Liberian youths have been urged to take advantage of the World Bank supported Youth Opportunities Project (YOP) that is aimed at providing them a means to fulfill their aspirations in business, education and employment.
Officially launching the US$10m 5-year YOP yesterday at the Paynesville Town Hall outside Monrovia, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai reiterated the government’s commitment to encourage youth in urban communities to see the importance of the agricultural sector as a means to improve their living conditions.
He noted the challenges facing thousands of youth with little or no skills for the labor market and expressed appreciation to the World Bank for its support to provide opportunities for Liberian youth.
The project is financed through a US$10m International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve their access to income generation opportunities for 15,000 youth in all 15 counties.
In his keynote address, Mr. Thomas Gibokie, Deputy Minister for Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, who deputized for Minister Moses Zinnah, said the government places a premium on agriculture as the engine for economic growth. He spoke on the topic “Developing Youth Entrepreneurs through
Agriculture” and called on the youth to make use of the opportunity.
In an overview of the project, Youth & Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow explained the four key components of the project to include pre-employment social support and household enterprises for urban youth that include social support aimed at increasing the employment readiness of youth by supporting the development of non-cognitive skills such as self-control and positive attitudes towards work.
Others include productive public works and life skills support to vulnerable youth in rural areas to undertake communal farming activities and life skills training.
Component three involves capacity building for a Cash Transfer Program that aims to improve efficiency in the delivery of cash transfers to targeted households, which will affect extremely poor households as well as strengthen accountability and grievance redress systems.
The fourth component is the project implementation and coordination by the three implementing agencies of the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) and the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection.
World Bank Liberia Country Manager Larisa Leshchenko said the project is due to the compelling need to empower Liberian youth and the World Bank is happy the Liberian government developed and funded the YOP.
She said the launch of the project signifies a huge step in moving towards addressing the economic constraints Liberian youth are faced with in a more transformative and sustainable way.
“The project will use a demand-driven approach to provide apprenticeships to vulnerable youth in urban areas in agricultural transformation and value chain addition through productive public works,” she said.
She noted that 50 percent of the targeted youth under this project will be females while an entire subcomponent will be dedicated to youth between the ages of 15 and17.
Ms. Leshchenko emphasized that the investment in developing systems for improving government’s capacity to deliver social protection programs under the project is a major step towards government’s goal of using a systemic approach towards service delivery to the youth and other vulnerable populations in Liberia.
The Chargé d’affaires at the United States Embassy near Monrovia, Sam Watson, recounted the successes of the Mandela Washington Fellowship that has benefitted more than 50 Liberian youth that are contributing to Liberia’s economic recovery.
“When I think about empowering youth in Liberia, I think of the Let Girls Learn initiative, which was highlighted by First Lady Michelle Obama during her visit here last year. The initiative focuses on improving girls’ access to education,” he recalled.
He reassured the audience of the US Government’s support to the implementation of the YOP and to help build a secure future for the young people of Liberia.