1. What steps will you take to ensure better outcomes for the children in this community?

After having made initial contact with the community as a whole and with specific leaders, we should carry out several steps including:

(a) A baseline study assessing specific variables, such as rates of STIs and teen pregnancies or youth involvement in gangs, to be able to measure and compare results after the implementation of interventions/programs;

(b) A market analysis in order to identify possible sectors where there is job creation potential or value added potential. Partnerships can be formed with local or national businesses to provide further support and training of youth who can later enter that specific workforce (e.g., agricultural). Also, assessing what job markets are available can minimize further discrimination or negative feelings towards returnees whose return may be pushing out existing community members from their current employment positions.

(c) An assessment of social and market forces within the community to identify the needs and gaps within that specific community, and using this information to rebuild/strengthen the infrastructure and to design livelihood and education programs for youth leading to viable employment. Facilitating discussions within the community would strengthen the group as a whole rather than focusing solely on the returnees and possibly subjecting them to further discrimination.

(d) Facilitate participatory focus groups to identify the wants of and barriers faced by the vulnerable children groups. Encouraging direct input from youth themselves will result in having more valuable information to guide program development and foster greater commitment within the community.

e) Conduct on-going monitoring and follow-up of implemented programs to identify what interventions are working and to improve or modify those that are not.

We will also look at the broader framework to identify possible partners within the formal sector, recognize legal impediments that might hinder our project (in particular with regards to land ownership), gain knowledge about the presence or absence of complementary government or NGO programs in sectors such as health and education, and become familiar with the existence of long-term social safety nets. Working with the government will encourage them to invest in and help to rebuild infrastructure in the area. For example, the government can finance the rebuilding of roads in the area, thus increasing job prospects for local people.

In addition, we should attempt to capture the cause behind existing problems such as GBV, forced labor and violence amongst youth and in particular with regards to returnees. Doing so would shed light on whether the problem is mainly economic or due to other issues at play, such as discrimination against returnees or a difference in attitudes due to time spent abroad. We would assess the feelings/perceptions/biases of the community as a whole with regards to the returnees and could facilitate dialogue between returnees and non-returnees in Papua Koala. Attention needs to be paid to ensure that livelihood programs provide a wide variety of opportunities for youth so that they are not all trained with the same skill sets, resulting in flooding of the market and decreased job opportunities.

2. What specific approaches will you take to address the needs of the various groups?

Having flexible or accelerated learning programs for youth would be important to encourage wide participation. These programs will combine general life skills and practical skills. It is unreasonable to believe that given the existing conditions children will be able to give up work completely. Also, there may be older youth who were unable to complete primary schooling, so having classes in which they are with similar-aged peers rather than younger children would increase their comfort level and continued attendance at school. It is therefore important to adapt the schedule and the curriculum to the specific needs of the children.

Similarly, having programs that specifically address the needs of females is vital to increasing their participation in these programs, which has thus far not been very successful. Providing child care, separate bathrooms, sanitary supplies, and ensuring their safety both within the program as well as on their way travelling to and from the programs will be helpful strategies. Also, engaging them in internships or skills training programs that equip them with viable economic alternatives can keep them from resorting to exchanging sex for goods.

In addition, we will explore opportunities to empower youth through the provision of leadership opportunities in social or leisure activities (e.g., soccer) or through direct participation in the work carried out by the INGO, such as through internships. Providing opportunities for the emergence of positive role models amongst the youth population can play an important role in helping to change public perception in the community. Older youth can mentor younger children in the programs, who will then fill that role when they become old enough, thus increasing the dedication and sense of commitment to these programs within the community, while simultaneously instilling leadership skills. We will also carry out awareness-raising activities in the timber and mining sectors where children are employed to help minimize the risks associated with this type of work.

Creating youth-friendly recreational facilities will provide a gathering space for young people where important information can be disseminated without stigma attached to it. For example, youth may not wish to go to a family planning clinic due to fears that people within the community will find out; however, if there is a clinic or staff knowledgeable about reproductive health issues within a youth recreational center, young people could more easily access such services in a confidential manner.

Working with other existing organizations can be crucial in providing needed services, such as school meals or other health-related interventions, in the programs to ensure that young people are healthy enough to work. Mechanisms can also be put into place to facilitate conflict resolution between returnees and the local population. Utilizing a participatory approach from the youth and having them identify problems specifically affecting them (e.g., why teen pregnancy rates are so high, what job skills young people need, or why attendance at girl-targeted programs is so low) is vital in designing appropriate and effective livelihood programs for them.

3. What actors will you work with to ensure success?

It is important to work with all local actors (governmental, NGOs, etc) and to work directly with the private sector. Within the community, involving youth themselves, particularly marginalized youth (e.g., out-of-work youth, girls), and community-based organizations (e.g., women’s collectives, local councils, religious/traditional leaders, and local political figures) will provide a stronger foundation and foster a greater sense of commitment for any implemented programs or interventions.

4. How will you prove that your projects are working?

We would clearly define the indicators to assess and that would be the most valid measures of improvement. We will compare baseline data collected during assessment with data obtained once programs have been implemented to determine if the programs had any impact on indicators, such as reproductive health (e.g., reduced rates of STIs, teen pregnancy), GBV, etc. Feedback about the results from these comparisons or other surveys should be shared regularly with program planning organizations and community leaders to keep them informed and involved and to facilitate community support for such programs. Measures to track the activity of youth completing the programs can be utilized as well to determine whether or not they are using the skills obtained through their training.