I have said elsewhere that, in ‘compliance’ with the Paris Declaration on Aid effectiveness and in the interest of optimal utilisation of limited resources, a ‘triad framework’ is needed in Africa. The proposed framework encourages countries to establish: i. one national youth development coordinating body; ii. one national strategy framework for youth development and iii. one monitoring, evaluation and data management framework.
The triad framework is not novel in that it draws extensively from UNAIDS’ ‘three-one’s principle’ which proposes similar mechanisms for HIV/AIDS efforts at national level. Like HIV/AIDS, youth development remains a salient aspect of national development in Africa, is multidimensional and requires a multi-sectoral approach. Thus it requires better coordination in order to maximise the impact of resources expended across sectors.
The current ‘youth sector’ is beset with many challenges. Its extensive implementation focus on what is mostly termed ‘youth empowerment and inclusion’ implementing programmes mainly aimed at enhancing youth ‘participation’ in economic and political domains of their societies, exemplifies its limited scope in actual delivery of programmes and services. This is because the ‘sectoral departments/ ministries’ do not have the mandate or means to implement the various thematic issues (for example education or health) proposed in the countries’ respective national youth policies and inter-departmental cooperation in this regard has remained the exception rather than the norm.
This leads me to question what the role of the youth departments should really be. Should it be coordination? Implementation? Monitoring and Evaluation? All of these roles? If so, do the current departments have the necessary capacity and competent staff to man these roles?
Within a triad framework, countries could establish a national youth development coordination body, which would in partnership with other departments, agencies and the youth themselves identify and provide strategic direction for youth policy, harness and effectively utilise existing capacities and resources, monitor and evaluate youth policy outcomes and outputs, and ensure that available resources are effectively utilised.
The proposal for a triad framework is not full-proof, as experience with the three ones principle and aid harmonisation efforts have shown that such initiatives could be fraught with various challenges. One of the foreseeable challenges is political ‘protectionism’ with each sector attempting to guard its control over resources. Several other challenges are identifiable, however, existing efforts agree with the fact that the benefits of better coordination far outweigh the challenges.
In the final analysis, the aim is for the optimal utilisation of scarce resources, reducing the amount of duplication across government departments and relevant development partners, improve the collection and management of disaggregated youth development data and increase the achievement of better youth policy outcomes.