By Lincoln G. Peters
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) is expected to hold a US$13 million fundraising rally on 30 June 2022 for the “National at Risk Youth Project,” a long term project drafted by the Ministry of Youths and Sports and other development partners including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
It’s aimed at rehabilitating and reintegrating disadvantaged youth known here as “Zogoes” across the Country.
The government through its international partners over the weekend held a high-level dinner conversation and dialogue on the At-risk youth across the country at a hotel in Monrovia.
The program brought together United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Niels Scott, Laurent Delahousse, Head of the European Mission to Liberia and other foreign diplomats.
Also, in attendance from the government were Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Youths and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee, among others.
The National At-Risk Youth document was drafted in 2021 and endorsed by the cabinet in February 2022 to rehabilitate At-risk youth through technical vocational skills and social circle counseling process in order to make them self-reliant and productive citizens to promote peace in the society.
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as the lead Ministry the project, the Ministry of Health, Gender, Justice, and Finance, among others.
Making the disclosure at the high-level At-Risk Youth dinner hosted by the United Nations and other international partners, Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., said the US$13 million fundraising marks the beginning of a comprehensive holistic approach against drug abuse and the rehabilitation and reintegration of at-risk – youth.
“Today’s dinner is the beginning of the framing and partnership on the at-risk youth project. President George Weah sees this approach as [a] step toward mitigating the influx of at-risk youth across the country,” said Mr. Tweah.
“He also sees this as a most significant threat to the country and based upon that, he endorsed the national plan for a comprehensive holistic approach against the fight of drugs and the rehabilitation of our at-risk youth,” Minister Tweah explained.
According to him, there are many At-risk youths in the country today due to unemployment, peer pressure, and the prolonged civil war among other things.
Tweah noted that the government is now taking a comprehensive holistic approach to mitigate it and prevent many from joining those already affected.
“The June 30 event is [the] beginning of a massive fundraising to help mitigate the entrance into the At-risk life and provide training and life skills for those that are involved, ” he explained.
“We will be raising US$ 13 million on that day. Because this national plan is to give a collective fight and approach against this nightmare by fighting it from the root cause. If we do not fight this from the roots, we will be wasting [the] government’s resources,” Tweah concluded.
Giving an overview of the project, Youths and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson said they seat up a technical team comprising Liberia’s partners from the UN base on request from the United Nations Resident Coordinator to develop a national plan to address the concern of At-risk youth across the country.
According to him, the National At-Risk Youth Project will provide psychosocial counseling, detoxification, vocational and technical skills training, family reintegration and make them serviceable to the society to be good citizens.
Minister Wilson said the National At-Risk Youth National Plan budget costs US$13.9 million. According to him, US$ 6.5 million of that amount is for the renovation of the rehabilitation center of the Youth Agriculture Center in Bensonville, while the rest of the money will go toward the rehabilitation of the at-risk youths.
For his part, Niels Scott, United Nations Resident Coordinator, expressed excitement over the program and pledged the UN’s continued support toward transforming the youth across the country.
According to him, the United Nations and development partners have supported this government’s efforts not only to ensure peace but social justice and increased access to social services throughout the country.
Also speaking, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee extolled the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the great national plan which seeks to develop and transform the at-risk youth into productive citizens.
He declared Montserrado County as the epic center for at-risk youths, saying some studies and surveys have put them at 36,000 in Montserrado and 1,800 across the country.
“We support this process because it’s the president’s vision and we will make sure that President Weah’s vision to see a holistic approach against this drug and rehabilitation of our at-risk youth be fought through a more sustainable manner,” he concluded.