"Yes, Youth Can!"
"Election violence strikes at the foundation of democratic institutions. Such violence or threat of violence can remove a candidate from contention, keep voters from polls, destroy political party offices, or otherwise impede the free will of participants in the process."
~ International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
Africa's Nascent Democracy
Africa's prospects for a better future continue to brighten as many countries in the region are beginning to reap the benefits of economic policy changes, improved governance and investments in key social sectors undertaken during the past decade. The number of free democracies in Africa has almost tripled from four to 11 over the past decade, and more than half of the remaining countries in the region are in the transition process toward full and free democracy (Freedom House).
The "winner take all", zero-sum game has become a major source of Africa's political and economic underdevelopment through exclusion and marginalization of the losers and the gluttonous sharing of the spoils through patronage-clientele political systems.
YTF is dedicated to empowering young people to build democracy among themselves and their communities. Through the active participation of young people, YTF works to instill in them critical thinking skills, a sense of self-esteem, responsibility, individuality and respect for people.
Despite a political transition to democracy in 1999, two-thirds of Nigeria's citizens still live in poverty. Corruption is endemic and Nigeria is perceived as the third most corrupt country of 102 (Transparency International). As many as 40% of urban youth are jobless and half of the adult population is illiterate. As Nigeria prepares for its 2011 elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has reassured Nigerians of his government's commitment to hold free and fair elections.
Democracy in Nigeria is still in its infancy. Military militias have been removed from power for less than 10 years; the majority of Nigeria citizens of voting age clearly remember the thirty-three years of the military's incidents of hazing, assassination and insecurity of life and property.
In 2008, Kenya had a highly ethnicised election that triggered political and ethnic violence resulting in as many as 1,100 deaths and over 300,000 displaced people. There was a massive destruction of property and the economy. With widespread fears of potential return to violence, Kenya faces its 2012 elections with uncertainty of the repeat violence. In the last elections, only 69% of registered voters actually turned out to vote.
YTF partners with grassroots organizations in Kenya to address the underying problems that fuel violent conflict as well as mitigating more immediate threats to peace and stability, often during cycles of conflict.
In Nigeria and Kenya, education remains at the core of national stability, security and an instrument for political and economic growth and development in any democratic society. Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations are taking full advantage of the tools available to demand accountability in government, observance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and inclusive political processes. As part of YTF's, Yes, Youth Can! program, voters are educated not only on how to vote, but on actual campaign issues.
Yes, Youth Can!
Yes, Youth Can! is a non-partisan, civic education program that combines workshops, youth-led activities and information and communications technology resources to enhance theoretical knowledge and deepen youths' understanding of activism, civic participation and the tenets of democracy. The program leverages an action based civics curriculum. Participants take effective action on concrete issues in their community by meeting with political leaders, producing short videos, leading issue campaigns and writing and publishing non-partisan articles.
Yes, Youth Can! uses simple, appropriate and affordable technology to promote social action and community development through electronic communications, "cyber-participation" and e-citizenship.
Yes, Youth Can! is designed to encourage open discussions among youth about the political and electoral process, and raise awareness about their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society. The workshops incorporate basic computer skills in teaching youth about political participation, the electoral process, the constitution and social advocacy.
Yes, Youth Can! is currently being implemented by YTF in Nigeria and is under review for replication in other conflict and fragile regions of Africa including Kenya, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
To learn more, please send an email to
This initiative is generously supported by: