THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Program, a US$5 million economic empowerment initiative. This youth-led initiative will help create economic opportunities to address youth unemployment, increase incomes, and combat rising poverty among young people in urban and rural areas.
In his remarks at the Local Works Zimbabwe Stakeholder Meeting, held on October 7, USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Mr. Art Brown said, “USAID would like young people to take the driver’s seat. Our approach under the Local Works program is slightly different from the traditional method of development program design and implementation.
We want you as young people to take the lead in defining and addressing the diverse challenges you face so that we support you to meet your social and economic needs.”
Through this program’s locally led development approach, USAID will facilitate the creation of a collaborative action network of local actors, promote multi-stakeholder dialogue, generate cross-sectoral partnerships, and discover sustainable collaborative solutions to the most pressing challenges identified by Zimbabwean youth. USAID will support young Zimbabweans, along with other local actors – communities, youth networks, organizations, private sector, and others – to set their own development agenda, develop solutions, and ultimately, make those solutions a reality.
USAID will facilitate the design of the Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Program, and also support the establishment of a Youth Advisory Board, which will oversee the design and implementation of this initiative. This will ensure that youth lead the program and their voice is part of the design, implementation, and monitoring of activities.
USAID also intends to engage the private sector, including identifying opportunities for co-design and co-financing of activities, all while promoting innovation and increased economic opportunities for the youth.
Youth, particularly young women, remain more likely to be unemployed than any other group in Zimbabwe. A recent study by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust found that 93 percent of young people are not formally employed. In addition, young people have been disproportionately impacted by the economic, educational, and social consequences of COVID-19.
Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the American people, through USAID, have contributed over $3.2 billion in assistance to Zimbabwe. Current projects include initiatives to increase food security, support economic resilience, improve health systems and services, and promote democratic governance.