Social Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programmes creating Hope

Y4C Bashir

Bashir, 21, is a budding artist in Somalia’s Puntland region. Thanks to UNDP’s youth empowerment training Bashir discovered a passion for painting, and left his life of crime behind. Credit: UNDP Photo.

“My motto in life was fight, steal, and chew Qat. I did whatever to survive. I did not care about who I hurt in the process – the most important thing was that I got what I wanted,” Bashir says. He shakes his head gently as he reflects on his life before he enrolled UNDP’s youth empowerment programme.

Extreme poverty and lack of employment opportunities leave many young Somalis, like Bashir, with few prospects for the future.  Somalia’s youth (people between 14 and 29 years old) makes up 42% of the population. However, the unemployment rate for youth in Somalia is 67% - one of the highest rates in the world. Many vulnerable young people turn to crime, piracy, militias, or radical groups like al-Shabaab for income and a sense of purpose.

Reducing these risks for young people means ensuring improved security, greater access to jobs and increased educational opportunities for all Somalis. To begin to tackle high rates of unemployment, UNDP’s youth empowerment programmes provide employment and vocational training to enable young Somalis to enter the job market. This means providing alternative livelihoods and vocational trainings, which merge concepts of peacebuilding, leadership, development, and community security through engaging classes and in a welcoming environment. Many participants involved have criminal backgrounds, and the social reintegration and rehabilitation activities allowed them to turn their lives around.    

Y4ChangeStudents in a youth empowerment training are encouraged to explore the arts. Credit: UNDP/A. Lyne.

Youth employment training helps young people explore their options – opening up their choices and helping them realize their potential. Classes teach vital skills such as literacy, numeracy and Islamic education. Students are also encouraged to participate in sports, arts and community volunteer activities. Youth are also paired with mentors, which provide them with guidance and support. Participating in the programme helps build confidence and empowers young people to take control of their lives.

Today, at 21, Bashir is excited about his future. Through the reintegration project, he was able to find a new passion and gain the confidence and skills he needed to make a change. “Thanks to the youth empowerment programme, I discovered in the art and drama classes that I have talent for painting. More importantly, through the rehabilitation programme, I have learned how to deal with disputes without resorting to violence.”

UNDP works to strengthen Somali institutions and promote development. To this end, all social rehabilitation and reintegration activities are in line with the local government’s priorities towards poverty reduction and increased security. By the end of 2013, over 2175 people (including 329 women) have benefitted from UNDP’s social rehabilitation and integration programmes.