The Youth Opportunities Project Office Emblem

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Focus on the youth in Liberia. Liberia’s National Youth Policy (2012-17) defines youth as persons falling within the category of 15-35 years of age. Youth constitute over 35 percent of the nation’s population[1] and about half of the labor force[2].  Given their number in the overall population and considering the impact of years of civil war on them, as well as the most recent impacts of EVD on every sector of the population as a whole, the government has placed a high priority on increasing income generation opportunities for youth as a means of reducing vulnerability and poverty among them. This is reflected both in the national development agenda (AfT) under which issues affecting youth are classified as “cross-cutting issues” for all sectors and the government’s 2015 post-Ebola Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan.

In support of the Government’s development plans, the World Bank (WB) Country Partnership Strategy has allocated International Development Association (IDA) resources to support the implementation of the youth employment agenda earmarked as key priority by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. A major outcome of this is the development of a project aimed at expanding economic opportunities for youth of Liberia under the name Liberia Youth Opportunities Project (YOP). This initiative builds on the lessons learned from existing youth employment and empowerment projects/ programs to specifically improve access to income generation opportunities for the youth. In addition, the Project aims to support interventions that equip the youth with social skills to access opportunities that lead to improved and sustainable livelihoods and better social cohesion.

The Liberia Youth Opportunities Project (YOP) is funded by a US$10M IDA credit that is aimed at benefiting around 15,000 youth nationwide through four components; namely Pre-employment Social Support and Household Enterprises for urban youth; Productive Public Works and Life Skills Support for Rural Youth; Capacity and Systems Building for Cash Transfers; and Project Implementation and Coordination.

This Project will build on the existing structures to expand on the opportunities for income generation and learning for the youth. The key departure for this Project from current youth employment interventions is the fact that it seeks to engage with the youth to facilitate the creation of opportunities for income generation rather than to create jobs for them. The youth (in their groups and individually) and their respective communities will be the primary beneficiaries of the skills and productive components of this Project. The specific support to be extended to the youth will be discussed with the youth and their communities. They will have the role of enhancing and selecting from a menu of opportunities highlighted in two of the four Project components.

Members of Beneficiaries of the YOP During the launch of the Project

MAJOR FOCUS AREAS

This Project will support the GoL to meet its youth empowerment goals by facilitating a process that will enhance the capacity of the youth to identify opportunities, as well as plan and implement their ideas.

The Project will focus on seven key areas:

  • Harnessing the capacity of the youth through helping them to set and meet specific personal development milestones and increase their access to income generating opportunities;

  • Supporting the acquisition of ‘soft skills’ such as conflict management, financial education, life skills including decision making in sexuality and non-cognitive skills;

  • Supporting the acquisition of business and entrepreneurship skills that would help the youth to engage meaningfully in the private sector (mainly self-employment) and/ or create jobs, access jobs and retain them;

  • Engaging with communities as key support structures for the youth;

  • Building the managerial and coordination capacities of local organizations and agencies to implement youth interventions;

  • Enhancing the capacity of the MYS, LACE, MGCSP, other Government Ministries and partners to effectively and efficiently coordinate and implement youth interventions and other development programs; and

  • Supporting youth with resources to engage in agriculture activities that increase their potentials for income generation.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES

The Project Development Objectives (PDO) are to improve access to income generation opportunities for targeted youth and strengthen the government’s capacity to implement its cash transfer program.

PDO Level Results Indicators

Progress toward meeting the PDO will be measured through the following key outcome indicators:

 Targeted urban youth initiating or expanding household enterprises with support from the project (disaggregated by: (a) initiating household enterprises and (b) expanding household enterprises).

 Share of household enterprises initiated or expanded by targeted urban youth that are operational for more than 6 months (disaggregated by (a) initiated enterprises or (b) expanded household enterprises).

 Average annual earnings of targeted rural youth in productive public works under this project.

 Average share of beneficiary households receiving bimonthly cash transfers before or on 15th of the proceeding month.

 Direct project beneficiaries (Core).

 Direct project beneficiaries (of which female) (Core).

 Beneficiaries of safety nets programs (Core).

 Beneficiaries of labor market programs (Core).

 Share of project beneficiaries satisfied with project interventions.

PROJECT BENEFICIARIES

The project will directly benefit about 15,000 targeted youth aged 15–35 years. There will be 50 percent participation of vulnerable female youth. In addition, the distribution of beneficiaries across urban and rural areas will be based on the proportion of total youth population in each area and poverty levels. Adolescents aged 15–17 years in urban areas will benefit from pre-employment social support. They may participate in other components of the project once they are 18 years old. Youth aged 18–35 years will benefit from the household enterprise and productive public works subcomponents, focusing on urban and rural areas, respectively. The project will also benefit extreme poor and Ebola-affected households by 7 supporting the development of a safety net system, including the development of the management information, electronic registration, and payment systems, as well as a grievance redress mechanism to complement the Emergency Ebola Response Project.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The project will provide apprenticeships to vulnerable youth in urban areas and support agricultural transformation and value chain addition using productive public works and Community-Driven Development (CDD) approaches particularly for youth in rural areas. To mitigate the impact of future shocks, the project will also improve efficiency in the delivery of cash transfers to targeted households, including to youth. Particular focus will be paid to pre-employment and life skills activities to strengthen youth participation in the labor market. The YOP activities will be designed and implemented directly or in close cooperation with the private sector (formal and informal).