South Korea pledges $2 million to support UNDP’s Youth Empowerment Initiative in Darfur

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the Sudanese Ministry of International Cooperation and Ministry of Youth and Sports have concluded an agreement on supporting Youth Volunteers programme in Darfur.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the Sudanese Ministry of International Cooperation and Ministry of Youth and Sports have concluded an agreement on supporting Youth Volunteers programme in Darfur.

According to a joint statement by the UNDP and the Embassy of South Korea yesterday, The government of South Korea is contributing $2 million in support of UNDP youth empowerment activities in Darfur over the next two years (2018-2019). This will enable continuity and expansion of the Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery project (YOVORED) across the five States in Darfur.

The South Korean Ambassador to Sudan, Lee Ki-Seog affirmed his government’s longstanding commitment to nurturing youth initiatives in Sudan by saying “I wish to reiterate the Korean government’s commitment to continue working with the government of Sudan and the international community to improve the livelihoods of the people of Sudan. We will spare no efforts to supporting this successful YOVORED project.”

Engaging with youth

UNDP Country Director Dr Selva Ramachandran further stated “We highly value the Republic of Korea’s contribution to help the youth of Sudan. It is very important for us to work with and engage with youth in a productive direction and this project provides an excellent platform for the youth to equip themselves with the technical skills needed and pass it on to communities.” UNDP Country Director further thanked the Republic of Korea for their continuous support since the inception of the project. He stressed that whilst the youth of Darfur have suffered from the impact of conflict, lessons from the project indicate their potentials to act as ambassadors of peace and development is enormous. He therefore asked for more concerted efforts to support the Youth in the region to harness and channel their energies into positive use for the benefit of the region.

According to the joint statement, youths constitute about 62% of Darfur population and youth unemployment across the region is estimated to be ranging between 31 to 40%, much higher than the national average of 22%, quadruple of the Global average of 13.6%.

Socio-economic challenges

YOVORED was initiated in 2012 in response to the critical socio-economic challenges faced by Darfuri youth and to help them overcome the effects of conflict, on their future wellbeing; through strengthening their skills and competencies and empowering them to accelerate peace and development in their own communities whilst enhancing their own opportunities for employment.

This project, now in its 4th Phase has been implemented in all the five Darfur states in collaboration with the Government of Sudan (through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Social Affairs), Peace Centers in Darfur, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

Minister of International Cooperation

Sudan’s Minister of International Cooperation, Ambassador Idriss Suliman, underscored the significance of reaching this agreement: “Our relationship with the government of Korea is of high importance and we hope that this cooperation will be extended to cover a number of aspects in particular the field of youth empowerment in the industrial and agricultural sectors which are much needed sectors in Sudan.”

Minister of Youth and Sport

Minister of Youth and Sport Abdel Kareem Musa commended “The longstanding relationship between The Republic of Korea and Sudan” and expressed hope of continuing this successful partnership. He further commended UNDP on its efforts in empowering youth “UNDP is one of the international bodies with outstanding efforts in promoting South-South cooperation having direct impact on youth all across Sudan. We in the Ministry of Youth and Sport look forward to continuing our work with them.”

The project operates with a three-step approach; first, the project enhances the capacity of State actors to coordinate Youth activities through Youth Volunteers Coordination Units, Secondly, youth volunteers are recruited and trained in micro-enterprise development, conflict, environmental and natural resource management and other relevant competency areas. In the third step, the volunteers are deployed to live with their own communities for nine months as peace and development agents, sharing their skills and knowledge with community members, helping them start micro-businesses, initiate community projects and supporting peace processes. In the entire process, youth are being mentored to access employment in the formal and informal sectors.

Since its inception in 2012, the project has trained and deployed 379 youth volunteers (41% female) who have supported the empowerment of 33,848 vulnerable community members (49% female) by improving their knowledge and skills through training in business and environmental management as well as providing small grants for the establishment of small businesses for livelihood recovery. By February 2018, about 377 microenterprises will have been established and expanded in an environmentally sustainable way through the small grant challenge. In Phase IV, the project aims to train and deploy a cohort of 200 additional youth volunteers and to support 10,000 community members in 50 communities in the five Darfur states.

The Republic of Korea has been a significant donor to the recovery and development of Darfur through this project, having already financially supported the Phase I and II of the project.

UNDP and The Republic of Korea have been longstanding partners across the world and will continue working in close collaboration towards accelerating the peace and development in Darfur and Sudan as a whole, the statement concludes.