Young Peacebuilders evaluated Search for Common Ground‘s (SFCG’s) nearly 3-year long project in West Africa titled, “Engaging Children and Youth as Partners in Preventing Violence against Children.” The aim of this project was to contribute to the eradication of violence against children and youth in three post-conflict countries of West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The youth peacebuilding project evaluation was lead by Young Peacebuilders Consultants Dr. Michael McGill and Pauline Zerla.
Youth Peacebuilding Project
SFCG’s project objectives were to: (1) identify the worst forms of violence against children; (2) Use recommendations made by the Youth Researchers to help influence country level programs and policies; (3) Share research findings and recommendations with key stakeholders and community members; and (4) Build the capacity of children and youth to prevent violence against their peers.
The evaluation used both qualitative and quantitative methods. This included document reviews, surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. There were 114 interview and focus group participants, and nearly 400 radio-listeners surveyed in each country. A total of 44 Youth Researchers and 35 other key stakeholders participated.
The project was extremely effective in empowering Youth Researchers and producing substantive youth-lead research reports. However, several factors hindered the project’s success and extended the time it took for completion. This included the Ebola outbreak between 2013 and 2016, along with financial and communication and coordination challenges.
The key success of this project was the involvement of Youth Researchers. Their participation was deeply meaningful to them and to the project’s success. Many children and youth felt their voice was being valued for the first time. Overall the project was successful in identifying the worst forms of violence against children. Extensive research reports were completed in all three countries and recommendations from children and youth were successfully shared with key stakeholders. A Guiding Manual on Prevention of Violence against Children was completed in Sierra Leone and a youth-led radio program was produced in all three countries.
Watch the Video Summary below to hear from some of the Youth Researchers about how they grew as peacebuilders!
The knowledge and skills Youth Researchers gained through their participation should be leveraged to contribute to SFCG’s future work. Awareness, distribution, and use of the Research Reports, Guiding Manuals, and the youth-led radio shows should be expanded for greater impact. Overall, community members would benefit from more follow up and meaningful ongoing inclusion.