International Youth Day
The African Development Bank (AfDB) joins the International Community to commemorate the International Youth Day on 12 August 2006. This year’s celebrations are being held on theme "Tackling Poverty Together". This day presents an opportunity to focus on practical actions to further the empowerment of youth and their participation in the processes and decisions that affect their lives.
According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2000, over 500 million youths live on less than $2 per day. Some 22.5 percent of the world’s youth live in extreme poverty, on less than $1 dollar a day. Today, there are about 3 billion young people in the world under the age of 25 and about 85 percent of them in developing countries. According to the State of World Population Report 2005, youths comprise the world’s most unemployed group. While employment affords some opportunity to earn, learn and develop new skills, many others are trapped in low-wage and low-skills sectors with no opportunities to advance or escape poverty, yet the youths are crucial to poverty reduction and development.
In the sub-Saharan region, for example, although the primary school enrollment has increased to 64 per cent since 1990/1991, fewer than half the children of primary-school age are enrolled in schools compared to 95 per cent in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Of particular concern is the wide gender gap in sub-Saharan Africa where almost 80 per cent of the world’s out-of-school children live. The HIV- AID epidemic also remains centered in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with just over 10 per cent of the world’s people, yet home to 64 percent of HIV-positive people and 90 percent of all youth living with the virus.
Over the last 10 years, the numbers of refugees, many of whom are youths, have increased from 8.5 million to 19 million in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa alone. The plight of youths in these regions is further aggravated by the phenomenon of young soldiers and ex-combatants who have missed out in terms of schooling and parental moral development. These enormous challenges provide bleak prospects for the youth. As a result, many youths are looking to their governments for solutions to their problems.
In recognition of these challenges and the urgent need to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, the ADB Group has recognized the need to mainstream population issues in all its interventions with the aim of safeguarding young people's rights. It is also promoting gender equality and mainstreaming in the national development programs, to help young people attain adulthood successfully.
In line with the management declaring 2005 as "the year of implementation’’, the Bank Group has expedited the implementation of its new poverty reduction policy by undertaking several activities that have direct impact on the youth. These include: disseminating various elements of economics of poverty among staff; training staff in the "economics of poverty’’, as well as social impact analysis (PSIA) and their articulation in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).
The Bank is also promoting reforms that ensure the reinforcement of capacities of young people through the promotion of quality teaching in the higher education, science, technology and vocational training. It is supporting regional member countries (RMCs) in their efforts to create a favorable participatory political, social and economic environment with a view to reducing the brain drain.
Since the implementation of the Results-Based Management (RBM) and Results Measurement Framework, the Bank has strengthened the Poverty focus of Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) and enhanced the capacity of RMCs to achieve Development Effectiveness efforts and make progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Bank has also taken steps to deepen the poverty reduction dimensions of specific areas such as agricultural and rural development infrastructure, and allocating more resources to the education, health, water and sanitation sectors which have direct impact on youths.
On this year’s International Youth Day, the Bank Group would like to reaffirm its determination to promote the empowerment and participation of youths in the processes and decisions that affect their lives. The Bank also shares the view that the youth are the future leaders, and should be prepared to take on leadership roles. Their talents must also be utilized in overcoming poverty, hunger, and conflict in Africa.
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