Youth in development cooperation

Focus on youth as the key to development

There are more young people today than ever before. A quarter of the world’s population, 1.8 billion people, are aged between 10 and 24. Almost 90 percent of them live in developing countries. The work of terre des hommes schweiz revolves around marginalised youth, because the advancement of youth is crucial for overcoming today’s global challenges.
A group picture with young people in front of a red wall.
Youth are excellent at driving development. They have a great desire for change.

Children and youth make up the majority of the population in the world’s 48 least developed countries. This represents a huge potential for these countries. However, it can only be turned into an opportunity for development if those young people receive an education, are free to make their own decisions and have access to healthcare. Before they can unleash their potential, the right groundwork needs to be laid. As it stands, youth are exposed to significant dangers, particularly in our project countries. They are affected by certain health risks that can have a negative impact on both their immediate future and the rest of their lives.

Exposed to various dangers
There is major need for action in many countries, particularly in relation to sexual and reproductive health and the rights of adolescent girls (see right column). Youth are also especially affected by unemployment. High youth unemployment is a huge challenge in all our project countries.

Youth power can drive development
terre des hommes schweiz helps youth to develop their skills, so that they can make use their potential as agents of change. A common theme throughout the projects is that youth are making themselves heard in local and national political processes. They are being supported to actively stand up for their rights. Through targeted assistance, youth initiatives and organisations frequently gain their own impressive momentum. The projects have shown that sustainable engagement is possible when youth are given the opportunity to define what they believe are the most urgent problems and can develop their own potential solutions.

Against discrimination and marginalisation
To improve young people’s status in society, terre des hommes schweiz supports projects that help change the negative image of youth. Young people from disadvantaged communities are often labelled as violent, which serves to bolster the vicious circle of violence. The downward spiral of social marginalisation can be broken if youth gain a sense of identity and belonging through youth groups. If young people join forces and take action, they can affect great change.

Sexual and reproductive health

Pregnant girls or young mothers in our programme countries Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and El Salvador are being systematically excluded from the education system. 15 percent of the estimated 22 million unsafe abortions per yearaffect young teenagers aged between 15 and 19 and 26 percent young women from 20 to 24 years. In our programme countries, it is young people who are most at risk of becoming victims of violence. According to World Health Organization estimates, 30 percent of adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 worldwide are victims of violence by their partners.


More about our Key Project Area Health