Conflict and Youth Migration

This category contains 8 posts

Final Free Style Diary Entry

Hello fellow bloggers/readers,

This is our final journal entry before the big Demo Day next week! We’re excited that we have a concrete idea for our project now and are getting ready to put it into a presentation-worthy format.

In creating our project, we used the formula provided by Rolf Olsen in his seminar during the last workshop. We thought it was really important to keep the following in mind while we developed our project:

Fav (Star)     Mission

Fav (Star)     Vision

Fav (Star)     Values

With that in mind, we have developed a draft structure based on what we believe is important to our project:

Vision, Mission and Values for Public Private Partnerships in Violence Prevention


We will build a relationship within communities between companies and youth in order to foster positive economic opportunities that will serve as an alternative to involvement with gangs and other negative influences. Our vision is to develop a comprehensive network of self-sustainable integrated development projects which will improve the lives of at-risk youth, families and communities throughout the Northern triangle.


Our mission is a two step process:

  1. to find (civil society) partners to firstly develop a platform for public private partnerships in violence prevention in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of existing projects; and
  2. to fill the existing “gaps” in the system by developing fitting projects in cooperation with the private sector.


Optimism: Always maintain a positive attitude and strength to overcome challenges.

Collaboration: Work diligently to collaborate with different partners and with youth. Provide a platform which can serve as a tool for both youth and adults, sharing knowledge and programs in order to build agency, awareness, and relationships.

Coordination and Networking: Foster coordination through building solid networks and positive working relationships with all relevant actors.

Empowerment: Empower youth with opportunities to be successful and find alternatives to impoverished and dangerous situations. In turn, empower other actors in communities to participate and engage in youth development.

Cultural Sensitivity and Respect: Understand local community needs and wants. Ensure community consent and a non-intrusive developmental approach. Incorporate the needs of local communities into sustainable projects.

Solidarity: Establish solidarity through common goals amongst all actors involved.

Keeping these important elements in mind, we will move forward to develop and present our project on Demo Day next week!

Thanks for reading,

The World Vision Innovate Team Over and Out 🙂


Progress Update #4 for the World Vision Conflict and Youth Migration Challenge


Since our last blog entry there have been very encouraging developments. The “set back” by our challenge setter confronted us more than ever with the question “What it is we actually want to make out of this project?” Our conclusion was that even if we are well aware that all project propositions will suffer from our distance to the locality of the problem itself, we still believe it to be meaningful to develop a concrete project idea. Any project will undergo important transformations during the process of implementation, just as our idea (which will commence as an initial prototype) will need to be adapted to real-life circumstances. After several intense meetings with our team members and all our mentors we finally decided upon one project idea that we want to pursue.

As mentioned in our previous blog posts (gang) violence seems to be amongst the core reasons for mass youth migration from Central America, as documented by several existing studies on this phenomenon. The American Department of Homeland Security, for instance, finds that the major cities where the children are coming from are amongst the poorest and most violent in the region.

At the same time this violence is hurting the economy severely: law enforcement, security and health care costs amount to almost 8% of Central America’s GDP – or around US$20 billion, while security-related costs for Central America’s businesses can add up to 3.7% of all firms’ sales.

The Central American private sector has already identified the problem of gang violence as relevant not only to society but also to their own specific interests. Promising projects dealing with this issue have already been developed, as shown by Rio Grande Foods’ and Microsoft’s efforts to engage with youth employment. The following links provide more information:

Since there exists no body, however, which monitors, evaluates and coordinates the different “Private Public Partnership (PPP)” initiatives in the field, they remain limited in both number and efficiency. Moreover, many of the existing approaches do not have long-term monitoring and evaluating systems in place. While today in one city several PPP projects might give training to former gang members, they may have nothing in place to try to prevent minors becoming part of a gang by taking them off the streets at a young age or the young trainees might not profit from their training if there is no program to place them in the labor market following their training.

First Pfourth PSecond P

Our project proposal calls for the development of a permanent institution to do all of the following:

  • collect data on private sector agents involved and projects established in violence prevention;
  • identify project gaps (topics or areas not covered);
  • develop explicit project proposals; and
  • pitch them to potential private sector agents.

This approach would allow for the transfer of lessons learned from one project to another and permit the scaling up of effective projects (or allow us to build on our initial prototype or “pilot project”). In doing so, this PPP “platform” would promote better knowledge management not only amongst private companies, but also between local communities, NGOs, and the national public sector, allowing them to focus on the problem from a micro-level perspective. Overall the approach could encourage the currently ineffectively used power for change of the private sector to find long-term solutions to one of the most pressing problems leading to the phenomenon of youth migration from Central America: gang violence.

In order to further develop this proposal, we will in the next week analyse it through the strategic framework Rolf Olsen explained to us during the seminar on the 15th November. These are the steps he proposed:

Rolf Olsen steps for project development

The later questions concern the way we will communicate our project to our stakeholders, which will mainly be NGOs, companies and possibly government institutions. If you are keen about learning about the approach we will take to convince our stakeholders in detail you will hopefully enjoy our presentation on demo day

Thanks for reading our blog!

The World Vision Innovation Team 🙂

Progress Update #3 for the World Vision Conflict and Youth Migration Challenge

Skype - our new best friend! With mentors and team members in different locations, this has been essential to our communication

Skype – our new best friend! With mentors and team members in different locations, this has been essential to our communication

In our effort to develop a deeper understanding of our given challenge, we have been faced with several questions and confronted with some alarming facts. As we discovered early on, poverty, organised crime and family reunification are significant influences pushing youth to leave their countries of origin throughout Central America in order to make the perilous journey north. In particular, the interrelated issues of crime, gang death threats and generalised violence appear to be the strongest influences on the decision to migrate to the United States. At this stage, we have come up with several potential ideas for solutions to this growing problem.

Our project proposals can be divided into two different ways of addressing this problem:

  • removing youth from the violent situations they live in; or
  • empowering youth within their own communities to counter the violence

We recently presented our concerns and proposals during a Skype session with our challenge setter, World Vision International. To our surprise, they found our suggested proposals to be unrealistic, given that we are not conducting any actual field investigations in this region and are therefore unable to determine the root causes of the migration. Their view was that there is no clear information or empirical data on the motivation and needs of the migrating youth.  For the first time since the commencement of our challenge, they have indicated their expectations for us in the delivery of this project. Their belief is that our team will analyse and review the existing data and surveys that they have compiled in this area and to try and do the following:

  • find any missing elements or correlation between violence and migration;
  • establish the economic impact of youth migration; and
  • investigate the relationship between violence and political/institutional issues

They consider that one of our proposed projects, designing workshops to run in communities to promote youth empowerment is not a realistic project and does not create the impact that the organisation seeks. Their view is that the situation is extremely complex and there are many factors indicating that our proposed workshops would not work in practice. Further, they believe that running such workshops would fail to address the issue of violence or the economic loss to countries as a result of youth migration.

World Vision, our challenge setter

World Vision, our challenge setter

World Vision International is actually already working in El Salvador (part of the “Northern Triangle”) to determine the root causes of youth migration. Specifically they are trying to establish what the multi-dimensional drivers of the migration are, and whether and how these factors are inter-related. The two main questions that they want us to address are:

  • whether it is possible to measure the impact of violence and migration on a country’s economic growth and development; and
  • if so, whether such economic loss be described/ quantified

World Vision has indicated that there are two aspects that we should concentrate on in the continuation of our project:

  1. use the data analysis from the existing World Vision El Salvador case study, and cross-reference this data with other studies to get an idea of the “bigger picture”. In doing so, we should recognise our constraints and focus on a task that does not require field work (given our location in Geneva); and
  1. identify a profile for migrant youth looking at why children migrate and who the children who migrate are. We should then compare this with the profile that World Vision has already developed through the programs it is currently implementing in the region. From this, we can see whether or not we can find any positive impact of development programs, particularly looking at qualitative and/or statistical analysis

