Youths have energy, passion, and exuberance. So when 68 young people from three neighbouring countries in East Africa came together for an evaluation workshop then you know you are in for a ride.
And it was not disappointing!
Firstly, it needs to be mentioned that the three teams were from Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia; three of the most conflict torn countries in the African continent with years of civil war. The Darfur conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, the civil war and hunger that is ravaging South Sudan right now, and the recent upheaval or civil unrest that rocked Ethiopia are stark examples of this.
Secondly, we need to mention that this evaluation workshop marked the end of the Horn of Africa Leadership and Learning for Action Phase 2 (HOLLA II) which is funded by the European Union and is implemented by the British Council. The project aimed at giving young people across the Horn of Africa a platform to find innovative solutions to issues they and their communities face.
The first exercise of the meeting was actually analysing the socio-politico-economic situation in the respective countries through a contextual analysis. This was done by the 50 strong Youth Leaders in each country who were supported by HOLLA II.
Beverly Jones, an external evaluator who works at INTRAC , noted that this is the first time that she has ever seen a contextual analysis of a country by youths in the Horn of Africa.
Bush, who led the actual analysis and presentation of South Sudan contextual analysis, was applauded when he commented
‘We [youths] shouldn’t run away from problems but rather face them. Let's understand that if South Sudan is in trouble then Africa is in trouble. If South Sudan is doing better, then the Horn of Africa will do better’.
Bush’s presentation was also lauded by Beverly Jones as the best analysis about South Sudan that she has ever come across.
The Sudanese approach to the contextual analysis, which they presented after South Sudan, was also good in explaining important aspects of the country. Moreover, the Ethiopian team, which presented last, focused more on explaining a model that they have developed to do the contextual analysis and this was deemed important for the future as it can assist other teams do this exercise with ease.
On the final day of the three day event, another initiative of the HOLLA team, a website to help the HOLLA youth leaders network, share ideas and communicate with each other, was launched. You can access the website here http://hollayouth.net/
The second phase of Horn of Africa Leadership and Learning for Action (HOLLA II) project, which ran for one year, supported young people to become engaged in national and local development in three pilot countries: Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.