By: Kebba AF Touray

Officials of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), have expressed that the project is committed to empower and provide jobs for young people. The Officers of the project made these remarks during an interview with this reporter at their Office in Bakau.

Madam Fatoumata Mbenga Jallow, YEP Project Coordinator and Senior Technical Adviser, said they are working in the Tourism, Information and Technology, Fashion and Design, Agriculture and Agro Processing and entrepreneurship, which include training and access to finance through the Mini-Grant Scheme, implemented by NACCUG, amounting to U$1000 (D47,000) and Technical and Vocational Training (TVT) for young Gambians.

“The way we work is that the project is implemented by the International Trade Center and the Youth and Trade Ministries provide the oversight together with the project steering committee and core-teams within thiese Ministries that serve as a guide for YEP,” she said.

She clarified that they have implementing partners who they work with, composing of public and private institutions, through direct contract or a memorandum of understanding (MOU), within which they (YEP) provide financial and technical support for implementation.

“We have 25 partners of which 17 has been through MOU that we have signed. This is the way we work and these are the sectors we are working with. But our focus is on youth between the ages of 15-35 years,” she added.

She said they provide financial and training assistance to youth, but emphasized that the financial aspect is centered on the Mini-Grant Scheme; that they have launched under TVT, the Skill for Youth Employment Fund, amounting to U$300,000 and the application is opened to public and private institutions, to provide skills training for young people, determined by the labor needed at the market. This she said is important adding it will help to create jobs for beneficiaries.

“We want to provide the President’s International Award with sowing machines to equip their units. We procured equipment in agriculture and we are looking at ways of making Janjanbureh a more vibrant Tourism destination, to attract tourists to the provinces, provide training in terms of tour guiding and equipping the youth center therein. All of these is funded form the 11 million Euro project,” she said.

Mr. Modou Touray, the Technical Adviser and the Monitoring and Evaluation officer at YEP, said they have conducted series of trainings for young people on TVT, in the areas of solar, mobile and laptop repairs, conducted training on livelihood skills for young people in collaboration with the YM and skills training on agriculture in partnership with National Research Institute (NARI), ranging from plant propagation, fish farming and animal husbandry and presently conducting training on  construction on compress stabilized earth blocks, which he said is cheaper and environmentally friendly.

“We are expecting to train 1000 or more young people this year. We will make sure that strategies will be made to link the trainees to jobs after the training, without which you will not be selected for the training. This is to make sure that training is not only relevant, but also links to jobs,” he said. He expressed hope that U$ 600,000 worth of agricultural machines will be distributed nation-wide, when received. “All of these is to empower and create employment for young people and will be operated by them. An additional four people will be going to India for advance training on stabilized earth block making, who will in turn train 75 Young people to ensure that the knowledge is inculcated in the country,” he said

Mr. Baboucarr Sallah, Project Operations and Finance Officer, said in 2017, 1,037 young people benefited from YEP programs; that they have reached out to about 38,098 in areas of skills training, entrepreneurship and business development support and facilitated access to finance and awareness raising on economic opportunities and community based tourism with institutions directly supported by the project.

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