By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA—Worried by the marginalization of young people in governance structures, Connected Development (CODE) in partnership with YouthHub Africa with support from Christain Aid has launched a nationwide Youth Challenge Fund that will provide Grant to young people to deliver innovative solutions to identified challenges within their communities.
Through funding from Christian Aid, CODE will sub-grant the six selected organisations with a total of Thirty thousand pounds (30,000) for their innovation to solve some of the difficult challenges limiting young people.
The Sight News gathered that while many projects of this nature seek to work with young people in the urban areas, this project will work with youths who are typically marginalised, excluded and who otherwise would have limited access to participation.
Briefing newsmen on Friday in Abuja, the Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, noted that the project seeks to increase youth participation in community development and ensure youth become partners and leaders in development — where they are charged with creating a sustainable change that is measurable in their community.
He stated that Christian Aid was gracious to provide 30,000 pounds (N14.1million) to launch the first phase of the National Youth development fund, and CODE has trained the six beneficiaries on project management, community engagement and communication skills so as to achieve decent jobs.
Lawal who explained that the fund was given as a grant for the next six months to the beneficiaries, to undertake a pilot phase, expressed hope that when they succeed, CODE can report back to the Nigerian people.
He urged the Federal Government to fulfil its obligation to the youth by increasing youth participation on all policies that affect young people, and called for increased financing, education and technical support for Nigerian youth as this can greatly impact on the future of the country.
In his words, “When we talk about measuring how Nigeria is achieving the Sustainable Development Goal, we believe that young people must take the driver’s seat”, he said. “The government must understand the growing importance and potential of young people and consider their contribution to nation building”.
Speaking during the launch,Christian Aid Communications Officer Adebola, noted that the Christian Aid works in the areas of good governance, health and humanitarian response and recognizes youth involvement as a critical area for sustainable development.
Adebola stressed that Christian Aid hopes to scale up at the end of the grant when the outcome is seen, so as monitor how some of the innovative solutions can go beyond the communities and bring the desired change in Nigeria.
On the selection process, the Christian Aid Senior Programme Coordinator, Policy & Advocacy, Mr. Arokoyo Victor noted that the process was inclusive as People Living With Disability were also part of the selection.
For her part, CODE’s Project Lead, Lucy James, stated that young people have some of the most promising solutions to contemporary problems, and expressed hopes to learn from this, especially from those in the grassroots who have the capacity to act, utilizing their skills and ability to improve their own lives.
In his remarks, YouthHub Africa representative, Afeez Agboola, called on the government to support Nigerian Youths, adding that the NGOs cannot do it alone.
“We need the Government to support us, so that we can scale so many organizations that need support. Nigerian Youths are not lazy, they are ready to perform and work but need resources to do well. We are urging our successful organizations to make use of the fund judiciously”, he emphasized.
The Sub-grantee Organisations include; Foundation for Equitable and Sustainable Human Advancement (FESHA), a youth led disability inclusion organization; Justice Development and Peace Caritas [JDPC] Nnewi, a Faith Based Organization with Youth focus; Women and children in support of community development initiative (WOCCI-Nig); Hope For Family Development Initiative (HFDI); Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability; and Access to Learning and School (ATLAS) Initiative.