Ethiopian Baseline Report: COVID-19 and the Youth Question in Africa: Response, Impacts and Prevention Measures in the IGAD Region

The emergence of COVID-19, which has metamorphosed from a small outbreak to a global pandemic and a public health emergency of international concern, has resulted huge socio-economic impacts on poor countries like Ethiopia. Whilst epidemiologists and public health personnel are focused on the devastating health impacts, there is evidence to suggest that the widespread socio-economic and political impact of COVID-19 has adversely affected communities and economies especially among the young people. Young people in Africa have significant challenges realizing their rights during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are undergoing a lot of challenges such as climate change, state fragility, poor governance, economic and social inequalities and inequities, discriminatory social norms, human rights violations among others. Yet few countries offer opportunities for the youth to participate in political processes or in designing programs and policies that aim at addressing these issues. Also over half of youth policies are not designed to meet the unique needs of young people. There is increased focus within the development community on governance and its role in achieving better service delivery. Social accountability mechanisms play a key role in improving governance, increasing development effectiveness and promoting empowerment and can be applied to a number of fields and issues. In this regard, young people, women and men aged 15 to 35 years, should play a meaningful role in social accountability in their countries. Meaningful participation of young people especially the marginalized would strengthen implementation, improve outcomes and fulfill the right of young people to participate in shaping and monitoring decisions that affect them. The lockdown and social distancing have mostly affected the participation of young people in social, civic, political and economic activities. With high rates of unemployment, school closures and clos1`ure of informal sector activities, youth are bearing the brunt of this disease in more ways than the public health impact. It is against this background that the insights, experiences, perspectives of youth are important in COVID-19 responses. Focusing on young women and men from different socio-economic, political and cultural backgrounds, and from both urban and rural areas, high school and university students as well as youth living in streets and informal settlements, the research will generate evidence for policies and actions.