UNDP Youth Development Fund

Nov 20, 2014

UNDP Assistant Representative Mrs Sarah Mwilima with officials from the Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture at the launch

The United Nations Development Program in Namibia launched its first ever "Youth Development Fund". This initiative was inspired by the recently launched UNDP Youth Strategy titled, “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future which was launched in March 2014 in Tunis.

The largest-ever youth generation presents exceptional challenges and opportunities for sustainable human development. Youth make up 60 percent or more of the population in many UNDP programme countries.

Namibia is challenged with a high unemployment rate of over 50%, most of whom are youth. Lack of funds, skills and/ or experience to pursue careers are some of the factors that force the Namibian youth to stay unemployed and survive on the little they have, while some resort to crime as a way of generating income.

The Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC) has a Youth Empowerment Programme that offers short training programmes for youth without school-leaving certificates. Youth from all regions can be enrolled in various training courses. Ones particularly relevant to the UNDP include courses in environmental education and awareness, tourism, gender, youth and reproductive health, integrated rural youth development, advocacy and youth leadership development. Given the growing tourism sector in Namibia and the intrinsic link between tourism and the environment, supporting youth for tourism training is seen as a good entry point for the UNDP. Such training can capacitate the youth with necessary skills and knowledge to seek employment in these sectors. Most are trained to become certified field/tour guides who can secure employment at various national parks and private nature reserves. Such training is offered by Wilderness Safaris, at absolutely no cost.

Some of the key objectives of MYNSSC are:

  • To mobilize the Namibian youth in urgent tasks of national reconstruction and development.
  • To provide opportunities for youth to develop relevant life and work skills which will help them to become responsible and self-reliant members of the community.

The above objectives resonate with the UN’s mandate for sustainable human development and, given the ministry already has the programme established, it provides an existing platform from which UNDP can make a positive difference. Given UNDP’s limited interactions and collaboration with this Ministry to date, and the increased focus on youth development globally, this avenue offers a great opportunity for a long-term partnership.

In her keynote address at the launch, Ms Sarah Mwilima (UNDP Assistant Resident Representative) stressed that Capacity development is recommended as the most efficient means of getting UNDP involved with the youth at national level. Training of out of school youth could be one solution to fight the high level of unemployment amongst youth and in Namibia in gene

Furthermore, UNDP has committed an initial USD 10 000 to sponsor at least 40 youth for training in 2014/2015.

She finally concluded with a quote by UN SG Ban Ki-moon saying: “We must help young people to build the future they want. This should be in our hearts and on top of every agenda, the priorities of young people should be just as prominent in our halls as they are on the streets and squares. They should be just as present in our meeting space as they are in cyberspace.”