For us, World Vision’s response to our proposals has been a set back to our progress. We are now trying to focus on the feedback they have provided and how this compares with our team proposals. This will be a tough process, given the discrepancy between each of our understandings of this problem and the requirements for a solution. As it stands, we will now have to devise a solution that balances the following ideas:

  • World Vision’s idea that our group should produce a written research paper (look at the work that has already been undertaken in El Salvador); and
  • our idea that we produce a practical program or a project that can be established in one of the affected countries and will have a direct and important impact on youth and potentially contribute to the prevention of migration
El Salvador map, where World Vision is already doing some great work to combat the issue of child migration. The capital San Salvador is one of the worst places in Central America for gang-related violence

El Salvador map, where World Vision is already doing some great work to combat the issue of child migration. The capital San Salvador is one of the worst places in Central America for gang-related violence

Right now, given this set back, it is difficult for us to directly answer whether our project is sustainable and scalable, because we don’t have a firm project in mind. However, moving forward our team knows that we want to find a solution which will assist somehow in removing Central American youth from violent situations, suggesting alternatives to dangerous migration to the United States and will hopefully provide better opportunities in life.

Things are going to be interesting from here – stay tuned! The World Vision Innovate Team 🙂

Developing Ideas for project proposals. Mapping out our ideas and considering feasible solutions. A work in progress!

Here is a visual of where we’re currently at with our thought processes and project planning:


The World Vision Innovate Team 🙂

Progress Update #2 for the World Vision Conflict and Youth Migration Challenge

Our research and exploration on the topic of youth migration from Central America into the U.S. has allowed for some in-depth and meaningful brainstorming and collaborative work towards our project. As mentioned before, this is a BIG issue!

In order to narrow our prospects for the project a bit, we decided to each individually take on the task of creating a project idea. We found the last C4SI workshop to be helpful in providing tools and ideas that have assisted in our narrowing of topic. What is it that the youth need? How can we prove these needs and that they aren’t already being met?

The Grupos Beta, a Mexican government service which operates along the train lines which youth are using to migrate to the US border.  Their primary role is to protect the human rights of migrants regardless of their immigration status - they provide water, first aid and much-needed advice to the migrants, such as counselling against them engaging dangerous people smugglers to help them enter the US.

The Grupos Beta, a Mexican government service which operates along the train lines which youth are using to migrate to the US border.
Their primary role is to protect the human rights of migrants regardless of their immigration status – they provide water, first aid and much-needed advice to the migrants, such as counselling against them engaging dangerous people smugglers to help them enter the US.

After doing a great deal of research and spending a lot of time trying to put ourselves in the shoes of children from Central America, we each devised a proposal! The four different proposals have served as a platform from which we are currently piecing parts of the different proposals together, analysing ideas and critiquing others, and figuring out the practicalities.

Our main platform seems to be evolving into this general idea: providing opportunities for social innovation FOR YOUTH in Central America. Social innovation will not only be a tool used by us to address the issue of youth migration (considering the issues of violence, education, and poverty), but also a method applied to empowering youth (our target audience) – through sports, service work, leadership workshops, community projects, etc.

Members of the Maras gangs, which many youth are being recruited into from a young age.

Members of the Maras gangs, which many youth are being recruited into from a young age.

Our innovative ideas focus on supporting youth as a preventative technique in terms of violence, gang participation, and lack of social/economic opportunities. Our goals are to reach youth at a point where they can foster a more involved education (one which will allow them opportunities to grow from team building, education, their own innovations, and skills-based workshops).

Another part of our evolving idea addresses the issue of a lack of organisation and cooperation between initiatives and information. Our innovation aims to create networks that will connect and provide links to the opportunities and programs offered. It aims to serve youth through the process of organisation and a centrality of information. These ideas would bring together private sectors, government policies, and youth needs under one “database” or arena. Developing a space for networking could ultimately impact youth providing a platform for which organisations, governments, and corporations could effectively utilise.

