Why Youth Fight

Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe

August 1, 2014

Making Sense of Youth Political Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Whether as victims or perpetrators, youth are often at the center of violent disputes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a growing youth population, combined with limited opportunities for self-development and participation in broader societal and political systems can create a volatile situation. Instability and conflict are still key challenges that many countries face, but it is unclear what motivates support or participation in political violence, particularly among youth. With this in mind, Mercy Corps collaborated with Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy to research the drivers of youth engagement in political violence in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries using survey data from Afrobarometer's public opinion polls. The findings reveal that the determinants of support and participation in political violence vary across context and require policy makers to look beyond traditional interventions to effectively reduce youth engagement in violent conflict.

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