MONROVIA – Klubosumo Johnson Borh, Chief Executive Officer of the Network for Empowerment & Progressive Initiatives (NEPI), has made a compelling call on the Government of Liberia to embrace the Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia (STYL) program, an initiative crafted by his institution.
NEPI, a nonprofit organization registered in New York and Liberia, has been actively implementing its flagship STYL program targeting 314 male at-risk youths, with 304 individuals receiving financial support specifically from Montserrado County.
During NEPI’s annual project review meeting, Mr. Borh emphasized the program’s effectiveness, highlighting its successful implementation not only in Liberia but also in Chicago, United States, aimed at reducing gun violence.
“This program is poised for scalability, and we hope the government considers tapping into it, given its evidence-based success,” stated Mr. Borh. “We have conducted comprehensive research and have experts ready to further validate our approach. The individuals we are assisting face exposure to violence and drug-related issues, which our community testimonials confirm as alarming.”
NEPI’s STYL project has garnered commendation for its unique methodology. The organization boasts staff with deep insights into targeted neighborhoods, connections with local leaders, mentors with firsthand experiences serving as role models, and a solid reputation among community leaders and high-risk youth.
Borh, a 2021 Rainer Arnhold Fellow of the Mulago Foundation and a 2023 Youth Empowerment Fellow of the Agency Fund, serves as the founding member and CEO of NEPI, playing a pivotal role in refining STYL over the past decade.
NEPI has outlined its long-term vision to establish an extensive program engaging thousands of participants annually in Liberia and other countries, ultimately curbing crime and violence across several major Sub-Saharan African cities. Alongside the STYL program’s implementation in Liberia, NEPI plans to explore potential partnerships and regions for further expansion.
The STYL program involves identifying the most vulnerable young men in a city and offering them an eight-week group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) program focused on mitigating reflexive violent behaviors, enhancing planning skills, fostering future-oriented thinking, and aiding their integration into non-violent society. The program combines an eight-week course of group therapy with personalized counseling and income support, enabling participants to implement and sustain positive lifestyle changes.
A randomized evaluation by IPA has demonstrated that the STYL program resulted in a 20 – 50% reduction in violent, criminal, and antisocial behavior. The most significant reductions were observed among participants initially exhibiting high levels of antisocial conduct. The program also showed improvements in mental health, self-control, and self-image among participants. NEPI’s intervention this year has successfully graduated 314 participants, each receiving an unconditional $300 cash grant. NEPI says the program is both evidence-based and cost-effective, amounting to just $530 per participant, which translates to $2.50 per prevented crime.
The surge in drug abuse and addiction, especially among Liberia’s youthful population, is a pressing concern. Global Action for Sustainable Development – GASD has highlighted the absence of sustainable drug prevention programs as a contributing factor to the escalating rate of drug abuse in Liberia. The April report by GASD forewarns that without practical interventions, including policy implementation and donor-driven programs, Liberia faces a grim scenario characterized by heightened criminal activities, unemployment, increased SGBV, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, TB, among others.
Mr. Borh echoed these concerns during an interview, emphasizing that an estimated 100,000 young people are currently directly affected by drug-related issues. He called for the urgent need for action, emphasizing the imminent threat to Liberian society’s stability and security.
NEPI is actively engaging the Liberian government through relevant ministries and institutions, including the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Justice, Gender and Social protection and Health.
During the review, several presentations by staff of NEPI were made to stakeholders, including officials from the relevant government ministries and agencies.