All in all, our ideas are focused not around preventing migration – but influencing the root causes of it in a way that would hopefully establish a better life for youth. It would create platforms for organised opportunities and success, and ultimately sustainable development. We recognise that this broad issue is not something that a single solution or even a variety and number of solutions can “fix.” There are only ways in which we can contribute to improving the conditions and organisation of community development which might lead youth to recognising their potential, their ability to take on leadership roles, or further opportunities – hopefully resulting in a decrease in violence and insecurity and ultimately a decreased desire to migrate.

Stay posted for our next update!

The World Vision Innovation Team 🙂

World Vision Challenge – Diary Entry

As part of our initial brainstorming process, our team came up with a mind map.

It’s a visual representation of our thought processes, as well as looking at what our team members and mentors can bring to the project.

World Vision Mind Map

More to come!

World Vision Innovation Team 🙂

Conflict and Youth Migration Challenge First Blog Post

The "Northern Triangle" (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) is where most unaccompanied Central American children are migrating from

The “Northern Triangle” (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) is where most unaccompanied Central American children are migrating from


The Challenge:

Well, it’s nearly two weeks since our team was first given our challenge by World Vision. Our task is to look at the concerning humanitarian issue of the mass migration of unaccompanied children from Central America to the United States.


This is an alarming problem, with President Obama declaring the issue a “humanitarian crisis” earlier this year, as numbers are dramatically increasing. See the link below for further background:




We have already identified that whilst there are myriad reasons for migration, probably the most significant factor behind unaccompanied child migration is the prolific gang violence and organised crime in the “Northern Triangle” countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Honduras, which is the homicide capital of the world (outside of armed conflict zones), is particularly crippled by violence and the country’s authorities are affected by widespread corruption and abuse, with children being recruited into gangs from a young age. For an idea of what’s happening in Honduras at the moment, access the link below:



From our original brainstorming session, we determined that the challenge embraces three phenomena or sub-topics (which are interrelated in a circular manner):

  1. Prevention – what processes can be put in place to prevent the initial migration or discourage repeated attempts to migrate;
  2. Migration – the problems associated with the journey itself from Central America to the United States; and
  3. Return and resettlement – what can be done to reintegrate the children once they have been deported or returned to their home countries


Next Steps:

What we will need to decide is where our project will intervene, and whether we need to look at more than one element of this problem.

Since our original brainstorming session, each member of our team has gone went away to conduct extensive research to try and narrow down the specific focus of our project for this challenge. There are numerous reasons why these children are making the perilous journey from Central America to the United States, but we will be focusing on just element of their migration.

Some of the ideas that we initially discussed, and which we are going to look into further are:

  • Developing a pilot project to start with, which could then be scaled up to other regions depending on its initial success;
  • Getting private sector and governments involved (exemplary idea: get private sector to finance education / training of future employees – taking kids away from the streets thus reducing economic losses caused by violence); and
  • Thinking about actors / institutions we might need to consider as part of our project and whether they can contribute (such as schools) or whether they will hamper (such as gangs) any project we attempt to implement.


Potential Obstacles:

Some of the potential problems we may face, and will need to overcome during the development and implementation of our project is:

  • A potential lack of political will and/or lack of co-operation from local authorities/government;
  • A lack of access to the information we require (depending on how study into this issue has been recorded);
  • A lack of clarity about what exactly the United States’ obligations to these children are – many are being held indefinitely in detention in US detention centres while their claims are being considered and a further problem is that the United States is one of only three countries in the world which has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


An example of one of the many "death trains" that Central American migrants ride through Mexico to reach the US border.

An example of one of the many “death trains” that Central American migrants ride through Mexico to reach the US border.


As we have all gone away to research the numerous different aspects of this problem, we anticipate that we will have a very constructive brainstorming session during our next meeting on 18 October.


Stay tuned!


The World Vision Innovation Team 🙂


Conflict and Youth Migration

This is the space for the team under Track 4: Innovation in Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid and Conflict, Challenge 3: Conflict and Youth Migration provided by World Vision.

Team members, please make sure you tag your post under the right category when publishing!

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