A multi-stakeholder consultation on the African Development Bank's first Human Capital Development Strategy concluded yesterday with over 80 participants from the 7 IGAD member states - Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
Participants stressed the need for producing manpower with relevant skills, competence and flexibility to meet the needs of their country and the region as a whole. They also called for provision of equitable education, health and other basic services, especially for nomadic pastoralists, migrant workers and refugees.
Total Somali refugee population consists of over 1 million people, most of them children and youth . Other issues featuring prominently included governance, financial and social accountability, migration and labor mobility, impacts of malnutrition on early childhood development, mobile health and education, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking.
Youth employment as well as peace and arts education as a conflict and post conflict management strategy was also discussed. In his opening remarks, His Excellency Dileita Mohamed Dileita, the Prime Minister of Djibouti told the participants that human capital development is key to safeguard the peace and security in the region. He stated that there is an urgent need to focus on the development of youth as the future of the continent depends on them.
As a country, we are considering this matter as a high priority and have committed ourselves to ensure the youth are engaged at all levels," pointed out the Premier. "Youth have been relegated to the sidelines instead of being included in shaping the programs that affect them", said Assistant Commissioner for Youth and Children Affairs of Uganda. He appealed to both the public and private sectors to work towards the revival of national youth service schemes that would inculcate a sense of purpose in life and patriotism.
Participants stressed the need to tap on the large African Diaspora. While remittances to Africa play an important role to national economies, especially in fragile states, the role of the diaspora can go much beyond - like serving as mentors to African youth and training faculty in higher education institutions. According to a joint African Development Bank/World Bank publication "Remittances inflow to Africa quadrupled in the 20 years since 1990, reaching $40 billion (2.6 percent of GDP) in 2010. They are the continent's largest source of net foreign inflow after foreign direct investment (FDI)" In several fragile states, remittances are estimated to exceed 50% of GDP.
Participants included mostly technical government officials from Ministries of Education, Health, Labor, Social Protection, Gender, Youth, as well representatives from academia, civil society and the private sector. The meeting was organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) -a regional economic community responsible for aligning and adapting policies and strategies in the region. It also plays a key role in securing political engagement from member states and developing indicators for better monitoring and evaluation of development programs.
Nawsheen Elaheebocus, Nawsheen Elaheebocus, Sr. Human Development Officer, African Development Bank
Fathia Alwan, Fathia Alwan, Program Manager, Health and Social Development, IGAD Secretariat