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.
OUR KEY ACCOMPLISHMENT AND IMPACTS
5.1.1 How our Transformation Work Supports our Strategy
Our work contributes to the change our intervention creates in society by transforming the lives of poor, vulnerable hard-core street youth from extreme poverty, crime, and violence to productive members of local communities. Our transformation work had changed behavior by enhancing knowledge, skills, and attitude to socially, and economically empower hard-core street youth and break the cycle of violence and crime among youth.
STYL’s effectiveness in rehabilitating the hardest to reach youth attracted the attention of international researchers who wanted to determine, through a rigorous scientific study, if STYL was the cause of these youth forgoing crime. And if yes, what elements made this training effective. The program designed focus on two different treatments to test two different theories of poverty and violence in order to scientifically test STYL’s effectiveness. The intervention engages behavior roots with the transformation program and economic roots by providing a capital injection and unconditional cash grant.
The researchers - from Columbia University, Harvard Medical School, and IPA - conducted an RCT, the gold standard in quantitative research with a sample of 1,000 youth, into treatment assigned by lottery, placing them into four groups:
1. 25% of the youth receive the transformation program training and a $200 unconditional cash transfer to do business;
2. 25% of the youth receive a $200 unconditional cash transfer only;
3. 25% of the youth receive transformation program training only; and
4. 25% of the youth did not receive any interventions. This fourth group of youth is the control group.
5.1.2 Contribution to the Reduction of youth crime and Violence
Our impact is to create a society free from youth crime and violence. STYL led to significant decreases in crime, drug use, and violence for participants. The results confirmed that investments in programs that focus on self-control and self-image can help to reduce crime and violence among youth. Researchers found out that just the offer of therapy had huge impacts. Issues of crime, carrying a weapon, fight with each other and with the police, arrests, and even things as simple as losing your temper — they dropped by 20 to 50 percent within a few weeks of finishing the therapy. After a year, these effects had started to dissipate if the men got therapy alone. But if they got cash after the therapy, the effects stayed steady or grew.
The cash grant is both a treatment and measurement tools to evaluate the effect of the transformation program. 50% of the program participants receive the unconditional cash grant in total. Of that amount, participants spent:
• 20% on savings and debt payments,
• 23% on business investments and expenses,
• 8% of the cash on their own health and education,
• 28% of the cash on consumption and rent,
• 6% on durable assets,
• 4% on drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex, and
• 11% on gifts and transfers.
The evaluation found that the young men largely invested and saved a substantial fraction of the unconditional cash transfer. Results suggest that character skills and self-image remain malleable and that STYL is a powerful tool to reduce poverty, crime and violence in fragile states.
Over the next five years, NEPI will focus on providing cognitive behavior therapy and cash transfer to at-risk youth. NEPI will strive for a world where the lives of high core street youths are transformed from crime, and violence and are socially and economically empowered into peaceful and inclusive societies. We do this by working with poor and vulnerable youth in Africa and the world. We constantly search for more effective solutions, to crime and violence while sharing our knowledge and expertise with the world. We push for long-term change. We will strive until we find solutions to youth crime, and violence and contribute to reducing extreme poverty, in societies across the world.