Two separate programs – a five-year community safety initiative in Honduras and a youth training project in Tajikistan – have been awarded by USAID to Counterpart International’s Government Strengthening and Civil Society practice area.

Tajikistan: Inspiring youth

The new four-year Tajikistan Young Leaders (TYL) program will focus on encouraging youth to become socially conscious and take an active role in civil society, giving them ownership of their future and allowing them to contribute to the development of their communities. Approximately half of Tajikistan’s population is under the age of 18.

The program targets rural and semi-urban communities in the regions of Zerafshan Valley, Rasht Valley and Badakhshan where 70% of the rural population lives in abject poverty. Many of these areas are remote and difficult to get to; factors that will make this project all the more challenging.

Key program activities will include: initiating after school civic education; organizing youth exchanges, camps and national forums; and building the capacity of youth CSOs and networks.

This new project marks a return to Tajikistan for civil society and will facilitate cross practice area synergies between TYL and Counterpart’s current humanitarian assistance program in Tajikistan.

Beyond a progression of civil society in the region, these activities will lead to improved trust and a better perception of Tajikistan’s young people. By focusing and embracing their energy and ideas the Tajikistan Young Leaders program will inspire and empower the country’s youth.

Honduras: Involving communities in crime prevention

Meanwhile in Honduras, Counterpart hopes to improve citizen and community safety by strengthening local communities’ and government’s ability to prevent threats from gangs and drug traffickers. The public security situation in Honduras is one of the worst in the world, ranking among the top five nations with the highest number of violent crimes and murders per capita.

Unfortunately, crime and gang activity is a significant concern in Honduras. Rather than focusing solely on the problems at a judicial or institutional level, the initiative will involve community members and encourage more interaction with local authorities that will lead to more sustainable results.

The Community Action for Prosperity (CAP) component is part of the larger Citizen Participation for Responsive Governance program that will help communities to plan and implement activities that address the root causes of insecurity, with a particular focus on youth and other at-risk groups.

Activities will involve crime prevention; dialogue forums to raise policy issues with government officials; and increased networking, supporting and encouraging citizens (youth in particular) to take positive action and bring stability to their area.

Through these activities, CAP will build communities’ overall capacity to work collaboratively with municipal authorities, the private sector, civic organizations and patronatos (local councils).

Funded through GCSS LWA

Both programs were awarded to Counterpart under the Global Civil Society Strengthening Leader with Associates Agreement (GCSS LWA). Counterpart was awarded the GCSS LWA in 2009 and provides technical assistance, research, services and support for civil society projects.

The LWA mechanism allows Counterpart and its Consortium associates to implement a wide range of civil society, media development and program design and learning activities for USAID Missions around the world.

Already, Counterpart’s LWA has enabled USAID Missions to quickly program more than $92 million in civil society projects around the world, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Chad and India.

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