Threats to Local Youth Strategy and further hindrances towards creating Sustainable Livelihoods for young people across St. Vincent & the Grenadines

 

According to a quote taken from the SVG National Development Plan which clearly articulates the “overarching vision of “re-engineering economic growth: improving the quality of life for all Vincentians” one has to be extremely concerned nationally with the loud silence being experienced now as it relates to achieving these three outcomes particularly,

  • Economic activity is increased as a result of a more equitable distribution of income and wealth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Jobs created.
  • Poverty reduced, consistent with MDGs.

20151128_122913-1.jpgStatistics from the 2010 population census conducted in SVG showed that over 54 % of out a population then of approximately 109,000 were young people under the age 30, Further data indicated some 38 % of that working population between 18-29 were unemployed which represented over 14, 000 youth. There is a serious threat at hand and we cannot continue to go on with the distractions that seem to have taken priority over the sustainability of our youth.

It was during a return flight from St. Johns Antigua after the conclusion of the C.P.D.C/CCWG 3/3 Advocacy Research Training Workshop which was funded by the Common Wealth Program that I started to reflect on what I was returning too, and allowed the content of a cross section of regional stakeholders to sink in and its then it became very obvious to address by means of public awareness the immediate need for us to #upourgame.

On the heels of the SDG’s agreement in September 2015, the Paris agreement on Climate Change in November of the said year and the general elections in SVG which then followed in December; then as we transitioned to 2016, the remaining stalemate in the governance democratic system presently being used in SVG, it is clear this message is a timely one to remind our leaders both in Government and the Opposition and to also indicate to our citizens especially Youth,  first to be reminded of the many manifesto promises for youth and sustainable development, and secondly this is a time where it is imperative that all hands be on deck and we be all good stewards and stakeholders of nation building across SVG.

For disclosure in this article, and to remove any thoughts of prejudice; by definition according to the businessdirectory.com; What is Governance? “Establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of a governing body of an organization. It includes mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with associated responsibility) and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and viability of the organization”. However in this case our island St Vincent & the Grenadines.

Additionally, we ought to be made fully aware that as exist in SVG the West Minister Government System and modeled after the UK is a democratic system of Government, hence the Opposition is very much accountable as the ruling party as they are chosen by popular vote, to command the support of the majority of Parliament.

As a Social Enterprise, we are not at all impressed with the present impasse taking place in our governance system and this creates an even more serious threat to the local youth strategy which places our young people in further peril and at odds when it comes to gaining decent work and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Some of the 20 strategic interventions for youth towards 202 is to

  • “build entrepreneurial capacity of youth”
  • Promote youth training and development as a vital component of the development process
  • Provide technical and financial support to youth organisations, social and sports clubs
  • Working with the churches and civil society generally, including youth organisations, to build a sense of purpose, and optimism and hope for the future in young people.”

IMG_2292While these goals and outcomes sounds pleasurable to the ears the question is can they be measured against the backdrop of so many young people not employed, not granted financial support for other areas of development other than mere education which is not a standalone development agenda.

We keep hearing and reading the rhetoric but if you take a talk with young people in SVG you would get a sense that they are being made into a pappy show.

One young person wrote; “The problems young people face are as a result of the challenges faced in the national economy and the failures on the part of the family, government and society to provide appropriate and adequate support for young people to grow into responsible and productive adults, thus the Vincentian youth are at risk”. Anonymous

Again we had the opportunity to hear from a Caricom Director in Antigua and it was evident it’s not smooth sailing to implement any sustainable development initiatives across the region which in 2016 is truly not progressive.

Our leaders seem to have “power struggles” as their greatest priority and are more leaned to keeping their parties in power than to be creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for all citizens by whole heartedly taking on their mission of being “facilitators” but rather they seem bent on control of everything within an economy a rather bad micromanagement practice, which only yields benefits for their cliques and party supporters.

We have to move way past this menace and create green economies which takes into consideration equitable benefits for all citizens socially, economically and environmentally. These days though many of their published documents (manifestos) and policy documents always speaks about multilateral partnerships one gets the distinct impression this now is more a good marketing campaign designed by a communications specialist “electioneering” than realistic goals set by leaders thinking of local and regional development.

