The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) has launched the Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Program, a US$5
million economic empowerment initiative as part of its wider activities that
support the people of Zimbabwe.
The latest initiative will help
create economic opportunities to address youth unemployment, increase incomes,
and combat rising poverty among young people in urban and rural areas.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting of the
Local Works Zimbabwe Stakeholder Meeting in Harare today, October 07, USAID
Zimbabwe Mission Director Art Brown said his organization valued the
participation of the youth in leadership.
“USAID would like young people to take the
driver’s seat. Our approach under the
Local Works program is slightly different from the traditional method of
development program design and implementation.
We want you as young people to take the lead in defining and addressing
the diverse challenges you face so that we support you to meet your social and
economic needs,” said Brown.
USAID says the new initiative
will facilitate collaborative solutions to address some of the most critical
challenges facing the youth in Zimbabwe.
“USAID will support young Zimbabweans, along
with other local actors – communities, youth networks, organizations, private
sector, and others – to set their own development agenda, develop solutions,
and ultimately, make those solutions a reality.
“USAID will facilitate the design of the Local
Works Zimbabwe Youth Program, and also support the establishment of a Youth
Advisory Board, which will oversee the design and implementation of this
initiative. This will ensure that youth
lead the program and their voice is part of the design, implementation, and
monitoring of activities,” the organization said in a press release.
USAID also intends to engage the private
sector, including identifying opportunities for co-design and co-financing of
activities, all while promoting innovation and increased economic opportunities
for the youth.
Research shows that young people,
especially women, remain more likely to be unemployed than any other group in
Zimbabwe. The same demographic group has the least employment chances and was
recently found to be the most adversely affected by the impact of Covid-19.
Over the past 40 years, USAID has
contributed over $3.2 billion in assistance to Zimbabwe in such areas as food security,
economic resilience and promoting democratic governance.
Through the Presidential
Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), the US is the largest contributor to
the country’s anti-HIV efforts, allowing many people to access Anti-Retroviral
Treatment free of charge.