Engaging local youths in humanitarian response is not a matter of if but how

J Int Humanit Action. 2022;7(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s41018-022-00118-x. Epub 2022 Apr 2.


Despite being critical responders in humanitarian crises, local youths are continually left out of the humanitarian action agenda. This paper used a qualitative methodology to investigate local youths' role in humanitarian response and their impacts and assessed how humanitarian actors influence the effectiveness of youth engagement. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with local youths who participated in the Ebola response in Sierra Leone. Findings showed that young people are significantly contributing to crises response. However, they lack an enabling environment and support system to convert their skills into valuable humanitarian resources efficiently. Therefore, despite the rhetoric that many reports and policies reflect, this study establishes that the realities of youth engagement in humanitarian activities are often misunderstood and controlled for the self-interest of different actors other than youths themselves. It advocates for a renewed focus and support for young people's skills as paramount for effective humanitarian response and building back resilient communities after emergencies. Besides, engaging local youths in tackling crises empowers them with transferable skills and stimulates their passion for participating in development issues within their communities.

Keywords: Humanitarian actors; Humanitarian/crises/emergency response; Local youths.