Promoting youth livelihoods as a strategy for protecting Burundian refugee youth: A case study from Mahama camp, Rwanda
This case study describes an innovative youth livelihoods project that was implemented in Mahama refugee camp, Rwanda, to strengthen the resilience and protection of 400 young Burundian refugees between 18 and 30 years old.
Between April and July 2015, over 150,000 people fled Burundi to neighbouring countries after civil unrest and policitcal violence. Three years later, over 90,000 Burundian children, young people and adults still reside in Rwanda. Nearly 58,000 live in Rwanda’s largest refugee camp Mahama. Young women and men in Mahama camp are facing extreme hardships. The majority of them have missed years of education and have little or no skills as they enter into adulthood, severely limiting their livelihoods opportunities.
The economic dependency of young women on their families and spouses makes them more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. In 2017, Plan International Rwanda started a youth livelihoods programme in the camp to support 400 vulnerable young women and men between 18 and 30 years old, including many survivors of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation. Vocational trainings and income generating activities supported 282 young women and 118 young men with technical and saving skills and support to become economically self-sufficient. The livelihoods activities were coupled with psychosocial support activities to increase young women’s and men’s socio-emotional skills, confidence and hope for the future.