MONROVIA – UNDP Liberia Deputy Resident Representative for programme has emphasized the need to create opportunities and services tailored at youth development.
Louis Kuukpen said majority of the young people in Liberia have fewer skills, work experience and financial resources with most of them finding themselves in poverty-affected families, owing to the effects of the civil crisis and limited access to basic services and opportunities.
Kuukpen noted that that despite the odds, youth dominate the informal or vulnerable employment sector and play a critical role in the business and agriculture sectors.
He made these remarks recently at the reactivated National Cadet Program (NCP) pre- deployment training supported by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports for seventy-five young Liberians forty-one of whom are women, to gain job experience and exposure for three months at both public and private institutions.
“The ability of youth to be productive and economically viable is conditioned on opportunities available to them. This means that the aspirations of youths can only be fulfilled in a region that is at peace and where there are concrete efforts to support gender-responsive youth economic empowerment”, said the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.
Kuukpen wants stakeholders, including development partners and the Government of Liberia to capitalize on the gains achieved over the years though collaboration and support for youth participation in political decision making, peacebuilding and accountability.
He reaffirmed UNDP’s support to youth empowerment in Liberia and committed to encouraging solutions-driven partnerships for achieving the national and global agenda on sustainable development.
At the same time, the Minister of Youth and Sports D. Zeogar Wilson recognized the contributions of UNDP and call for more support to the program. He encouraged the trainees to make practical the training and make a difference in their communities.
The National Cadet Program (NCP) is a long-standing intervention implemented by the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with partners including UNDP and Mercy Corps that have provided job exposure and experiences, hundreds of permanent employments, and sustainable livelihood opportunities to many young Liberians over the years.
Over the past two years (2020-2022), the program has been inactive due to lack of funding. Given an enormous impact and vital role the NCP plays in building capacity and providing sustainable economic empowerment to the youth of Liberia, this activity was included in the Livelihood & Employment Creation project funded by UNDP with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Ministry of Youth and Sports as Implementing Partners.
Liberia has a population of approximately 4.6 million people, with a youthful population of about 63 percent below 25 years and 79 percent below 36 years (LISGIS, 2011). Despite this proportion of the population, levels of poverty among the youths are high.
Majority of the youth have limited skills, work experience, financial resources, physical assets, and most often find themselves in poverty.
The Liberia National Youth Policy recognizes the broader challenges and needs of the youth population with emphasis on access to basic needs, creating the conditions for youth political and civic engagement, building the capacity of youth and enabling their development and self-esteem etc.