The mission of NEPI is to find solutions to extreme poverty and crime among youth (street youth, war affected youth and former combatants), build youth capacity and strengthen social, political and emotional empowerment of youth in Liberia.
NEPI engaged young people aged 10 – 24, to build a crime and violence-free society. We work with partners to develop and implement approaches that influence policies that result in a real, measurable reduction in organized crime, violent protests, communal violence, and drug use. We aim to empower hard-core street youth, and young people to be in charge of their own destinies. We endeavor to support local communities and national institutions to develop long-term collective approaches to reinforce their capacity to better respond to organized crime and violence reduction. We do what it takes to bring young people closer to society free from organized crime, violent protests, communal violence, and drug use.
YOUTH CRIME AND VIOLENCE
Our world is currently home to nearly 1.8 billion young people ages 10 – 24, more than any other time in human history. Many of them – nine out of ten – live in developing countries where economic, civic and social opportunities are insufficient to address the diverse needs of transitioning into mainstream societies. Others are facing this transition while living in a prolonged humanitarian crisis that presents significant challenges to their safety and well-being in the form of forced recruitment, organized crime violent protests, communal violence, drug use, and early marriage and pregnancy for adolescent girls.
Globally, youth affected by violence, either as a participant or observer, are more likely to continue violence behaviors, severely impacting countries, governments, communities, and individuals, especially youth themselves. In post-conflict and fragile states, crime and violence concentrate unreasonably among young men in low-income settings, with detrimental effects on these men and their victims. Many of these cities struggle to deal with large-scale urban violence, crime, and drug. These poor young men continue to be targeted for mobilization into election intimidation, rioting, and rebellion. In addition to these direct social costs, the uncertainty and risks of crime and violence can discourage economic growth. Various systemic factors contribute to these challenges, affecting not only these choices young men make but how they think about making those choices. While young adults in many contexts struggle to develop a positive identity or skills such as self-control, those who grow up in low-income or violent settings, and who are often targets for mobilization into violence, may have more at stake and receive less support.
These circumstances impede young people’s ability to contribute to their country’s growth and stability. Our greatest challenge today is to provide these young people with the capacities and opportunities they need to drive and sustain development. They demand our attention, support, and action.
YOUTH POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT
“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”
Thinking of poverty as violence shows how it actively causes harm, and how the problem is larger than just the money you earn: poverty reaches into every part of life. Over one billion people in the world today live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in developing countries, particularly in rural areas of low-income countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and the least developed countries. Poverty has various manifestations; hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion; it is also characterized by a lack of participation in decision making and in civil and socio-cultural life. Young people are particularly affected by this situation.
In conflict and post-conflict communities, economy and human resource capacity are not only destroyed but leave tens of thousands of youth unemployed. These at-risk youth are easily mobilized posing risks of broader social instability through participation in organized crime, violent protests, communal violence, and armed conflict. Leaving these problems unaddressed threatens the economic and political stability of conflict-affected communities as well as those of their neighbors. These youth are often recruited as mercenaries to fight in regional conflicts. Policing and job creation aim to reduce crime and violence by either changing the economic incentives open to these young men and women or incarcerating them. Yet neither of these policy prescriptions addresses the root cause nor have they been proven to be effective.
NEPI responds with a highly effective, evidence-based program, the Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia (STYL). It is designed to promote future orientation, self-discipline, and norms of non-violence, pro-social behavior with the goal of mainstreaming youth back into society.