SAfA: Releasing the potentials of African youth with a new and innovative initiative

Written By:Jesko Johannsen
Date:29 July 2020

At Hanns R. Neumannn Stiftung (HRNS) we strongly believe that the young generation is required for shaping future globally and that their challenges can only be effectively addressed and turned into opportunities collectively by combining relevant fields of expertise. Especially youth in rural African regions need to tackle challenges in several areas of daily life to realize their visions and dreams. Integrating our skills and working together, we can raise the relevance of our offer and come closer to meeting the needs of youth und unlocking their potential. Therefore – with Ethiopia as a first project region – HRNS is part of the Stiftungsallianz für Afrika (Foundations Alliance for Africa).

The four foundations, Max and Ingeburg Herz Stiftung, Kühne Stiftung, Rossmann Stiftung and Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, founded SAfA as a non-profit limited liability company in July 2020 in Hamburg, Germany. Their overarching vision is to improve the living conditions of young people in rural and urban areas of the project countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To achieve that, the foundations are committed to projects and programs in the long-term taking account of dynamics in development processes and preparing ground for scaling.

safa partner organizations

SAfA’s vision: “Youth are drivers for thriving societies in Africa”

The alliance is open to like-minded other foundations and implementers as members or associated partners.

In Ethiopia, the integrated project approach of SAfA in partnership with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) contributes to improving the livelihoods of young people in mainly rural and partly urban areas of the country. It is focusing on income generation, professionalization and vocational training, as well as needs-based health care, sexual and reproductive health and rights including family planning services. The total budget is expected to be EUR 12 million for a four-year project duration. The key target group consists of young women and men aged 15 to 29 years (official definition of young people in Ethiopia: Youth Policy Ethiopia 2004), it also includes parents, (university) teachers, community representatives and relevant stakeholders, including actors in supply chains and logistics, district administrations, health facilities and other institutions.

The aim of this collaborative initiative is to pool respective expertise and to contribute to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of development processes. The complementarity of the different foundation goals, experiences and existing networks represent significant added value. In addition to project implementation by the SAfA members itself, other organizations and stakeholders are invited to join the cooperation to enhance the potential of synergies and to boost impact. Overall SAfA aims to contribute to poverty reduction and the mitigation of root causes of migration by creating attractive prospects in particular in rural areas for the rapidly growing young population in Sub-Sahara Africa.

With a current population of 108 million and a median age of just under 20 (60% are under 25 years old), Ethiopia is not only one of the most populous countries in Africa, but also among the youngest populations worldwide. UNFPA projections expect the population to grow to around 160 million in 2035. The country has one of Africa’s largest economies, with a GDP of USD 81 billion (2017) and mainly double-digit rates of economic growth over the past decade. Although the poverty rate was reduced by around 50% over the past 20 years, the per capita GDP is still only at USD 768, making Ethiopia one of the poorest countries in the world. Youth unemployment is at 25%, which affects young women more (30%) than young men (17%) and highlights significant gender inequality. (Population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Unemployment: CIA Factbook)

Economically attractive opportunities and adequate access to market-oriented vocational and professional education are lacking for this young generation. Insufficient basic education (school graduation rate 54%) and rural-urban disparities (literacy rate of rural 31% versus urban women 78%) are an additional challenge to training and qualification measures. (Graduation rate: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS); Literacy Rate: ETHIOinfo Dashboard)

Agriculture in Ethiopia

Agriculture as well as other sectors are also suffering from deficits in logistics, transport and supply chains; and Ethiopia ranks 126 out of 160 countries in a global ranking of logistics performance (Logistics Performance Index (LPI) of the World Bank 2016). This inhibits economic activities and commodity flows and creates avoidable losses, such as around 35% post-harvest losses of food produce (Studies of the Kühne Foundation for the FAO and IFAD). In addition to the negative consequences for the economy as a whole and for the agricultural sector in particular, the deficiencies in logistics also contribute to poor health services, particularly in rural areas.

Source: Share of coffee / exports: CIA Factbook; Number of people in coffee sector: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Facts about Agriculture in Ethiopia

Health in Ethiopia

UNAIDS reports an HIV prevalence rate of 1% in Ethiopia, whereby women are affected above average: out of 650,000 people living with HIV in Ethiopia, 63.8% are women. Young women between the age of 15 and 24 years are more than twice as likely to get infected than young men. In large parts of Ethiopia discriminatory and damaging traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation (65% of the age group 15 to 49), early marriages (mainly in rural areas) and teenage pregnancies are still common. (FGM: Terre des Femmes, Human Rights for Women, Country Info Ethiopia.)

Source: Health expenditure, use of contraceptives: CIA Factbook; Fertility rate: Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey 2016.

Facts about Health in Ethiopia

The pilot in Ethiopia focusses on three components:

Component 1:

Young women and men have improved their economic situation through employment in agricultural value chains and other sectors.

Component 2:

Actors from different value chains as well as young people are qualified through market-oriented vocational training in the areas of logistics, transport and supply chain management.

Component 3:

Availability and utilization of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services including methods of family planning for young women and men has improved.

The integrated project approach of three main components stems from the core competencies of the foundations and their local partners. Synergies are created through joint planning and implementation whenever possible and opportune. In the two project regions Amhara and Oromia, Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, Max and Ingeburg Herz Stiftung and Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) – implementation partner of the Rossmann Stiftung – are already active with their teams and established networks; in Addis Ababa and surrounding area the same applies to the Kühne Stiftung. Operating out of joint project offices will allow to better coordinate the project activities and to systematically reach out to the respective target groups. Independent monitoring and evaluation will accompany the intervention and by continuously assessing the project´s impact it will enable joint learning of the partners involved as well as other stakeholders.

HRNS and DSW will contribute relevant knowledge from the TeamUp program in Uganda which works in a comparable setup since 2018. Here the aim is to reach 50.000 rural youth with support in the areas of agriculture, water and health. TeamUp is implemented together with Siemens Stiftung and the local partners Action for Health UgandaWhave and HRNS Uganda in partnership with the BMZ.