By Alfred Fornah
With a 60 percent rate of youth unemployment, Sierra Leone suffers among West Africa’s highest levels of joblessness. One result: youth migrate, often irregularly.
To address this, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Sierra Leone, in partnership with the Freetown City Council, organized a 5-day training on entrepreneurship and sustainable waste treatment for 200 youths from Freetown in early October.
The training aims at providing youth with skills to collect and manage domestic waste while providing them with money to meet their daily needs.
“This will not only help in cleaning the city, reducing health hazards associated with waste but also contribute to generating the much-needed income, and sustainable livelihoods for youth,” explained Dr. James Bagonza, Project Coordinator at IOM Sierra Leone.
Participants were divided into groups to manage 20 different door-to-door waste collection businesses. As part of the process, IOM and partners will also provide them with a 15-months business development support, as well as waste collection equipment and motorized tricycles.
“I am interested in the waste management business. The knowledge gained through this training will empower me and help us combat the problem of waste in our community,” said Lovina Margret Moseray, one of the trainees.
The youth groups will move from door to door to collect household waste including plastic, water sachets, empty bottles and miscellaneous garbage, getting less than a US $1 per bag collected.
Using motorized tricycles, members of these garbage brigades transport wastes to collection points within their communities, where employees designated by the Freetown City Council move the material into recycling or disposal channels.
“Our Ministry is prepared to support young people in the coming months get the appropriate training and skills that will enable them to tap local opportunities rather than risking their lives to go to Europe through irregular means,” said Hon. Luseni Kallon, Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs.
The training was organized within the framework of the project ‘Reducing the Risk of Irregular Migration through Promotion of Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in Sierra Leone’ implemented with funding from the Government of Japan. IOM and the Government of Sierra Leone through this youth empowerment project have plans to roll out other programmes to provide employment and more job opportunities for youths in the country.
At a graduation ceremony here, His Excellency Tsutomu Himeno, Japan’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone, said “You will be looked at by other people, and you are showing by doing your work-. Sometimes it may be tough, but you should take pride in the attention you get, and share your knowledge with others.’
IOM’s Dr. Bagonza added: “Today’s certification ceremony is a step towards creating entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, through doing waste management as a micro-business.”