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Int. Youth Day Celebration:

70 percent of Youth are unemployed’, says UNAIDS Country Director

August 15, 2016 By Victoria Saffa

UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Michael Gboun, has said 70 percent of youth in Sierra Leone are unemployed, forming the bulk of the society.

He made this statement in Kambia last Friday during celebration of International Youth Day, themed ‘Engaging Youth in Entrepreneurship and AgricBusiness for Poverty Reduction.’

This year’s celebration was organised by the Ministry of Youth, in collaboration with partners.

He said the scale of unemployment and under-employment, especially among young people, was a serious development concern and that approximately 70 percent of young people are either unemployed or underemployed.

“The absent of adequate productive jobs in rural areas induces many young people to seek their fortune in cities, particularly in the capital Freetown. If well managed, urbanisation can connect rural economic activities to large urban markets through increasing demand for agricultural food production, employment opportunities in urban and per-urban areas,” he said.

He noted that in Sierra Leone, many youth move from rural subsistence agriculture into urban, low-scale and informal services. “For example many become street vendors with little or no durable prospect of improving their livelihoods. Furthermore, since investments in urban services have not kept pace with the magnitude of movement from rural areas to cities, urbanisation exposes these poor young women and men to a number of risks,” he said.

Dr. Gboun said poor health result to substandard living conditions, overcrowding and low incomes from employment, while lack of job security and hazardous occupation were just some of the risk youth face, adding that young women are particularly at increase risk of being trafficked and gender-based violence.

He said the efficient use of land could generate sustainable livelihoods and also addresses the problem of food security, adding that if further investment was made in adding value to agricultural products through better processing, packaging and marketing, it would also create jobs in peri-urban areas. Investing in agricbusiness can help to generate income for young people quickly, he said.

Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh said the government had done so much for youth in the country. He said the President Ernest Bai Koroma said during the 2012 presidential campaign that he would lay his life for the youth, adding that that is the reason he had appointed a number of young people to certain positions.

“We will continue to empower young people so that they can be productive and help in the development of the country. The revised youth policy is now in place, a very good document that explained the roles and obligation of youth and how they could contribute in the development of the country,” he said.

He called on young people to put up good behaviour, noting that youth should be law abiding and useful in society. “You are responsible to change society because you have the strength, might and power at your disposal,’ he said.

He urged youth in Kambia, which shares border with Guinea, to keep the peace with their Guinean counterparts in the border areas.

The Vice President said government had established many youth development agencies and implemented projects for the development of young people.

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