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Young people’s view on the Ebola Recovery…


After a three day YOUTH LEADERSHIP FORUM by the Ministry of Youth Affairs, National Youth Commission, Restless Development Organization, Youth and Child Advocacy Network (YACAN) and partners on Ebola Response and Recovery, about 200 youths have had the opportunity to come up with recommendations to help government and partners plan the recovery phase of the Ebola Virus Disease.
The event which started on Wednesday 27th May 2015 at the Raddisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen Freetown had as the keynote speaker the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma who said she was delighted to be part of a forum where young people can now deliberate on issues of national development. As she acknowledged the role played by young people during the Ebola epidemic, she noted that young people are the hope and future of the country. She said although young people are faced with challenges like unemployment, disenfranchisement, teenage pregnancy, refusal to go to school and drug abuse, they should however proffer solution to their problems.


As she ended her keynote address, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma said as the country moves towards Ebola recovery, proactive young leaders are needed to take it forward and hoped that the three day forum will map a way for a better Sierra Leone.
The First Lady’s address was followed by a panel discussion on the four thematic areas of government in the Ebola recovery plan: Education, Health, Private Sector and Social Protection which let young people into the moment to come up with solid recommendations in their second day group work. The panelists were: Dr. Victor Massaquoi (Education Consultant) -Education, Mr. Abubakar Kamara (National Aids Secretariat) - Health, Mr. Joe Abass Bangura (Call To Business) - Private Sector Development and Mr. Mohamed Rashid Bah (NaCSA) – Social Protection.


The young people suggested ways they could contribute to each of the thematic areas. Under Education, government’s priority is to “Bring all children back to school, maintaining safe and active learning”. Youths can form themselves into District Education Task Forces to monitor school facilities and learning of students, formation of schools health and sanitation clubs and lobby for non-formal education opportunities among others. Health is very key to the thematic areas for which government has as its priority “Ensure hospitals and primary health care facilities are safe and have capacity to provide essential health care”. Continuous social mobilization, community action and contact tracing activities through established youth structures to help build trust in health care system and encourage the use of family planning services were highlighted as essential to the plan. The Private Sector priority is to “Draw farmers and unemployed people into formal economy”. The young people suggested that the establishment and management farmer cooperatives and monitoring through mobile data can be handled by youths. However, a major concern for the young people was capacity building in districts through 144 officers, and 1,000 social welfare workers under the Social Protection Recovery Plan. The recruitment of these officers they believe will be flawed and therefore suggested at least a 30% representation of those to be trained. Among their task will be, verification and harmonization of information relating to the most vulnerable people through mobile data collection and local level knowledge, continued community engagement to tackle social issues and stigmatization against vulnerable groups (survivors and people with disability).
These recommendations were presented to stakeholders including the government, private sector, partners and youth serving organizations. Among the issues highlighted by stakeholders from the recommendations were, effective youth activism and volunteerism, how youths can work with local structures to reduce or end teenage pregnancy and child marriage and how young people can be productive so they can contribute positively to the development of the country.
In his closing statement, Anthony Koroma Commissioner, National Youth Commission applauded the youth for what he referred to as “a very productive and inspiring session”. He said the forum gave authorities an opportunity to know what young people want and how to mobilize resources to meet such initiatives. He encouraged them to incorporate these recommendations into existing plans and see what sector or groups they can collaborate with to ensure a successful implementation.

 

 

 

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