Youth and Sports Minister Dester Zeogar Wilson is confident that the Youth Opportunities Project (YOP) being implemented by three government entities, is a sure pathway for long-term livelihood sustainability.
Launched in January 2017, the US$10 million initiative, a financing agreement between the Government of Liberia and the World Bank, seeks to address critical areas of youth development, including improving their access to income generation and strengthening the government’s capacity to implement its social cash transfer program across the country.
Based on his inclination that the project has the potential to positively impact lives, Minister Wilson has urged beneficiaries to remain committed to it.
YOP has a productive public works component that supports vulnerable rural youth aged 18-35 years with simple farm tools and planting materials to engage in communal farming, which is implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE).
Minister Wilson, who spoke recently to a number of beneficiaries of this component in the Civil Compound Community, Margibi County, lauded the farmers for embracing YOP and highlighted the donor community for its continued assistance to Liberia.
“I want to say thanks to you for the job you are doing; because this is something that will benefit you,” he told the group of 34 he met working on their 35-acre corn and cassava farm.
“My presence here today is to identify with you all and say that we (government) will support this program to succeed. I appreciate the level of work that has been done. Continue to work because your farm will feed you and at the same time earn you income.
“Thankfully what the Liberian government can’t do, our international partners are helping us to do,” he stated.
The MYS boss, whose entity serves both as implementer and supervisor of the entire scheme, was speaking on the first leg of his planned assessment visits, and scheduled to take him to all YOP sites in Liberia’s 15 counties.
A beneficiary, Felicia Gbakay, voiced her appreciation during the minister’s visit: “It was good my friends and I came together to make this farm. It will help us send our children to school and take care of other expenses.
“We are happy to do what we are doing. We know the value of farming. After harvest, we will sell some of the produce, use some of the money from the sale and keep some to continue the project.”
For Samuel Denga, another beneficiary, he and his co-workers expect more yields from the farm, based on “the togetherness” within the group.
“With the togetherness we enjoy, we look forward to continuing the hard work. This way, we will reap more crops. I expect more from group farming than individual farming.”