By Buba Gagigo
YEP Africa, a leading youth development organization in The Gambia, convened a participatory dialogue on Tuesday to address the pressing issues of youth unemployment and irregular migration.
The dialogue, held at YEP Africa’s Brikama office, brought together stakeholders including Buba Touray from NEDI, Ismaila Badjie, program manager at the National Youth Council, Bubacarr Kanteh, from the Brikama Area Council, and numerous others involved in youth matters in the country.
Sirreh Darboe, Operational Manager at YEP Africa, highlighted the challenging situation faced by many young people in The Gambia. She emphasized the need for a conducive environment for youth to explore their talents and businesses, citing factors such as poverty, unemployment, insufficient skill development centers, and a lack of effective policies addressing youth development.
“I begin by stating the fact that, most young people in the Gambia are in a state of dilemma. Why do I say this? Because way back in 2015, we lost a chunk of young people due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty, they found themselves choosing an alternative, the back way, as a way out, and we lost a lot during those years. Today, history has repeated itself, we lost and mourned once again our missing and dead young people. The factors remain the same: a lack of a good enabling environment for youth to explore their talents and businesses; poverty; unemployment; a lack of enough skill centers and skills among many youths; and a lack of impressive policies to address issues affecting youth development,” Sirreh Darboe, Operational manager at YEP Africa, said during her welcoming remarks.
Darboe urged for strong partnerships, both locally and internationally, to influence positive change in youth development. She called on young people to take the initiative and create their own future. She stressed the urgency to collaborate and establish small companies, factories, skill centers, and career development initiatives. According to her, waiting for a better future is not an option, and it is up to the youth to be the agents of change.
“The time is now to create that future. It is now equally time for young people to come together and create their own future because when it comes to our future, we should not have the patience to wait. We should come together and partner with like-minded fellow youth to create mini-companies, factories, skill centers, and career development initiatives with one another. Must we not get tired of waiting? We must start creating the music of hope, and be ready to dance to it together. This will change the narrative and the status quo; it is only the youth who are the change,” she said.
Bubacarr Kanteh, representing the chairman of the Brikama Area Council, expressed the belief that participatory dialogue is a potent tool in combating youth unemployment and irregular migration. He referenced the United Nations’ emphasis on the role of participatory dialogue in building cohesive societies and promoting peace. Kanteh highlighted the importance of engaging youth in policy dialogue, social justice, inclusion, and social cohesion to address the root causes of youth unemployment and migration.
“The United Nations emphasizes the importance of participatory dialogue in building socially cohesive societies and promoting peace, including in post-conflict societies. Engaging youth in policy dialogue, social justice, inclusion, and Social cohesion can have a lasting impact on preventing irregular migration. In the context of youth unemployment and migration, participatory dialogue can help address the root causes of these issues and involve young people, in decision-making processes that affect their lives,” Kanteh said.
Ismaila Badjie, the program manager at the National Youth Council, attributed irregular migration to the low pay scale in the country rather than unemployment.