By Jariatu Bangura and Samuel J. Kargbo
A local consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dr. Denis M. Sandy, has told Members of Parliament that US$50m would be needed from the Government of Sierra Leone and UNDP to facilitate youth employment programs spanning five years.
The university don and erstwhile Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment made the remarks during a presentation on the National Youth Programme document for Sierra Leone, 2014-2018 (UNDP Draft National Document), to the Parliamentary Committee on Youth Affairs.
He said the document was a blueprint on the implementation of activities and programs bordering around youth affairs in the country, and how to transform the lives of youth, expected results and resources required to achieve the objectives, spanning 2014 to 2018.
He said youth are drivers of change in any country and that in Sierra Leone 34% of the estimated population are predominantly illiterate and unemployed, while 60% are underemployed.
He opined that the implementation of the document could engender change in the country by positively impacting the low self-esteem in some youth and transforming lack of trust between them and the political class.
He added that between now and 2018, the country should be able to provide one million jobs and by 2018 have two million young men and women actively engaged in opportunities that would enhance their welfare, a further three hundred thousand youth should actively be engaged in education, whether in school or tertiary institutions.
He urged lawmakers to fully participate in the implementation of the document, as they have visited the nook and cranny of the country, together with the Ministries of Works, Housing and Country Planning and Infrastructure, Mines and Mineral Resources, Labour and Employment, and Education, to assess the state and status of the youth
A representative from the UNDP, Molla Alemu, said the UN development agency has placed youth matters at the top of its agenda, and would engage youth within the UN system and without, adding that more than 80% of Sierra Leone’s youth population lives below the poverty line of US$2 per day, the country has the worst youth unemployment rate in Africa, which is about 60%.
He said the country has the potentials to top human development ranking as it is blessed with huge natural resources and brilliant minds to transform the natural resources into the dream of prosperity. He told members of the Committee that they are expected to constructively contribute to the successful implementation of the program, sharing the vision of the youth of Sierra Leone.
In his contribution, ruling party MP, Hon. Dauda J.B. Kallon commended the initiative of the UNDP, and expressed hope it would enhance the lives of youth as many non-governmental organisations had provided grants to assist young people in communities across the country, without tangible outcomes.
He alleged that many NGOs secure funds ostensibly to implement projects, especially in the provinces, but because MPs are not involved many such projects do not achieve their desired impact.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Hassan Sesay, recommended that a copy of the document be presented to the Committee for their input, where necessary, and urged that they be involved in the implementation phase as legitimate representatives of the people.