The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are collaborating with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to implement a Food for Work programme in Sierra Leone.
UNDP will make available US$1,000,000 from the UN Peace Building Fund resources to create employment and skills acquisition opportunities for young men and women in the country.
The contribution will go to WFP’s programme, “Rural Youth Employment through Food Assistance in Communities Recovering from Impact of War”. The project, which is a scale-up of successful youth employment initiatives, will target some of the poorest and most food insecure regions in Sierra Leone.
Under the programme, approximately 4,000 people will participate in Food for Work activities, representing 20,000 beneficiaries from April to December 2008. Vulnerable groups, including resource-poor women and unemployed youths from food insecure households, will be targeted in these community-driven initiatives. Participants’ selection will be carried out by the local communities together with WFP’s partners, based on the vulnerability of their households and physical fitness. Efforts would be made to encourage the participation of women, individuals from female-headed households and demobilized combatants. The food rations, comprising family rations of 2,000gm of cereals, 400gm of pulses and 125gm of vegetable oil, will assist in reducing the food gaps of vulnerable households, and enabling savings on food expenditures. The participation of youths and ex-combatants in Food for Work activities is expected to mitigate and reduce migration to urban areas.
Along with alleviation of seasonal food insecurity, the project will assist rural communities to rehabilitate productive community and household assets, while providing short-term employment to youths. The following specific results are expected from the project:
A total of 4,000 rural young men and women trained in various vocational and technical skills, which will prepare them for future employment.
A total of 4,000 rural youths participate in food for work based employment and income generation activities;
Improvement and maintenance of 100km of feeder roads for market integration; rehabilitation of 2,000 hectares of degraded smallholder coffee, cocoa and oil palm plantations; rehabilitation of 1,800 hectares of smallholder inland valley swamp rice farms; and the rehabilitation of 10 storage facilities and drying floors.
UNDP Country Director, Bernard Mokam, remarked at the signing ceremony that, “this collaboration signals an effective partnership between two UN agencies to address one of the most serious problems in Sierra Leone -youth unemployment. The project is timely as it will also address food insecurity, which has been increasing recently due to sharply higher food prices.”
The WFP representative, Felix B.F. Gomez, remarked that the project will “build on gains made in terms of recovery and empowerment of vulnerable youth households under the food for work and food for training activities.”
WFP and UNDP will closely monitor the results of the collaboration and may agree to increase the overall scope of the programme to ensure that more young men and women, as well as more communities, benefit from this initiative.