Background Several studies investigated risk and protective factors for unsafe youth migration. However, evidence on what interventions help to reduce unsafe youth migration is lacking. This study aimed primarily to identify interventions that may help to reduce unsafe youth migration from the perspectives of key stakeholders.
Methods A mixed methods study was conducted in eight migration hotspot areas in Ethiopia. For the qualitative study, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) were used to collect data. FGDs were conducted with students, teachers and parents separately. A school principal, heads of relevant offices of the local government, a community representative and a religious leader were interviewed. Thematic analysis was used to identify the prominent issues. Quantitative data were collected from students (n=800), teachers (n= 240) and parents (n=160) who were selected using multistage sampling. We developed a structured questionnaire to collect data. Descriptive statistics, t-test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to analyze the data.
Results We identified potential interventions to reduce unsafe youth migration and grouped them into five domains: awareness and attitudinal/behavioral changes, job opportunities and training, governmental and parental roles, improving the education system, and law enforcement and migration management. The need for cooperation among stakeholders was cross-cutting. More than 80% of the survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed in that the interventions would potentially be relevant and effective. We found significant mean difference in the degree of endorsement due to age and level of education in two of the domains of interventions (i.e. enhancing access to resources and jobs and law enforcement and managing migration). Older and more educated respondents were highly likely to endorse intervention strategies more than younger and less educated respondents. Significant mean difference was observed in one of the domains (i.e. law enforcement and managing migration) due to respondent type. Teachers and parents were more likely than students to endorse the intervention.
Conclusion We identified contextually relevant intervention strategies that would potentially be effective to reduce unsafe youth migration in Ethiopia. We suggest that there is to prioritize and empirically test the effectiveness of these intervention strategies.