Starting 2019 we will start a new work and training program for unemployed youth and repatriated migrants in The Gambia. The idea arose out of a bitter necessity.
The short facts: In the spring of 2018, the first 1.500 migrants were sent back to their homeland from Europe – also from Germany – and the USA as part of the repatriation agreements between the EU, the IOM (International Organization for Migration) and The Gambia. They had no justification for an asylum status and were therefore deportable. “Well done, problem solved, Germany” one could say. To justify its action, Germany and the EU refer to the “Youth Empowerment Schemes”, heavily subsidized by the EU. And the Gambian government hopes for further funding when it cooperates with EU migration policies.
Now they are there, voluntarily or involuntarily returned to The Gambia – without work, without training, without perspective. Another burden on the already precarious Gambian labor market with a youth unemployment rate of over 40 percent. Another burden for the Gambian society, because the re-integration of these young people is problematic. Often They are considered a failure. Excluded, and without perspective, a potential for conflict is inevitable.
The government has no resources to absorb this, let alone funds to invest in manufacturing industries. Aid requests to international organizations seem to be the only strategy at the moment, and European funding programs are already there.
A parliamentary debate that Momodou Bah – CEO of Rural Development Organization (RDO), our gambian partner organization – and I follow on TV in March 2018, highlights the despair and hopelessness of the Gambian government. We are very concerned. A lively discussion starts about how we can support these young people in the face of overwhelming unemployment in the country.
Momodou sees himself and the RDO in a responsibilty: “We need real perspectives for the youth. We have to create work and income opportunities! We have to do something!”
We think so too. We have to do something!
The work and educational program for Gambian youth
We see a strong economic potential in the field of agriculture in The Gambia. And with the expertise that we have been able to acquire in recent years, we are sure that only an entrepreneurial approach will really create long-term jobs. It is not enough to train young people, to provide them with food and work for a while and then return them into unemployment. We want to empower them to build up their own business as agricultural entrepreneurs.
The idea: In a two year course we will yearly train 100 young Gambians in vegetable farming and related professional fields. The 4-semester agricultural training enables a career entry for 50 graduates per year.
Info: In 2019, 50 apprentices will start the basic training, in 2020 another 50 apprentices will follow. And in 2021, when the first round of students finish their studies, the next 50 trainees will start.
An additional specialization in the 2nd year of training will qualify the students in a wide range of agricultural occupations – such as food processing, landscaping, animal breeding, marketing, sales and accounting. To be able to start their own business after training, the RDO will support individual students with a low interest loan.
In addition to the theoretical training, the students will work in the new NGO garden of the RDO.
Here you can read more about the details of the Gambian You Project.
Not without the support of the Gambian government.
Young people need more than just the occupational work in the garden of their parents of community. They need more than just a day laborer job, more than being fed by relatives, more than running away from the stigma of “failure”. Again and again we were asked by them “When are you going to do something for us?” They want to do something, build their own perspective!
With the project we especially want to empower young people to build up an autonomy as agricultural entrepreneurs. To ensure that they have a realistic chance on the domestic labor market, we spent months talking to ministries, business people, youth counselors and committed experts. We negotiated with the Department of Agriculture, district governors and local officials – with success. The entire project is supported by the Gambian government. For the NGO Garden, the municipality Ballengho has overwritten 10 hectares of land to the RDO for a period of 50 years. The training is officially recognized by the Ministry of Education Gambia.
On the German side, we are financially supported by several companies and organizations, and we expect more funding from federal and state funds.
But that’s not enough. In order to implement the full project, Sabab Lou has to make a tremendous investment itself. For that, we need support.