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IREX Welcomes USAID’s New Policy for Youth in Development

African Youth Volunteer with the Bus Project in Liberia

Yesterday, USAID launched their first-ever policy for Youth in Development. The policy provides a framework to address youth systematically in line with proven best practices to support, protect, prepare, and engage youth to help them to achieve the best future for themselves and their communities and nations. The policy also provides guidance for integrating youth in core agency initiatives, bringing youth to the forefront of USAID’s work across all sectors.

In IREX’s work in over 125 countries, time and again, we encounter the exceptional creativity, dedication, and passion that young people bring to their efforts to change their communities and nations. Youth engaged in a reconciliation program in Rwanda developed local-level sustainable livelihood initiatives, recognizing that poverty remains a root cause of conflict in the country. A young Liberian NGO leader created the Liberian Bus Project -  a nationwide campaign to catalyze political change through grassroots youth engagement. In a recent program evaluation Romanian, Moldovan, and Roma youth voiced their experiences breaking down stereotypes and gave recommendations to extend the program’s impact.

In today’s world, over half of the global population is under age 30 and, in the countries where we work, that percentage is often significantly higher. IREX firmly believes that all good development must be designed not only to be relevant to youth, but also must account for the priorities of youth, bring youth into leadership roles in the process, and provide customized supports and opportunities; and that our responsibilities include helping our partners and local leaders find innovative ways to engage their own youth populations in development efforts.

I applaud USAID’s commitment to elevating today’s youth cohort, to recognizing the incredible diversity within this demographic, and to encouraging the agency, partners and implementers to find creative ways to prioritize the needs and draw on the assets of youth across their entire portfolio. As an active member of the Alliance for International Youth Development, IREX looks forward to collaborating with the agency and partners around the world to build stronger opportunities for youth, help stakeholders learn more about what youth need to succeed, and develop the skills and talents of young people and those who support them to create a better future for us all.