DORIS KASOTE, Lusaka
UNITED Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) regional director Dr Julitta Onabanjo says youths are Africaâ€™s greatest asset, however, the majority of youths do not have stable economic opportunities.
Speaking in an interview recently, Dr Onabanjo said Africaâ€™s population is 1.2 billion and is projected to more than double by 2050.
â€œIf properly harnessed, this growing working age population could drive Africaâ€™s economic transformation,â€ she said.
Dr Onabanjo said only three million formal jobs are created annually despite the 10 to 12 million youth that enter the workforce each year.
â€œOf the 420 million youth aged 15 – 35 in Africa today, the majority are unemployed, discouraged, or only vulnerably employed,â€ she said.
Dr Onabanjo said the costs of unemployment opportunities are severe with long periods of unemployment or vulnerable employment permanently lower future productive potential and earnings, â€œindividuals with limited incomes have restricted access to health and educationâ€.
She said jobs for youths in Africa involve collaboration between the African Development Bank and key partners in the public and private sectors across Africa.
Dr Onabanjo said avenues that could see employment created for the youth is through integration, investment and innovation.
â€œIntegration activities should incorporate a youth employment focus into both the Bankâ€™s systems and its engagement with regional member states,â€ she said.
On how climate change affect the health and development of women and young people, Dr Onabanjo said women make up the majority of the worldâ€™s poor and are more dependent than men on natural resources for their livelihoods and survival.
â€œWhen drought or unseasonable rain, for example, threatens agricultural production, men can use their savings and economic independence to invest in alternative income sources or otherwise adapt, while women will even put their health as secondary in an effort to meet the demands of the family,â€ she said.
Dr Onabanjo said as innovators, organisers, leaders, educators and caregivers, women are uniquely positioned to help curb the harmful consequences of a changing climate. Incorporating a gender perspective into climate change policies, projects and funds is crucial in ensuring that women contribute to and benefit from equitable climate solutions.
DORIS KASOTE, Lusaka