IMG_2179As we reminded the Caricom Director in Antigua we hear all the pretty talk about they going to be doing this and that and want to partner with Civil Society Organisations but when one seeks to engage them it’s a whole other ball game. It’s more like just tell us what you are planning to do step out the way let us do the implementation, fool the public as if we the governments alone are doing it; which is ludicrous because it takes a community to help itself not system on its own.

We are particularly concerned in SVG with this stalemate and how it has seemingly brought silence on many issues affecting youth and for the entire start of this year the debate and concern seem to have been who is a legitimate government or not while both sides have sworn in and both are on the receiving end of economic benefits while many of our young people are left desolate and with no new created opportunities as is mentioned in the manifestos and promises.

I recall back in 2010 Caricom itself said youth is a priority issue and every day I seriously have to ask myself what’s the definition of priority these days.

We the citizens must wake up and smell the coffee and stop accepting this mediocrity from our leaders and never be afraid to hold them accountable for they pre-election promises, we must adopt the American style of vigorous accountability in our leaders and then we would begin to see changes and true sustainable development for all.

We must no longer accept we have Ministers and decision makers over ministries that are nationally responsible for our development and treat other citizens especially those from Civil Society as if they are the enemy rather than collective nation builders, it is very non-productive to have people in key decision making positions that do not see it as a priority to courteously respond to their citizens as if the citizens are a nuisance to them expect when its campaign season and we fall for this way too often.

We cannot accept at this time and era of ICT which by the way is a bold goal to be achieved that we have persons entrusted with our sustainable development that do not as much as even acknowledge or reply to very important correspondence sent to them even after repeated request to meet with them they bluntly turn they backs to the needs of the citizens, especially our young people.

PIC_0343We cannot accept that our community and resource centres seems to be more attractive to being left idle like all white elephants to rot at the expense of our citizens and not being given the opportunity to be used by social entrepreneurs and other civil society organisations for two main reasons, one being we “seemingly” create a threat to governance and two the other side is bent on making the government look bad and fail so they withhold the community resources at the detriment of our young citizens especially.

Too many of our Public Officers carry too much personal grudges with social entrepreneurs\enterprises and civil society practitioner and this petty unproductive behavior seems to be creeping through key departments from our experience here in SVG since 2009. This behavior must stop and there needs to be some immediate sustainable developmental training of staff to bring them into light of the collective efforts needed to achieve the SGD’s, especially goal # 17.

Our young people need resources and not this continuous “seem to be doing something syndrome” that has taken over our governance system that is for one very manipulative and obviously set to brain wash those citizens who place the vote to give them the political and governmental savvy they seem to think they got on their own after a win.

SVG have talented youth but they lack the needed resources to implement their ideas and start more innovative and sustainable businesses, capable of gaining extra regional markets with their local products.

There must be tangible and financial investments (micro finance) without excuses, made without prejudice towards sustainable development and creation of jobs, businesses and an income for our young people under 30 years of age.  This has been ignored for too long and we are saying with same vigor and tenacity as we would to get a new road and new airport apply same to economic development not only for those with power but to create general income earning opportunities.

Multilateral partnerships must be created and the present impasse of petty political behavior must be minimized so we can get on with nation building initiatives, we must refocus and all work towards the goal of economic empowerment for our citizens, especially youth.

IMG_2139C.S.Inc has designed its new economic, social and environmental program “SVG Innovative Entrepreneurial Challenge 2016-2019” the aim of this activity is to develop employable, entrepreneurial citizens across SVG.

We have several project activities in planning that require a group of developmental multilateral partners to help our young citizens between the age of 18-29. Generally C.S. Inc remains committed by continuing to promote and foster the entrepreneurial mind-set among citizens in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as a means of inspiring creativity, innovation, building independence, creating jobs for unemployed citizens and generating wealth. We can be reached by contacting our project office via email: info@consolinc.org.

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