Empowering Vulnerable Youth in Africa
Prevention through Life Skills and Peer Education
In response to the need for effective protection of young poeple slipping into addiction, IBC and its local partner and member organisations run the "Life Skills and Peer Education" programme. The holistic prevention programme for disadvantaged young people focuses on the topics of alcohol, drugs, gender-specific violence and HIV/AIDS.
By preventing youth from being harmed by alcohol and drugs, the programme decreases violence and disease in communities and enables the youths to lead healthier and fulfilled lives.
Three activities form the core of the programme:
Life Skills training, formation of young multipliers (Peer Educators), media and policy work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Republic of Chad, Republic of Congo, Togo
Funders and partners:
Swiss development funds from DEZA and Bread for All, implementing partners, national IBC member organisations, private funds.
Budget / total volume:
1,2 Mio CHF for the actual programme phase
Covid-19: Life Skills programme during the crisis
The activities of the “Life Skills” prevention program have been and are continuously being adapted to the requirements of the crisis. Schools in the project countries of Togo, Republic of the Congo and Chad remain closed for the time being and social isolation measures have been taken. In order to be there for the young people anyway, we coach the local employees in how they can continue to look after the participants as efficiently as possible, adapt to the new situation as quickly as possible and implement alternative offers. For example, a telephone hotline is currently being set up in Chad and Togo, through which the Blue Cross educators will specifically support and help young people to deal responsibly with the isolation and problems that they entail. In the Republic of the Congo, local employees are mainly involved in articles in the local media and produce information flyers that raise awareness among the population of responsible behavior.
Alcohol and domestic violence are problems that should not be underestimated in this context. In families, alcohol is increasingly consumed in isolation, which often leads to social tensions, up to acts of violence and generally irresponsible behavior with regard to the rules of "social distancing". Psychological problems arise or increase in isolation. Blue Cross educators can intervene in a regulatory manner and offer support - that's why the continuation of the Life Skills coaching is important! In addition, the pedagogues make sure to encourage people to take into account WHO recommendations on how to behave during Covid-19 pandemic.
Especially in poorer countries with poor health systems and social security structures, people depend on our support more than ever. We look forward to every donation -as modest as it may be!