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Lawmakers want US$10m youth project properly coordinated

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The Chairpersons for the Committee on Youth and Sports at the 54th Legislature have called on the Ministry of Youth and Sports to do more coordination and effective information dissemination for the practical impact of the new US$10 million Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberian Informal Sector Employment (REALISE) Project.

The REALISE Project succeeds the Youth Opportunity Project (YOP), which has finally come to an end.

Speaking briefly at a retreat climaxing the end of the YOP and subsequent introduction of the REALISE, Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County and Montserrado County Electoral District #7 Representative, Solomon C. George, lauded the Ministry for the successful implementation of the YOP project but urged it to better coordinate activities with other line ministries and agencies that are part of the implementation of the new project.

They urged the technical team managers to provide all YOP’s documentation to them to ensure they move forward in said regard.

The lawmakers challenged the Ministry and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) to also involve the Federation of Liberian Youth and other youth-related stakeholders to the upcoming process to have a holistic and inclusive impact, something, the Ministry and LACE promised to do.

Minister D. Zeogar Wilson disclosed that since he took office in 2018, the project has made an incremental boost from about 27% to about 93% under his watch, describing it as a remarkable milestone in the sector.

The project, which was approved by the World Bank on November 6, 2015 and became effective on September 30, 2016, commenced official implementation on January 9, 2017.

YOP is one of Liberia’s Flagship youth empowerment programs aimed at improving access to income generation opportunities for 15,000 targeted rural and urban youth between ages 15 and 35 across the country.

Minister Wilson said the project is implemented under three basic components namely: Pre- Employment Social Support, Small Business Support (SBS) and Community Livelihood, and Agriculture Support (CLAS)

He said based on lessons learned from previous projects and international best practices, benefits have been packaged to meet the needs of youth in different age cohorts and location in Liberia.

“Out of the 15,000 targeted beneficiaries, about 12,926 have been reached with at least 50% gender parity,” said the Minister.

He recounted that 2,880 youths aged 18-35 living in urban areas, were provided business skills training, mentorship and startup grants to establish and operate 1,645 small businesses under Small Business Support (SBS).

While introducing the REALISE Project, which is expected to kick off by in June, he stated that the new project is intended to support employment and productivity of informal businesses and micro-enterprises to help them recover from the economic impact.

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