The Point (Banjul)

Gambian Youths Make Demands

The conference component of NaYCONF 2012 Tuesday wrapped up with young people making demands from the authorities - central and local government, civil society and development partners, among others - to make more moves towards changing the lives of the country's youth.

The resolution, signed by head of delegation of all the seven administrative regions, and the NYC executive secretary, Marcel Mendy, came on the heels of a five-day conference which saw the presentation of resolutions from regional representatives, and panel discussions featuring key government agency representatives, private sector and development partners.

It is published below in full:

"Reminding all delegates of the theme of the 10th National Youth Conference and Festival (Directing and Re-orienting Youth participation towards the productive sectors of the Economy), attended by over 100 youths representing Regions, Municipalities and National Youth Organizations, colleagues from Guinea Bissau and Senegal, from the 4th - 8th January, 2013 in the Central River Region;

"Influenced by the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and Vision 2020, and reaffirming the provisions of the National Youth Policy and Programme of Action 2009 to 2018, which provides for Government to work in partnership with young people and other relevant partners with the aim of championing youth development and empowerment in The Gambia.

"Noting with appreciation, the support of the Government of The Gambia in its efforts directed at building a better and stronger Gambia, with the effective participation of young people. Also noting the contribution of the Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organizations and United Nations Agencies;

"Encourages all relevant Ministries of the Government of The Gambia, Departments and Development Agencies, Local Government Authorities as well as Civil Society Organisations and the Media to collaborate and work more closely with youths at the Grassroots and National Level, in order to facilitate the effective participation of young people in decision making and practical aspects of development, and subsequently engage in directing and re-orienting youth participation towards the productive sectors of the Economy.

"Calls for the allocation of financial and material resources towards youth initiatives at both National and Local level through the piloting of innovative and smart youth-focused programmes and activities, with a view to creating employment for young people and thus serve as a strategy to minimise the incidence of youth involvement in drug abuse, rural-urban drift and illegal migration. Also call on Local Government Authorities to make special budgetary allocations (at least 10% of their budget) for Youth initiatives at both Regional and Municipal levels;

"Request the Ministry of Youth and Sports to renovate and re-equip existing regional youth and sporting centres and ensure transfer of skills and training to all Regions of The Gambia to participate equally in all sporting activities. Also call on Ministry of Youths and Sports to provide financial and material resources to the Regional Youth Committees (RYC) through the Secretariat of the National Youth Council in order to transform RYCs into a more responsive, pro-active and inclusive decentralized youth organs of the Gambia National Youth Council.

"Also request the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology through the National Training Authority to ensure that Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) for youth is prioritized as an engine for economic growth and effective youth participation towards the productive sectors of the Economy. Further request the establishment of skills and training centres in regions where they are non-existent.

"Also urges young people of The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and the entire sub-region to desist from substance abuse, trafficking, corrupt practices, rape and other criminal activities, as well as engage themselves in awareness creation campaigns and advocacy towards the promotion of meaningful livelihood for youths;

"Encourage Government, Civil Society, UN Agencies and Private Sector in partnership with Grassroots and National Youth Organizations to mainstream youth development in all their programmes and activities;

"Request for the support, commitment and partnership of Government and relevant stakeholders in the full implementation of the following recommendations as part of Resolutions of the 10th National Youth Conference and Festival 2012 through the following priority of actions:

Government and Local Government Authorities

Amplify and strengthen the Regional Youth Farms Programme by further providing material and financial resources for the active participation of young people in smart agriculture and related fields in all Regions of The Gambia.

"Establish special youth-focused and market-based schemes (with adequate material, technical and financial support) for young people to engage in innovative and productive sectors of the economy with special focus on Fisheries (provision of boats, machines, fishing accessories and storage facilities), particularly in major fishing areas.

"Strengthen and accelerate Youth Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights programmes in curbing teenage pregnancy, reducing the rate of HIV infections and further discouraging harmful traditional practices that discriminate against young women and girls.

"Promote and enhance equal opportunities for physically-challenged youths and ensure easy access to facilities and other amenities through the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its Optional Protocol (OP-CRPD).

"Develop a National Youth Employment Strategy to direct and guide youth employment interventions by NEDI, NYSS, GAMJOBS and other existing youth employment programmes, with a special focus on youth in the productive sectors of the economy.

"Engage local authorities to enhance land access, control and ownership to young people with special emphasis on women.

Civil Society Organizations and Development Partners

"Provide financial and material resources to National Youth Council and youth-led organizations at the grassroots and national level to engage in awareness creation and advocacy activities against illegal drug abuse and crime, youth and illegal migration, and health-related (HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Malaria etc) issues and environmental sustainability projects.

"Develop rehabilitation and integration programmes including livelihood skills development and provision of incentives for traumatised young people (i.e. youth affected by illegal drugs, youth returnees from illegal migration etc.) to rejuvenate them back into society.

"Initiate youth entrepreneurship pilot projects and innovative enterprises across the country on youth in the productive sectors of the economy for self-employment, thereby complementing government's efforts in the implementation of the PAGE, Vision 2020 and the Gambia National Youth Policy.

"Decentralise the programmes and funding of youth service organizations in all regions and municipalities in order to increase access and opportunities for young people.

Ministry of Youth and Sports

"Increase financial subvention to the National Youth Council and help secure land and fundraise for the development of a Youth House as Secretariat of the National Youth Council with multi-purpose facilities and space to also host other youth-led organizations.

"Review the National Youth Council Act, and popularize the Gambia National Youth Policy 2009-2018, ECOWAS Youth Policy and the African Youth Charter.

National Youth Council

"To be more responsive and pro-active in coordinating and championing youth development and empowerment issues and at all levels.

"Capacitate council members and regional structures, registered youth organizations and staff of secretariat through capacity building training programmes.

"Celebrate 28th March- date of the establishment of National Youth Council - as National Youth Day.

"Launch with support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the UN Youth Delegate Programme for Gambia as established in other countries to include youth as part of the official government delegation to the UN General Assembly meetings.

"Designate every four years for the bidding of NaYCONF to enable host regions in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and National Youth Council to build a NaYCONF village. We further recommend that the host region contributes 10 per cent of the cost.

Conference Delegates and Youths of The Gambia

"Change attitude towards employability and participate in the productive sectors of the economy, especially in sectors dominated by non-Gambians. "Develop positive attitudes and discourage peers from illegal migration, corrupt practices, bribery and be law-abiding and responsible citizens at all times.

"Promote environmental sustainability and stewardship for present and future generations;

"Pledge allegiance to The Gambia and promote peaceful co-existence at all times.

Continued Follow Up and Evaluation

"Looking forward, we stress the need for quarterly monitoring and evaluation of NaYCONF 2012 resolutions, performed by all parties involved, which are the various regions/municipalities and National Youth Organizations."

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