Over ten million dollars has been provided by different international organizations toward the implementation of the ECOWAS volunteers program in Sierra Leone, disclosed Robert Papra of the African Development Bank (ADB), during the opening ceremony of a five-day induction training program for over 40 ECOWAS volunteers in Sierra Leone.
According to Papra, the money will be used to implement the pilot phase of the program in four West Africa countries, including Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and will involve over one hundred and fifty volunteers from the four countries.
He said the AFDB has provided over $3 million, while the European Union, UN Volunteer program and UNESCO have provided the other sum.
He said the programme was introduced by the ECOWAS Commission to allow youth across the region assist in the development and transformation of post war nation, and to address the issue of youth unemployment which stands at over 70% in the region.
In his remarks, UNDP's Isaiah Akum said that the agency has also pledged equipment and other resources towards the project, and admonished the volunteers to be disciplined and committed to their work in Sierra Leone.
He said there are at present nineteen ECOWAS volunteers serving in the health sector and twenty in the education sector across the country.
Delivering the keynote address, deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Osmond Hanciles praised the ECOWAS volunteers who he said have taken the risk leave their countries to participate in the development of neighboring countries.
He said the government of Sierra Leone would do everything to ensure that all the volunteers are safe and receive adequate conditions of service while serving in the country.
He called on youths across the country to emulate the sacrifice of the volunteers, drawn from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Ghana.
The Country Director for ECOWAS Volunteer Programme Sierra Leone, Zakaria Keita noted that the objective of the training was to ensure that the Volunteers understand the terrain in which they are going to work, added that the ECOWAS volunteers will serve as French teachers and medical practitioners in educational and medical institutions in the country.