Better education and vocational training are not enough to steer young people in Somalia away from radical and violent groups such as al-Shabab. Instead they must be combined with opportunities to take part in community and civic projects in order to reduce violence, a new report has found.
This is the main conclusion of the “Critical Choices” study by international aid agency Mercy Corps, which collates the findings of an impact evaluation of their five year USAID-funded Somali Youth Leaders Initiative.
The report found that interventions that combined secondary education with civic engagement opportunities — such as taking part in local sanitation and hygiene campaigns or planting trees in school grounds — led to a 14 percent reduction in young people’s propensity to participate in violence, and a 20 percent drop in their likelihood of supporting violence.
In contrast, the results showed that while better access to secondary education by itself reduced actual participation in acts of political violence, it actually increased ideological support for political violence.