Investing in youth for stronger communities, why more efforts are needed to engage youth in development process

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Young people today are essential in the development process of any nation. Investing in young people is crucial in building stronger communities and important in the process of nation building. Many national and international agencies and non-profits are focusing on the role of the youth and their contributions in the development process as necessary pre-requisites to tackling today’s development challenges

As a beneficiary of an International professional development program for young and emerging leaders, which is a US based program portion for young professionals with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), I have met an interacted with young leaders across the world and most of these young people are significantly and passionately making great contributions  in their home countries to improve  and address issues of for instance agriculture, combat corruption and ensure transparency and accountability, improve on women and youth socio-economic status and address issues of conflicts and conflict resolutions in their countries and communities

The general agreement though still stands that more youth should be involved at all stages of national development!

As widely understood, the youth is the future of tomorrow. The current adults will not be here forever, and will eventually die out. Youth become the adults of tomorrow. It is only natural that we should train them to be good adults, so that when they are adults, they help contribute to society as oppose to be a drain on society.

Realistically, all youth are both contributors and drains on society, but to different effects and magnitude. Influencing youth determines where power will be in the future. Youth play a large part in the masses. However, we have also witnessed more youth not able and willing to participate in key issues that affects them. We need to have more youth able to take charge of their own destiny, influence and participate in decision making processes at all levels. Also, we need strong Government efforts in solving problems of youths such as unemployment and encourage youth not to give up and get involved in non-productive ventures

More importantly, youths working in small groups must act as role models to help other youth engage in development. They must advocate for youths to be integrated into all local and national development programmes and frameworks and for the state, the private sector and donor communities to help provide finances for their programmes. At community level, youth must be allowed to define their own development goals and objectives, be given a social and physical space to participate in development and to be regularly consulted. Youths should also ensure adult mentorship and peer-to-peer mentorship are encouraged

Young people through advocacy mechanisms can influence the development process by campaigning for political tolerance and acceptability of divergent opinions, liberal democratic culture where the rule of law is the guiding principle for political authorities, free exchange of knowledge and ideas across the urban development spectrum, political will to address youth concerns, strong legal and policy frameworks on youths at national levels with strong oversight institutions to ensure compliance, public and private sector partnerships that ensure local and international investment in education and business and for a global recognition that our collective future rests with the world’s youth

The 2010-2011 Community Solutions Program for Young Leaders

2010-2011 Young Leaders in the United States working in US Host organizations.Program of International Research & Exchanges Board