Turning Away from MS-13 and al-Shabaab: Analyzing Youth Resilience in Honduras and North East Kenya

Comparative Study - Youth Resilience
IDD | EDC | Publication

This study compares multiple resiliency factors (individual, caregiver, context) displayed by youth who are participating in international-donor-funded youth development programs implemented by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), in Central America (Honduras) and the Horn of Africa (North East Kenya), two regions that suffer from high levels of violence in communities. In Honduras, gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) plague vulnerable neighborhoods, while along the border of Kenya and Somalia, extremist groups such as al-Shabaab both terrorize and stigmatize the predominantly ethnic Somali local population. Although significant research and programming focused on resiliency has been undertaken in North America, much less data are available in other regions. Furthermore, little attempt has been made to compare and contrast regions in a manner that could facilitate the sharing of experiences and lessons learned. This study used a combination of interviews and focus groups and the application of the Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-28, developed by the Resilience Research Centre) with a small sample in both regions.

Findings in both regions showed a surprisingly high level of resilience among youth who are enrolled in programs implemented by EDC and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Respondents in North East Kenya scored slightly higher than respondents in Honduras on the CYRM-28 survey, including in all three survey scales (individual, caregiver, and context). Participants in North East Kenya had statistically significantly higher scores on the peer support subscale (individual scale) and spiritual subscale (context scale). Overall, females scored higher than males in Honduras and lower than males in North East Kenya. Honduran youth noted the important and positive role of the church and strong community cohesion, and females in particular were proud of their neighborhoods and keen to help other youth. Honduran respondents were gravely concerned with gangs, organized crime groups, and general insecurity in their communities. North East Kenyan youth noted significant pride in the Somali cultural and religious heritage, but they also acknowledged that differences in beliefs and attitudes have led to clashes.


Lainie Reisman, Gustavo Payan

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Contact Gustavo Payan at gpayan@edc.org.