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YPARD Rwanda- A Voice on Youth Engagement in Youth Employment

The Youth Employment Funders Group (YEFG) with funding from Citi Foundation has released a call for proposals to develop a white paper and roadmap that would provide a common understanding of youth engagement in the context of youth employment policies, programs and strategies. It will also include a roadmap for funders that outlines recommendations for meaningfully engaging youth in the various phases of their youth employment programs and when designing the policy or strategy for their youth employment initiatives.

It is in this context YPARD Rwanda participated in providing expertise and knowledge on how youth in East and West Africa benefit from youth employment initiatives. The chapter also shared some knowledge on the challenges that youth still face on their quest to achieving their dreams.

Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes meet in East Africa. The country with Kigali as its capital city remains one of the smallest countries on the African.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, over 50% of the Rwandan population is under 20 years old and above 80% of young people in Rwanda live in rural areas.

The rate of unemployment among Rwandans dropped to 14.5 per cent in February this year, down from 16 per cent in February 2019, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

Among sectors that have contributed to the drop in the unemployment rate, agriculture continues to be on the list as many young people continue to embrace agriculture and livestock.

Ndizeye Gisele is YPARD Rwanda member with an educational background in Mass Communication from Mount Kenya University. Gisele with her 8 years of experience in Young Women Empowerment has participated in this knowledge sharing on the “White Paper” on Youth Engagement in Youth Employment.

“I have been selected and competed to participate in many youth employment initiatives across Africa and beyond. I have gained huge knowledge and skills, which have helped me to be successful in my work. Being invited to share ideas among older people who have greater experience than I do is an opportunity I wish every young person would have.”

Gisele added that not only did she benefit from her previous involvement in youth employment initiatives, but she also had an opportunity to present her views and insights as a young person among the elderly.

“I remember the day I was invited as a young woman among doctors and professors in Uganda. I was less confident at that time- but as the meeting continued, my confidence was developed. I provided inputs, ideas and support- my voice was heard. This is to say that they are many young people with brilliant ideas, who need to be motivated, coached and oriented.”

Niyokwiringirwa Priscilla, another YPARD Rwanda member with an educational background in Agricultural and Environmental Management from the University of Rwanda, who participated in this “White Paper” recommended that youth who live in rural areas need more attention.

“Paying attention to the opportunities that exist in the urban areas and comparing them with those in rural areas, one realizes that they are different. Some young people are doing amazing work in agriculture and livestock in rural areas. We do have agro-entrepreneurs from these marginalized locations. I, therefore, point out the need for this category of young people to be reached and for all policies and programs to be inclusive. I am sure this will reduce the number of young people who left behind farming and come to urban cities to look for jobs.“

According to Plan International, this “White Paper” on Youth Engagement in Youth Employment has involved and gathered ideas from youth between 25-30 aged world-wide.

In a recent conference which took place in Kigali- Rwanda, the Food Agriculture Organizations of United Nations (FAO) stated that over 60% of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25; yet with little job creation currently in the rural areas where the majority of the population resides, there is growing uncertainty over the continent’s preparedness to tap into this resource.

Tens of millions of jobs will have to be created each year in rural areas for Africa to harness the dividends of this youthful population.

Realising that agriculture is an essential driver of economic development and an area of great opportunities for young people in Africa, it is important to take measures to attract more youth into the sector. This can be achieved by harnessing opportunities in agribusiness entrepreneurship and innovations, including in ICT innovations along the value chains This will contribute to improving the sector’s image as it increases productivity and returns on investment and provides new employment opportunities for the youth.

Gisele and Priscilla are grateful to YPARD Rwanda and Plan International for having chosen them to participate in this “White Paper” by sharing their ideas, experiences. They believe their contributions will help many young people in youth employment initiatives as well as many funders to get a clear understanding of the needs of young people.

Photo credit: Jean Claude Habimana