent.
Programme overview

Promotion of health through substance abuse and violence prevention among young people. Reducing substance abuse among youths decreases violence and the spread of diseases, which allows young people to lead a more productive, healthy life with better perspectives.

  • Conduction of interactive Life Skills Sessions to build awareness and strengthen life competencies
  • Formation of young Peer Educators, who pass on their skills acquired in the Life Skills sessions to other young people
  • Public awareness raising campaigns and sensitisation of parents, teachers and politicians on the danger of alcohol and drugs.
Target Group:
Students of secondary schools, motor taxi drivers and youth outside the school context between 12 – 25 years.

In addition, the programme works with local leaders, teachers and parents.

Programme Countries:
Republic of Chad, Republic of Congo, Togo, Tansania

Funders and partners:
The programme is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Federal Department for Foreign Affairs FDFA, Bread for All, implementing partners, national IBC member organisations, private funds.

Budget / total volume:
1,2 Mio CHF for the actual programme phase



Alcohol consumption in Tanzania is at a problematic level and shows unhealthy patterns. Compared to the African average of 6,3 litres, the per capita consumption in Tanzania is with 9,4 litres of pure alcohol annually very high. Especially young people between 15 and 19 years engage in highly problematic consumption patterns: More than 70 % of the boys and around 35 % of the girls practise heavy episodic drinking, meaning they consume very high amounts of alcohol in a short time. In general, alcohol harm is a much bigger problem among the male population, roughly 62 % of women abstain completely from drinking alcohol, whereas only 32 % of men renounce alcohol in general. Nevertheless, alcohol harm is not a “men´s problem” in Tanzania. The alcohol consumption of a man has an impact on the social and economic situation of his family and often causes violence, poverty and bad mental and physical well-being for those dependant of him. Seeing the need for change, IBC has begun to implement its successful Life Skills Prevention programme with its local partner in Arusha in 2020.

Programme Phase

Local Partner organisation
Blue Cross Society Tansania



In Togo, young people under the age of 25 make up 60 percent of the total population. They are particularly susceptible to drug and alcohol consumption. More than 50 percent of the male and approximately five percent of the female population practise binge-drinking (excessive consumption of alcohol in the shortest possible time). Motorcycle taxi drivers in Togo are among the most affected and also the hardest to reach youngsters. Alcohol and the prescription drug "Tramadol" are readily available amongst them. Accidents which endanger not only the drivers themselves, but also their customers and passerbys are the consequence. The programme in Togo is based on IBC's programmes in the Republic of Chad and the Republic of the Congo which have both been very well received by the population and political decision-makers since 2013.

Programme Phase

Local Partner organisation
Blue Cross Togo


Republic of the Congo

Like other African states, the Republic of the Congo is experiencing very strong population growth. Children and young people under 25 years make up the majority of the total population and are especially vulnerable where alcohol and drug abuse is concerned. In addition to poverty and unemployment, family problems, difficulties in the social environment, peer pressure, lack of awareness of the dangers of alcohol, easy access to alcohol and insufficient law enforcement are all reasons to reach for the bottle. Since 2013 IBC has been implementing its Life Skills and Peer Education programme in middle schools of the capital Brazzaville. Together with national ministers and stakeholders from local organisations, Blue Cross members are present in a political forum to promote the inclusion of the programme into the national school curriculum of Congo.

Programme Phase

Local Partner Organisation
CTPAD (Coordination Technique des Projets et D’Appui au Développement Communautaire)


Republic of Chad

As in all IBC project countries, alcohol is one of the biggest obstacles to sustainable development in the Republic of Chad. With high urbanization pressure, many African societies are at risk for rising alcohol consumption rates. The Republic of Chad, the fifth largest country in Africa, hereby has a particularly high rate of alcohol consumption. On the one hand, 70 per cent of the population is abstinent. However, on the other hand, the remaining population’s consumption of annually 33.9 litres of pure alcohol makes it the country with the highest per capita rate in the world. Since 2013 IBC and the Blue Cross Chad conduct therefore the Life Skills and Peer Education Programme with vulnerable youth. Prevention activities include young motor taxi drivers. They are among the most severely affected and at the same time a “difficult to reach”-youth group. Denied the opportunity of an early education, they lack perspectives and are especially exposed to the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Currently, activities mainly take place in the capital city N´Djamena, with beginning expansion to further regions. As in our programme in the Republic of Congo, IBC and the local Blue Cross is taking part in a working group promoting the inclusion of the Life Skills and Peer Education Programme into the public school curriculum.

Programme Phase

Local Partner organisation
Croix-Bleue Tchadienne