The Youth Opportunities Project-YOP with support from the World Bank is to shortly recruit over 3,500 vulnerable Liberian youth to benefit basic life skills training and labor subsidies for farming. The recruitment exercise will begin in early November 2018, and targets rural youth between 18-35 years. This will characterize Phase 2 of the enrolment of beneficiaries into the Productive Public Works-PPW component of the YOP which earlier admitted 3,612 beneficiaries. Ahead of the PPW Phase 2 recruitment exercise, the YOP, October 20, 2018, dispatched 4 technical teams of 3-4 members to the 15 counties of Liberia for 2 weeks to work with local residence and identify prospective communities, and farm land for the project implementation. The teams are also introducing the YOP’s concept to newly appointed county officials, and orientating the public about the project.
“We want to support the young people to cultivate their own potentials, contribute more meaningfully to the nation rebuilding process, and change the negative stereotypes about their characters. If the target of 10,000 youth under the PPW component makes the best use of this agricultural support, Liberia could grow more food and become food sufficient”- Jesse Bengu, YOP National Coordinator said.
As part of the mobilization exercises, the field teams will monitor the level of progress of the Phase 1 farming activities; document the challenges, progress, opportunities, and lesson learned. Reports and recommendations thereof shall lay the ground works for proper execution of the PPW Phase 2 exercise in November.
Expected beneficiaries will be organized into farmers’ cooperatives of 28 members per community, and required to brush, plant, and maintain 35 acres of farm land up to harvest level within an estimated period of 18 months. Farming tools, planting materials, processing machines, and labor subsidies will be made available. The local communities are required to voluntarily provide the land space on which the cultivation shall take place. Additionally, each beneficiary will be trained in small business management, teamwork, network building, self-esteem and confidence building, and effective communications skills.
During the recent observance of “End Poverty Day” in Monrovia, a 34-year-old female YOP beneficiary told a video conference with African youth that for the first time in 6 years, she was able to cater for the tuition fees of her 4 children – just in the 2018/2019 academic year – as a result of the project. A father of 2 also admitted that he felt less of a father or husband prior to joining the project because he was ill-treated on many occasions while soliciting support from relatives and friends to provide for his family. “Now, I own my own commercial motorcycle that feeds my table every day. My venture is also helping to ease the poor transportation condition on my community in Bong County due to bad road.” Other beneficiaries said they have built their self-confidence and can now express themselves freely.
The YOP also has a subcomponent – the Pre-Employment Social Support – targeting 5,000 youth between 15-17 years to prepare their career path and strengthen their moral values. YOP was launched in January 2017 to operate for 5 years and benefit 15,000 youth, nationwide. It is supported by the World Bank through a 10 million dollar loan to the Government of Liberia. The Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment-LACE are joint managers.-Press release