We will realize our dreams will bridge peace, planet and prosperity by working with indigenous youth affected by the civil war in Chahal municipality through youth village savings and loan associations that will enable economic empowerment and restore the social capital with a deep focus on the adaptation to climate change that threatens food security in the region. The project is based upon our experience with a similar pilot in a neighboring municipality, Ixcan, also severely affected by the civil conflict. We are basing the objectives and outcomes for this project on our learning from the pilot and including areas in which we would like to strengthen the approach. These include incorporating boys and having a stronger focus on environmental aspects while continuing to adapt the financial model to youth needs. The pilot worked exclusively with girls however, managing the project to ensure that boys do not dominate the project and maintaining safe spaces for girls to speak about delicate issues, our objective is for adolescents to be guided in more constructive and collaborative gender roles to reduce abuse and tensions as they grow older. In the pilot we addressed issues of food security by ensuring that all families planted a kitchen garden to supplement their nutritious inputs and introducing ‘super foods’ with high nutritional value into their diet. Many of the youth engaged in agricultural livelihood activities. As local governments are exploring new crops and ‘super foods’ to adapt to climatic changes that are reducing the production of traditional foods, we believe we can deliberately respond to this market through livelihood activities for the youth groups. For example they could cultivate Maringa or other foods that could then be sold to municipalities for distribution, or specialize in preparing these foods and selling them at market. Finally, we can address some of the adaptations of the Graduation Approach that has been demonstrated to work with older groups to ensure that there is no inadvertent harm done to youth due to their participation (for example, how can we ensure that income generation activities are not valued over school attendance).
“We will realize our dreams” includes the following objectives:
- Prosperity: Support 400 indigenous youth in Chahal, Guatemala to form Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to establish savings, small livelihood activities and develop decision-making skills.
- Planet: Increase food security through inclusion of kitchen gardens in the livelihood activities and identify other agricultural activities that will contribute to sustainable food security through adaptation to climate change.
- Peace: involve adolescent men and women in VSLAs to foster stronger collaborative gender relationships from an early age and foster transparency and trust in the community.
- Prosperity, Planet and Peace: Promote peer learning and exchanges of youth project participants from Ixcan (site of the pilot) and Chahal (new area) to secure and advance the above objectives and connect to national youth movements around these themes.
"We will realize our dreams": Economic strengthening, reweaving social fabric, and adapting to climate change amongst indigenous youth in rural Guatemala will help support the adolescents in responding to these conditions and charting a course for their future. This project builds on the pilot project in Ixcan with similar objectives. Results from the pilot concrete gains in increasing income, food security and building social capital and decision-making amongst indigenous youth.
- 80% of participants had at least a 20% profit margin in their livelihood activities.
- Over one year, the participants generated an average of US$291 each
- 34% of participants reached the goal of earning US$340
- 19% of participants saved at least US$54
- 81% of participants continued in the second cycle of savings
These figures from the pilot demonstrate that the Graduation Approach has significant relevance for youth and can be adapted to their needs. The youth were able to capture the methodology and manage the groups and we are confident that with some technical adjustments the percentage of youth that earn and save in the project will improve (these results were after only one 12 month cycle). The overwhelming number of participants who desire to continue demonstrates that there are other social and learning benefits that they see in their participation in the savings groups.
Human Capital indicators:
- At the end of the project 95% of the households either didn’t have or had very little incidence of hunger versus 80% at the beginning
- Consumption of meat increased by 73% from the begining to the end of the program
- 73% of households now have healthier eating habits including the consumption of fruits and vegetables
- 100% of participants now have kitchen gardens
- They cultivate 23 species of plants at the end of the project compared to 9 species in the beginning
- 97% cultivate more high nutritional foods
- 82% of participants consume and sell nutritional foods at the end of the project as compared to 37% at the beginning
These statistics demonstrate that food security and nutrition increased over the course of the project and these gains can be built upon and improved. The changes in cultivation of nutritious species and the increased variety demonstrate the advances made in introducing new crops that support adaptation to climate change and the potential for these crops to be both consumed and sold. This latter aspect can be further developed in this project.
- 97% of youth had an active role in decision making at the household level compared to 14% at the baseline
- 68% had a future plan at the end of the project compared to 45% who had one at the beginning
The primary focus of the initial pilot was to demonstrate that youth could manage the savings methodology. "We will realize our dreams" will strengthen interventions at the social level including adolescent boys to shift to more collaborative gender relations and engage the youth in pursuing the collective actions they identified to improve the lives of the members of their group and community through fostering greater social cohesion.
Proposed project budget
"We will realize our dreams" projects a budget of approximately $400,000 over three years to work with 400 youth in the municipality of Chahal to deliver the objectives above and support peer learning and connections to large youth movements in the country. Key activities will include:
Participant costs ($250,000) – including support and coaching in utilizing the Graduation Approach through Village Savings and Loans for extremely poor and vulnerable indigenous youth in rural Chahal. This includes seed capital for youth to begin their own livelihood activities.
Regional and national Youth Encounters ($30,000) – this will enable peer exchanges and learning visits between youth in the two municipalities and also provide for one annual regional (in Guatemala) youth conference.
Political Influence ($25,000) – this will include national events with the national youth group and the preparation of materials and documents to promote a youth led agenda based on their experience in the project.
Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation ($30,000)– this will include involving youth in participatory action research as well as standard monitoring and evaluation of project advances on a digital platform. An external study of the project is also contemplated here.
Project Management ($65,000) – this will include project staffing and management.