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Community Contribution

Youth Resilience Activity Brings CLA to the National Stage in Historic Colombia Pact with Youth

Ricardo Amaya

In December 2020, ACDI/VOCA began implementing USAID's Youth Resilience Activity (YRA) to support youth in high-risk environments to reach their full potential as safe, productive, healthy, and engaged participants. Just a few months later, Colombia was rocked by nationwide protests catalyzed by an unpopular tax reform bill and exacerbated by months of strict lockdowns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Youth were at the forefront of this movement, leading demonstrations to demand government action on a range of social, economic, political, and environmental issues. In response, the national government launched the Colombia Pact with Youth to engage youth across the country in brainstorming collaborative solutions.

Swiftly adapting its programmatic course to meet this pressing need, YRA incorporated principles and practices from its existing CLA approach into the design and implementation of the Pact between May and August of 2021. Leveraging USAID and ACDI/VOCA's existing relationships with the public sector, YRA collaborated with the Colombian Family Welfare Institute to design an active listening methodology that was implemented during 502 dialogue sessions with more than 15,000 youth from across the country. YRA then implemented knowledge management practices, in close collaboration with the national Pontificia Javeriana University, to document and systematize 1,157 youth proposals in 12 action areas. This information has provided YRA and the government with a greater understanding of their target population, what they care about, and how to engage them. In response, the national government approved a US$9.2 million strategy for the implementation of programs that are expected to benefit an estimated 13 million youth over nine years. This commitment represents a concrete step toward YRA's overarching goal. Through the Pact, YRA also established connections and built trust with youth and government leaders that raised awareness of and positioned the Activity as a strategic partner in driving positive youth development in Colombia.

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