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Afghan Secure Futures (ASF) - Indirect Approaches to Youth Economic Development

Afghan Secure Futures (ASF) - Indirect Approaches to Youth Economic Development

This report draws on the experience of the Afghan Secure Futures (ASF) project to highlight several important technical considerations when employing indirect programming approaches to reach vulnerable youth. Its intended audiences are implementers and donors who are developing programming for vulnerable children and youth and considering entry points for interventions or pathways for economic inclusion. The report discusses each finding in turn and then presents conclusions.

ASF operated from 2008 to 2011 with a budget of $2.9 million. Implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and managed by FHI 360, the ASF project focused on improving the lives of as many as 1,000 vulnerable boys, mainly between the ages of 14 and 18, who were living in Kabul and working as apprentices in the construction sector. The project took an indirect approach to generating economic benefits for youth apprentices by focusing its economic interventions on the workshop owners that employ apprentices.

ASF was one of four field projects of the STRIVE program, managed by FHI 360 in partnership with Action for Enterprise (AFE), ACDI/VOCA, MEDA, Save the Children, the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland and USAID/DCOF. STRIVE implemented four field projects in Africa and Asia between 2008 and 2013. Each project pursued a unique economic strengthening approach, ranging from savings-led finance to workforce development to value chain interventions. Coupled with a robust monitoring and evaluation framework and learning strategy, STRIVE tracked and documented the impacts of these diverse interventions on child-level indicators related to both economic (financial), and non-economic (health, education, nutrition, etc.) vulnerability factors. As a result, STRIVE has sought to identify and demonstrate interventions that can sustainably increase household incomes and/or assets and document how such increases improve (or fail to improve) the lives of children.

This FIELD Report summarizes the findings of one of the STRIVE projects, MEDA’s Afghan Secure Futures (ASF) project, on using an indirect approach to reach and benefit youth in Afghanistan. It finds that indirect approaches can create both economic and social benefits for youth and that many questions remain on how to implement indirect approaches most effectively.