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Formulating and Implementing National Youth Policy: Lessons from Bolivia and the DR

This report describes the formulation and implementation of youth policies in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic and draws lessons that advocates for youth programs can apply in other countries. Both countries have approved comprehensive national policies that incorporate strong adolescent health components, including reproductive health. Program implementation, however, has so far not kept pace with progress in the policy arena.

Bolivia approved a national youth policy in October 1998, and its president issued a decree on youth in February 1999. The health sector is taking the lead in implementing the policy, but tight budgets and changes in leadership have limited the government’s ability to mount a nationwide effort. Key elements in the success of youth policy efforts include influential support from top political leaders, a strong coalition of youth advocates from private groups, and consistent support from international agencies.

The Dominican Republic formally approved a national youth policy in January 1998 and enacted a youth law in August 2000. The government is pilot-testing an intensive implementation strategy in three municipalities with encouraging yet uneven results to date. Key factors contributing to the success of youth policy efforts in the Dominican Republic include a broad-based and consultative process that drew on the experience of nongovernmental organizations, effective leadership from the National Youth Office, and steady technical and financial support from international partners.

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