By Moses Ziyambi
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 on Wednesday, 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.