Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA) implemented a Taksvärkki supported project titled “Expanding the space: Socio-Economic Empowerment for Marginalized Rural Poor Youth” in Kakua and Bumpe Chiefdoms in Bo District in Sierra Leone during 2019–2021. The project aimed to support young people between 15 to 35 years including Persons with Disabilities to prepare them to play their rightful roles and responsibilities in contributing to meaningful community development. Under this project, CCYA has been working with young women and men, including Persons with Disabilities in promoting inclusion and participation in key decision-making processes both at local and national levels. Late 2021 an external evaluation was performed, in order to gain insights and learning towards the new program period of 2022–2025.
The study determined that the project was effective in contributing towards achieving its intended outcomes. According to the evaluation, project strategic partners noted that the uniqueness of the project centered on the fact that they were part of the design of the project from the onset, (their ideas were taken on board and helped to shape project activities). The impact of the project is a product of its responsiveness to the needs of youth including those with disability, and its ability to organise youth structures able to independently work towards enhancing their involvement in socio-economic activities.
The report states that young people gained confidence and boldness to talk about issues affecting them including teenage pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health, STIs, HIV/AIDS, and Female Genital Mutilation that used to be sacred topics. The project positively impacted the lives of women leading to increased number of women involved in agriculture. Women were able to acquire land something that was taboo at the onset of the project.
As a result of the project young Persons with Disabilities became more actively involved in governance activities thus improving their agency and activism. At national level, advocacy activities contributed to improved youth legislations and policies.
The evaluation remarks that the project positively impacted on patriarchy, shifting norms and attitudes towards respect for young people including women and PWDs. These changes in perceptions and attitudes that permeate society have influenced youth including young women and Persons with Disabilities’ participation in household, community and district decision making processes. The evaluation also noted a positive sustainability indicator from the collaboration between youth groups and different public service providers.
According to the report, the sustainability of the project is largely attributed to the outcome mapping and harvesting approaches employed in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Project activities were designed to help support boundary and strategic partners in acquiring the knowledge, responsibility and power necessary for sustainable behaviour change. As a result, primary project actors saw themselves as active project participants rather than recipients of development interventions, thus promoting sustained activism.
The full evaluation report is available from this link: Mid-Term Evaluation of the project