The Youth Opportunities Project (YOP) with support from the World Bank is expected to recruit over 3,500 vulnerable youth to benefit basic life skills training and labor subsidies for farming. The exercise will begin in early November 2018 and targets rural youth between 18-35.
This will be phase two of the enrollment of the beneficiaries into the Productive Public Works (PPW) component of the YOP which earlier admitted 3,612 beneficiaries.
Ahead of the PPW Phase two recruitment exercise, the YOP, on October 20, dispatched four technical teams of 3-4 members to the 15 counties for two weeks to work with local residents and identify prospective communities and farmland for the project’s implementation. The teams are also introducing the YOP’s concept to newly appointed county officials, and orientating the public about the project.
“We want to support the young people to cultivate their own potentials, contribute more meaningfully to the nation’s rebuilding process, and change the negative stereotypes about their characters. If the target of 10,000 youth under the PPW component makes the best use of this agricultural support, Liberia could grow more food and become food sufficient,” Jesse Bengu, YOP National Coordinator, said.
As part of the mobilization exercises, the field teams will monitor the level of progress of Phase One’s farming activities; document the challenges, progress, opportunities, and lessons learned and make recommendations that will lay the groundwork for the proper execution of the PPW Phase Two exercises in November.
YOP said beneficiaries will then be organized into farmers’ cooperatives of 28 members per community, and will be required to brush, plant, and maintain 35 acres of farmland up to harvest level within an estimated period of 18 months.
Farming tools, planting materials, processing machines, and labor subsidies will be made available. The local communities are required to voluntarily provide the land space on which the cultivation shall take place, YOP said.
Additionally, each beneficiary will be trained in small business management, teamwork, network building, self-esteem and confidence building, and effective communications skills.
During the recent observance of “End Poverty Day” in Monrovia, a 34-year-old female YOP beneficiary told a video conference with African youth that for the first time in 6 years, she was able to cater for the tuition fees of her four children – just in the 2018/2019 academic year – as a result of the project.
A father of two also admitted that he felt less of a father or husband prior to joining the project because he was ill-treated on many occasions while soliciting support from relatives and friends to provide for his family.
“Now, I own my own commercial motorcycle that feeds my table every day. My venture is also helping to ease the poor transportation condition on my community in Bong County due to the bad road,” he said. Other beneficiaries said they have built their self-confidence and can now express themselves freely.
Meanwhile, the YOP has a subcomponent – the Pre-Employment Social Support—targeting 5,000 youth between 15-17 years to prepare their career path and strengthen their moral values.
YOP was launched in January 2017 to operate for 5 years and benefit 15,000 youth, nationwide. It is supported by the World Bank through a US$10 million loan to the Government of Liberia. The Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment-LACE are joint managers.