As part of its Youth Advancement Program in post-conflict Liberia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has officially launched the Youth Development Alliance (YDA), with a call for the formulation of economic concepts and the provision of entrepreneurial skills to young people in the country.
By Obediah Johnson
It also called for the strengthening of the capacity of young people to realize their full potential and be adequately prepared to face the challenges ahead.
The alliance was launched at a program held in Monrovia on Thursday, March 23.
Speaking during the launch, USAID Youth Advance Chief of Party Mr. Steve Kamanzi disclosed that the establishment of the Alliance commenced in 2022 with the involvement of representatives from various youth organizations in the country.
He added that the Alliance is intended to also bring together stakeholders to discuss challenges confronting young people, and exploring solutions, opportunities and strategies to mitigate those challenges.
He noted that the launch of the Alliance would also have a positive impact on the development of youths in the country.
“We want youth voices to be heard. This is a project of USAID to make sure that whatever we are doing together as stakeholders will have a long term impact, including sustainability, employability and economic developments of young people.”
Mr. Kamanzi stated that youths can properly use the knowledge and their expertise to mobilize resources to forge ahead, and as such, their voices must also be heard in the private sector.
Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Director of the Liberia Career Pathways Mr. Kenety S. Gee urged young people to watch out for, protect and seek the welfare of one another if they must succeed in the future.
He said this would only happen when the society creates equitable laws and culture that seek to provide equal opportunity for every member of the society.
He stated that if a member or segment of a population seem to be floundering, society find ways for those in that category to get back up on their feet. adding that, “the human community was never meant to be survivor of the fittest society.”
Mr. Gee indicated that as human population grew and expanded, philosophers developed the ethical concept of utilitarianism which holds that actions are right when their outcome benefits the greatest number of people, or choices seek the greatest good for the masses.
On a larger scale, he observed that community and societal leaders can make utilitarian or ethical choices by spending scarce resources in ways that benefit the majority.
“When we make choices and decisions that seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people as a society, we are ensuring sustainable social economic development for our society and its members. This is what the Youth Development Alliance (YDA) seeks to do under the USAID Youth Advance Program, implemented by the Education Development Center (EDC).”
“When in our families or in society we seek to do what is best for us as individuals or group of individuals, without regard for the wellbeing of others, we are impeding and endangering the wellbeing of others.”
Mr. Gee stressed that the lives of other will continue to be threatened when resources allocated are only intended to benefit those who are in charge of it.
He said the wellbeing of Liberia and its citizens, especially young people require the development of economic concepts that will create a middle class.
He maintained that a strong middle class must be developed for citizens to live on an average level to take care of themselves and their respective family members.
“We will always have poor people, but the society must create a strong middle class. And this is a big difference between our country and other countries. Other countries will figure out ways for a strong middle class-their citizens are not all rich, but they can afford to take care of themselves.”
Mr. Gee maintained that the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen in Liberia if steps are not taken to empower and develop the capacity of young people, who constitute majority of the country’s population.
He, however, expressed the hope that the Youth Advance Program of the USAID will develop strong concepts to bridge the huge gap between Liberian youths and their counterparts in other countries.
Providing an overview of YDA action plan, SHIFD Program Manager Jerry K. Bleh disclosed that YDA is a local mechanism/platform that helps improve coordination, communication amongst all local stakeholders under one platform; promote efficiency and leverages of resources, address potential overlaps amongst partners; and improve service delivery for Liberian communities through active participation, dialogue, accountability and information sharing.
He pointed out that the mechanism is presently operating in three counties in Liberia with a focus on building the capacity and empowering young Liberians.
“The biggest challenges that we anticipate may include things like, having the same beneficiaries among stakeholders; providing same package; etc. The YDA therefore comes to support the Ministry of Youth and Sports to address coordination challenges. Stakeholders therefore need to develop a common agenda, identify leverages opportunities and jointly implement in order to achieve collective and sustained impact.”
He pointed out that the Alliance will bring together multi sectoral youth development stakeholders under one platform to converge efforts for the achievement of a shared agenda contributing to a sustainable social-economic development.
He added that in Lofa, Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties, the Alliance will also conduct a launch and commissioning of Core Committee, annual planning of activities that will jointly be implemented by YDA members at the county level and quarterly coordination and learning and experience sharing meetings.
Mr. Bleh noted that YDA will conduct annual open days to showcase its achievements to wider stakeholders and communities.