An eight-day Awareness Raising Campaign on the role of young men and women in peacebuilding and the importance of economic empowerment for six communities in Bong and Lofa counties has ended with a call on participants to remain vigilant.
The campaign is expected to benefit 1,200 young men and women, 600 each from both of the counties in peacebuilding and livelihood programs.
The six communities are Tumutu, Salala, and Totota, and Zorzor, Salayea and Gango Town in Bong and Lofa counties.
The campaign, which officially began on Saturday, November 2, 2019, in Salala City, Bong County, came to an end on Friday, November 8, in Gango Town, Lofa County.
Activities marking the Awareness Raising Campaign in each of the six communities included indoor programs, cultural performances, peace dramas, and songs as well as speeches by representatives of county officials, youth leaders, and security officers.
Others were the ministries of Agriculture and Youth and Sports, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and partners.
The project, entitled, “Sustaining Peace and Improving Social Cohesion through the Promotion of Rural Employment Opportunities for Youth in Conflict-prone Areas,” is being sponsored by the United Nations Peace Building Office through the Liberia Multi-Partner Trust Fund and implemented by ILO in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP).
The cost of the project’s implementation is put at US$1.5 million, and has a duration of two years beginning March 2019 to February 2021.
ILO County Manager for Liberia, Salif Massalay, said that the project is developed against the backdrop to address two interrelated and interlinked root causes of conflict in Liberia, namely: grievance over insufficient participation of young women and men in local dispute resolution, and lack of employment and livelihood opportunities for rural youth.
Massalay said that the project also is intended to raise awareness on peacebuilding activities and the role of young people in promoting peace in their respective communities.
He maintained that the insufficient participation of young women and men in local dispute resolution and lack of employment and livelihood opportunities for rural youth are some of the risk factors of conflict in the country.
He said that the project combined peacebuilding and agriculture programs to enable the youth to engage in livelihood activities, such as small farming, vegetable production, and poultry farming and other agriculture activities, noting, “When young people are involved in livelihood activities, they will denounce violence in the communities.”
Massalay then encouraged young people of the two counties to take advantage of peacebuilding structures in their various communities, as a means of doing away with taking matters or complaints to police depots or courts as doing so will further bring about bad feeling and division among community members.
“When other people wrong you, don’t carry them to the court or police station. There are people in the community that have knowledge in handling complaints; you can carry your matter to them for settlement. Except in the case they failed to resolve such a matter, and then you can go to the police or court as a last resort. Peace in Liberia must begin with you,” Massalay told the over 1,200 participants.
He noted that the project would help to support youth to become agents of positive change and promoters of social cohesion in project communities.