IOM Provides Peer Education and Life Skills Training to Youth Centers and Government Bureaus in Ethiopia

Tigray Regional State-Ethiopia - IOM, the UN migration agency, has provided peer education and life skills training to 138 participants, including coordinators of 20 youth centers, 20 schools and officials of the Bureau of Youth and Sport, and Bureau of Education. The objective of the trainings is to interrogate the root causes of irregular migration from the areas surrounding the youth centers.

IOM has a unique approach to tackling irregular migration of young people out of Ethiopia; this approach focuses on holding behavioral change conversations with young people at youth centers. Through these engagements, young people are provided with information regarding migration, including the dangers of irregular migration and available channels for regular migration. The seven youth centers which IOM targeted with peer education and life skills trainings are located in towns that are prone to irregular migration, according to an assessment which was conducted by IOM. The seven towns include Alamata, Mekelle, Shire, Adigrat, Axum, Maichew and Adwa. IOM has carried out similar peer education and life skills trainings in Oromia, Amhara and Somali Regional States: Plans are underway to launch the same trainings in the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPR). That notwithstanding, challenges in working through youth centers persist. Despite the presence of thousands of youth centers in Ethiopia, lack of regular recreational activities and informational materials impede regular and systematic engagement of young people. 

In appreciation of IOM’s engagement with young people through youth centers, Frehiwot Feleke, a 23-year old youth coordinator said, “The training we receive here is vital, and there are many young people like me from universities attending this youth center. The use of such creative approaches, including theatre and informational material to bring awareness about the dangers of irregular migration are very effective. My colleagues and I are living examples of the positive impact of this type of engagement.” 

Aragaw Kasaye, a returnee who set up a barbershop in Alamata, agrees with Frehiwot. He says that, “At first I thought there were no options here in Alamata. I sold my barbershop equipment and cow to launch an irregular migration journey through Bossaso to Yemen and crossed over to Saudi Arabia.” On his way, this 28-year-old witnessed the death of four Ethiopians on a congested boat. Aragaw spent ETB 31,000 (approximately USD 1,125) to get to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia only to be deported three months later. He was quite frustrated with the turnout of events as he expected to get work in the construction sector but instead ended up herding goats for a meagre salary. Moreover, his family in Ethiopia rears cattle which he had never had interest in minding. He found it ironic that he had to work as a goat herder after such a perilous journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since he started his new barber business in Ethiopia -- which he started with the support of a microfinance institution -- he is able to take care of his family. Currently, he serves as one of the peer educators who are raising awareness about irregular migration through IOM-supported activities at the youth center in Alamata.

Through this youth center- based approach to engaging young people, IOM has brought together various partners working on issues of irregular migration in Ethiopia. Accordingly Catholic Church managed Bruh Tesfa Youth Development Center has shared its experience with the participants. Hagos Lemlem, a youth coordinator for the Regional Children and Youth Bureau, says that, “In addition to the material and skills support IOM has provided networking options for us with other partners such as the Catholic Church managed Bruh Tesfa Youth Development Center, which is invaluable to us.”

The project entitled "Enhancing Migration Management in Ethiopia and Promoting Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Ethiopians” is funded by Danish Embassy and implemented by the International Organization for Migration in collaboration with Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth.

For more information, please contact IOM SLO National Communication Officer Alemayehu Seifeselassie

IOM staff conducting peer education and life skills training in Adigrat, Tigray Regional State-Ethiopia.
Participants of the peer education and life skills training in Adigrat, Tigray Regional State-Ethiopia.