For decades, protracted conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have forcibly displaced more than 6 million people, destroyed community networks, and reinforced barriers to basic social services. Resource shortcomings and operational challenges plague the education system, leading to high rates of out-of-school children and youth. Approximately three quarters of the population are under 30 years of age and have limited access to education and employment. The Human Development Index defines 80% of Congolese households as meeting the standard for extreme poverty.
Between 2018 and 2022, EDC and its partners implemented the USAID/DRC-funded Integrated Youth Development Activity (IYDA). The project increased the resilience of vulnerable youth by strengthening access to alternative learning opportunities, critical life skills, and livelihoods support in conflict-affected urban and rural communities of North and South Kivu.
IYDA strengthened nonformal education and employment systems and supported work readiness and entrepreneurship activities. Project interventions included:
- Providing professional development and access to upgraded teaching and learning materials
- Integrating innovative approaches that strengthen youth leadership and employability skills using EDC’s Work Ready Now, Be Your Own Boss, and Work-Based Learning curricula
- Expanding civic participation and positive youth engagement in local communities
- Supporting youth-led income generation projects as well as access to community managed savings and internal credit mechanisms through mentorship and coaching opportunities
- Establishing a cohesive network of literacy volunteers that motivates learning beyond classroom instruction
- Increased the self-efficacy of 10,000 vulnerable youth
- Improved equitable access to basic education for 12,000 children and youth
- Supported 8,000 youth through employability and entrepreneurship training
- Reinforced the technical capacity of approximately 940 teachers, facilitators, school directors, inspectors, and youth literacy volunteers
A midline study of the project revealed:
- 53.1% of youth participants demonstrated improved resilience to conflict and violence.
- 57.4% of youth participants report a decreased propensity to engage in violence.
- 60.3% of youth participants demonstrated improved work readiness.
FHI 360; Catholic Relief Services; Souktel