The Intersection of Peace-Work & Development: A Case Study of Search for Common Ground’s Strategic Focus on Youth Unemployment in West Africa
Proliferate is the understanding that, in the post-war environment, reconciliation between the affected populations as well as the rebuilding of societal structures are both paramount to preventing a relapse into conflict. However, those persons and organizations that endeavor on such courses are often challenged to integrate programming approaches. This study attempts to focus a lens on the intersection of reconciliation and reconstruction from a peace-work perspective. By asking the broader inquiry of what peacebuilding can contribute to development and the actualization of human needs, the research, through a case study approach, will highlight the opportunities and challenges of how one post Cold-War organization specializing in peace-work, Search for Common Ground, is strategically and operationally addressing the of unemployed youth in West Africa.
The unemployment crisis at hand is blatant and bold. The inability of youth to access labor markets and generate a sustainable livelihood bodes ominously for sustained peace. The largest cohort of young people in history is populating the planet today. Simultaneously, the world is experiencing a vast economic crisis. Youth unemployment on a global scale is growing. The number of jobless youth is expected reach 15 percent this year, in 2009. The challenge is particularly acute in the post-war countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the unemployment rates are said to be 60 - 70% and 88%, respectively.
The following study will explore the landscape of this crisis, including the various programmatic responses, said causes and finally, the role of peace-work in addressing it. Ultimately, this inquiry hopes to locate the mutuality between peace-work and development work for the critical and chronic epidemic of young people seeking livelihood.