A Peaceful Africa Fit for Children

If we want to have real peace in the world, we have to start with children. |Mahatma Gandhi|

By Constance Ndeleko

We need to start engaging young people in peace missions as they constitute the largest population in Africa accounting for almost 65% of the continents’ population.

Six out of the ten worst countries for children in conflict are in Africa- which is already more than half; and two of the six are  within the Great Lakes Region.


We the young people are the future of tomorrow and we need to decouple morals that intend to sabotage our wellbeing and uphold values that will build and spearhead our communities, nations and world into a holistic standpoint of cohesion and unity.

Recent reports indicate that; Young people are still excluded from decision making processes; whether political, economic or social issues. If we want to build an Africa fit for children and a world that thrives peacefully; we need to invest in young people by engaging with them, we need to engage sufficiently in peace work missions. It starts with me and you. It starts from the foundational grounds by teaching our children the importance of peace.

Young women and men can and do play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change. The recently adopted Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security marks the formal recognition of the positive role young women and men for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The world’s youth population has certainly been on the rise – there are currently 1.2 billion youth (aged 15- 24) in the world, the largest number of youth ever to have existed (18 per cent of the world’s population) and there will be 72 million more youth by 2025. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa have very high youth populations relative to their total populations.

The number of children living in conflict zones is highest in Africa, with 170 million in total.  Simply, conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for children. Since 2010, the number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 34%.

Young people can be important drivers and agents of change in the development of their societies. This may be because they demonstrate openness to change, feedback and learning; tend to be more future-oriented; more idealistic and innovative; and more willing to take risks.

The inclusion of young people in peace building processes is bound to facilitate sustainable peace in a society, by redirecting the energies of young people to the implementation of constructive peace projects. Incorporation and utilization of youths in peace building processes would facilitate their transformation from agents of violent conflict, to agents of peace in their societies.

UNICEF established  C4D platforms which facilitate opportunities that amplify the perspectives and voices of children and women, and which contribute to adolescent and youth engagement in peace building.

Peace building efforts should also involve a social change that can be brought about by formal, non-formal, and informal education; school-to-work transition; peace-building and conflict resolution; youth engagement, participation, and empowerment; workforce development and livelihoods. Enhancing structures that promote the participation of youths in peace building processes will actively contribute to young people’s engagement with decisions and activities that affect their well-being.

Policies and institutions that enable investment in children and youth to succeed at the micro and macro levels should be encouraged. These could take the form of full multi-sector programs that target youth in specific areas of activity, such as employment creation and/or peace building projects.

In some countries; Violence is presently getting worse in conflict-affected areas left by the guerrilla, where other armed groups are taking over, and the life of people affected by conflict has not changed since the peace agreement, because there is lacking political will from the current government. Some  governments are trying to ignore what was agreed in the peace accord, has not allocated any specific budget for its implementation and is pushing a narrative centered in war and winning the conflict against the other guerrillas militarily and not through dialogue. 

In the world today, there are about 600 million young people living in fragile and conflict affected context where they are the most affected by the multiple and frequently interlinked forms of violence-from political violence, organized crimes, terrorist attacks that plague their countries and communities bearing enormous and long-lasting human, social and economic costs.

It is very essential that the specific needs and priorities of diverse groups of young people, including the differentiated needs of young women and men, during and after conflict are identified and addressed through targeted initiatives. These should be developed with and by young people themselves, building on research which identifies existing local capacities for peace and young people’s sources of resilience, as opposed to externally driven solutions.

we are cognizant of the elusive nature of peace owing to the numerous, changing, dynamic and emerging threats to security and stability within the region and the continent Consequently, the children of yesterday transition into the youth of today, in environments that are crippled with challenges relating to,  poverty, lack of education, unemployment, political tension, poor governance, insecurity, cross-border and armed- conflict, organized crime and terrorism, climate change, marginalization, exclusion,  displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the list goes on and on. 

We strongly believe that children are powerful agents of change, they have a right to be heard, a right to actively participate in issues that impact their lives and a right to make decisions about them.


Considering that 65% of the population on the African continent consists of young people, it is becoming progressively more significant that, rather than seeing young people as agents of conflict and destruction, they are seen as agents of peace, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and advocates for social cohesion in their communities.

The exclusion of women from the process of designing peace agreements and recovery frameworks means that often, insufficient attention is paid to redressing gender inequalities and addressing women’s insecurity; as a result, women’s needs go unmet and their capacities remain underutilized. We must transform this vicious circle into a virtuous circle, so that women’s engagement in peacemaking brings a gender perspective to post-conflict planning, generating improved outcomes for women and an enhanced capacity to participate in longer-term peace-building.

Ensuring women’s participation in peace-building is not only a matter of women’s and girls’ rights. Women are crucial partners in shoring up three pillars of lasting peace: economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its related restrictions and closures, has brought about additional strain on the youth, particularly those already living in areas of conflict with many losing their jobs and spiking security risks within the region.

There is an automatic tendency to problematize youth as a factor in violent conflict while overlooking their many positive contributions to a society, including their potential role in sustaining the social fabric and peace, as well as their survival in impossible environments.

– UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery

Today’s youth will either inherit an agreement’s long-term benefits if it’s implemented, or its long term consequences if it is not implemented. It is essential to consider, then, how the younger generation is socialized and engaged during a peace process, as it will shape their perception of legitimacy of the process.

It takes more than one person to bring peace-peace takes all of us. We Want – “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens” as housed under agenda 2063.

The dilemma that consequently emerges is the youth keep finding themselves inheriting war zones and fighting battles that they should have been sheltered from as children. The mandate of protecting children and youth from situations of conflict , is therefore, not solely Save the Children’s alone; BUT ALL OF US.

Advancing the peace and security agenda within the region will need us to speak not only in the same voice but also a conscious commitment to a mutual action plan for peace; both as important pre-conditions for the success of Africa’s security, stability and development over the next few years.

This is blog consist of collective voices content designed to promote peace collected from numerous articles, reports and all photos in this post are not own by Mtoto News. All due credit to all the authors and photographers.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *