Harnessing Youth Talents to Rebuild Darfur

Kawther is a recent graduate from the Zalingei University in Central Darfur, where she read Agriculture and Crop Science Studies. Like many other youth in her community, she hopes for peace and stability in a region that has long suffered the consequences of conflict. Believing in the importance of young people working together for a common future, Kawther took part in the Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur Project (YVRDP) under the' Environment Volunteers' scheme.

This project is a joint initiative by the Government of Sudan, UNDP, UNV and Sudanese universities in El Fasher, Nyala and Zalingei. It aims to establish a youth-volunteers scheme to promote environmentally sustainable initiatives to reduce poverty and encourage private sector development. The project works with a range of partners to bring skills such as business and risk management, financial and ICT skills, green business planning and climate change adaptation strategies to graduate youth in rural communities.

Through imparting these skills and knowledge, the project wants to encourage more entrepreneurial spirit and empathy amongst these skilled graduates. The graduates are then encouraged to use their skills to help link rural communities and peri-urban entrepreneurs to markets, suppliers and urban centres. The project believes that empowering youth is a critical step to securing a stable Darfur for all.

Kawther explained, "Our communities face many problems such as lack of quality education, illiteracy and low agricultural know-how. For example, my community grows crops but they are not well cultivated. So I am hoping to share what I have learned at university and the new information I will acquire at the training here to help these farmers cultivate better crops which they can then sell to the markets."

Elzeber Ibrahim hopes to do the same as well through the 'Business Broker Volunteers' scheme. He graduated from El Fasher University having completed courses in business management. He hopes to gain specific skills under this training to complement what he has learned at university.

"I really hope to combine the newly skills and use the new found skills and my business management background to help communities design business projects using available local materials. I believe in the long run, this would generate more income for the communities, "said Elzeber cheerfully.

Under this joint initiative, 200 youths were identified in the Darfur region to be part of the three-week long training conducted in El Fasher ( Northern Darfur); El Geneina (West Darfur) and Nyala (South Darfur), where they are learning a variety of skills under the two different schemes. All youth volunteers will also be trained in conflict sensitivity to ensure future activities undertaken will not cause further harm to the community. The first group of 65 volunteers from North Darfur is graduating from the training on May 30 and will now be deployed to communities in the state during the month of June.. The project was made possible thanks to the contributions and support of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Sudan.

For more information, please contact Crispen Rukasha, Programme Manager (Darfur Recovery and Livelihoods Programme) UNDP Sudan crispen.rukasha@undp.org

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