Representatives of five Sahel countries implementing the Empowerment initiative dubbed: "Youth, Education for citizenship and Gender Equality" (YEG), have begun deliberations towards strengthening its success in the next phase.
The meeting organised by OXFAM, the implementing agency, with funding from DANIDA, Denmark, is being attended by members of Civil Society Organisations and youth groups from Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Burkina Faso.
YEG Initiative was designed to empower the youth and CSOs at all regional and local levels to enable them to participate actively in the decision making processes and influence governments policies across the Sahel region.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency Mr Tijani Ahmed Hamza, the Country Director, OXFAM, said to ensure the continuous success of the project, it was imperative to bring together the major stakeholders, to identify the various challenges and strategise on the way forward and influence national policies.
For instance, he said, unemployment remained a major challenge for the youth across the African continent, and this required the robust interventions by their governments.
"We will at the end of the meeting share experiences from all the regions and find out the key things and challenges and based on that we will determine which levels of the state's intervention – be it the National Youth Authority, in the case of Ghana, or Parliament or even to influence political parties' manifestos to enhance the youth's participation in political and economic decision making," he said.
Oxfam would develop programmes and provide internship opportunities for the youth to build their capacities to enable them to become active participants in decision making.
Mrs Theodora Williams Anti, the Programme Manager, Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) presenting the achievements made by Ghana, said the project had been able to effect change in 11 national policy initiatives across various sectors.
The implementers were also strategising to push for a pragmatic national policy on Technical and Vocational Education and Training to ensure sustainable technical education.
Mr Wumbei Dokurugu, the Regional Coordinator for the Project, expressed satisfaction over the achievements of the project since its inception in 2018.
"Largely, we have almost achieved half of what the expectations from the countries. Ghana has done a lot in this direction, and I think it will be the pacesetter because it has formidable youth programmes and has also been able to mobilise youth movements across seven different regions," he said.
However, he pointed out that the language barrier, compounded by terrorist threats and insecurity in some implementing countries, remained a major challenge in realising the total objectives and urged governments of such countries to implement policies that would enable the youth to become active citizens rather than agents of destruction.
The four-year project started with Ghana, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone and roped in Niger and Liberia for the final two years.