Canadian-funded project for Sudanese youth gets underway
Khartoum, 21 March 2012: As part of efforts to empower young Sudanese to be more actively involved in community affairs, the Ministry of Youth and Sports signed the 2012 Annual Work Plan for the Youth LEAD Project with UNICEF Sudan at an event held here today.
Mr. Abdel Hadi Mohamad Kheir Abdul Raheem, Under Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, said: “Young people have the power to change and support change. Whoever is not giving you space is working against what the holy Prophet said many years ago.”
The Youth LEAD (Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy and Development) Project is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and other partners. It aims to empower young people between 10-24 years with the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for them to become productive members of their communities and reduce conflict-related vulnerabilities.
Speaking at the ceremony, UNICEF Sudan Country Representative a.i. Ms. Anupama Rao Singh said: “Sudan is a young country, with 30 per cent of its population falling between the age group of 10-24. If we are not listening to the young people, not helping them reach their full potential, we are not investing in the future of the country.” She added that the large youth population in Sudan represents an opportunity to channel vast human capital for development, leadership and peace building. The ceremony was graced by Ms. Natalie Patenaude, Head of Aid for Sudan at the Embassy of Canada.
The Youth LEAD Project targets most disadvantaged sections of the youth population, including adolescent girls and young women, out-of-school young people, youth associated with armed forces/groups, young people in need of special protection such as street youth, those with disabilities and young people who are members of mobile populations including nomadic youth.
It hopes to empower youth to overcome challenges posed by poverty, limited social services, difficulties in transitioning into the workforce and, most importantly, gender inequality. The project will support youth development by influencing policies and development plans at federal and state level, it will also provide youth friendly services and spaces for most disadvantaged young people in selected conflict-affected localities in three states of South Darfur, West Darfur and Kassala.
Services provided to young people will include alternative learning programmes, linkages to employment and entrepreneurship schemes, life skills programmes and civic engagement. Young people will also be provided with fora to share their views and opinions with decision makers and contribute to policy dialogue.
Youth representatives summed up their expectations for the project during consultations that were conducted last year as follows: “We should never give up and surrender to unemployment and lack of opportunities. What we need is not only a job, but rather an opportunity through which we can regain our dignity; we need to be empowered.”
For further information, please contact: Simon Ingram, UNICEF Chief of Communication, Sudan, +249 912 177 573, firstname.lastname@example.org