On 29 December 2021, leaders and members of DSW’s youth clubs and youth empowerment centers (YEC) gathered for an annual review meeting, at the youth development training center in Bishoftu. The event marked the conclusion of activities for 2021.

“During the partial lockdown that came into force in Ethiopia in 2020 due to new strict COVID-19 protocols, social gatherings were restricted, resulting in our annual review meeting being rescheduled to the following year,” recounts Feyera Assefa, Country Director of DSW Ethiopia.

The day-long conference was accompanied by a host of other outdoor engagements, including exhibitions that created platforms for the youth who were able to display their best-performed activities in a variety of ways. One exhibition displayed photographs of selected activities on posters and audio-video materials were played for visitors. Talented members of the youth clubs and YECs also performed a circus show. The review meeting itself also took place outside the first time to comply with COVID-19 protective protocols.

In his keynote speech, Teku Senbeta, Head of the Mayor’s Office at the Municipality in Bishoftu (Debrezeit), acknowledged how DSW’s presence in his town brought on changes among youth residents who, in his words “become enlightened of their sexual & reproductive health (SRH) needs and act with proper life skills.”

“Our partnership with DSW has been ongoing for the two decades throughout the organisation’s existence in Ethiopia,” says Endale Tilahun, representative of the Federal Women, Children & Social Affairs Ministry (FWCSAM). In a keynote address, Endale further emphasised that “we have been honoured to be present on many occasions, such as this, in the past and were able to observe the practicality and impact of DSW’s steady focus on youth empowerment.” Endale also enthused in his address that “our ministry would like to congratulate and recognize the continuous support of DSW availed on behalf of the ministry (FWCSAM)”.

Ninety key stakeholders representing the federal ministries, regional health bureaus, other partner organisations, media outlets, youth clubs and youth empowerment centers attended the review meeting. Leaders and members of the youth clubs and YECs presented and discussed issues related to the annual programmatic performances, challenges and ways forward.

“The primary aim of the annual event was to review the performances of the youth clubs and YECs, which DSW supports through different projects. The supports often come by way of enhancing their livelihood prospects and life skills development in order to address their SRH needs. Needs-based capacity development is also conducted by DSW to undertake implementation of our projects at the grassroots community.” says Feyera.

During the annual review meeting, the core topics posited for discussion included the revised Adolescent and Youth Health Strategy (AYHS) (2021 – 2025), which was presented and disseminated by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH). In his brief power-point presentation of this strategic document, Eyob Getachew, Head of the Adolescent & Youth Case Team at FMoH, credited DSW’s steadfast contributions in the revision of the AYHS.

Following a series of presentations by key stakeholders and discussions among participants, a mobile application recently developed by one member of the YEC for enhanced and faster dissemination of the sexual & reproductive health information among youth was launched.

“Being mentored by DSW since his early teens at a DSW supported YEC, 18-year-old Tekalegn Genenew, is already a high-tech young talent, whose innovative efforts have paid off in many ways of benefiting youth with SRH information and access to the service provision,” Feyera appreciated the contribution made by this talented young leader of the YEC who developed the mobile application in close cooperation with DSW.

Apart from reviewing the achievements of projects, the annual meeting also introduced a new initiative taken by DSW to expand and replicate the youth-friendly clinic in 2022 that was piloted in 2021 by integrating with the youth empowerment center, and by the linking of the SRH information using the mobile application developed and now readily accessible.

The Annual Review Meeting is one of DSW Ethiopia’s biggest conferences bringing together hundreds of youth and government stakeholders, including partner and donor organisations. The event gives youth many opportunities to engage in experience sharing and learning activities so that they will be able learn from each other’s best practice examples.  The meeting also commemorated DSW’s global 30th anniversary with a series of events organised throughout the conference.

Photos: private

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