The Gambia has a robust and fast growing youth population. In fact current statistics show that almost half of the country’s population is youths. Notwithstanding their numerical size, the situation of young youths under the current government is one of destitution and desperation.
The APRC government’s notion of youth development is one placed on short terms benefits where young people are offered nothing beyond festivals, intangible benefits that hardly add value to their life and seasonal jobs on the President’s numerous farms and cattle ranches.
Due to hopelessness, along the length and breadth of this great country of ours, entire communities have been depleted of their youths, leaving behind mostly the elderly and women to scrounge a living from an agricultural economy that has also collapsed because of government neglect and mismanagement.
This has exacerbated poverty, brought about food insecurity and undermined the overall economy with its attendant adverse effects on health and education.
Today, we are losing a whole generation of our young people to the desert and high seas as they give up on the proposition that they can live free and dignified lives in their homeland. The combination of a lack of opportunities to live even a modest subsistence life in the village and the excesses of a predatory government that has become their serial abuser, has made life for young people anywhere else preferable even at the risk of death.
The APRC government still continues to ignore a myriad of factors that could help tie the fortunes around in favor of young people’s empowerment.
A UDP led government will put in place policies and pragmatic strategies that would help young people their full potential and catapult them to the ladder of success and political participation by first improving the democratic space, provide and support skills development, eliminate favoritism, end negative stereotypes of youths, encourage mentorship, open up opportunities that job placement for young people, improve the alternatives for education and personal development.