Boosting the socio-economic inclusion of street youths: UNDP Cameroon takes a bold step
06 March 2023
Today, I am ready to leave the street; all I need is an opportunity." Recounts Yaouba, a street youth/participant in the UNDP street youth engagement activities
"Hardship within my family forced me to join the street at the age of 11 years. However, the seeming happiness I found on the street became tougher and tougher as time went on. For over 20 years, violence and misery took over the order of my days. Today, I am ready to leave the street; all I need is an opportunity."Recounts Yaouba, a street youth and participant in the UNDP street youth engagement activities, during the celebration of the Cameroon National Youth Day 2023.
Like Yaouba, there are over seven thousand children and youths, including girls and young women, with similar stories who live in the streets of Yaounde and Douala, the chief cities of Cameroon. In the city of Yaounde, like in other cities in Cameroon, living in the street exposes vulnerable youths to numerous risks. These risks include banditry, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and sometimes death. These risks they face mostly result from insufficient access to basic services and needs.
UNDP Cameroon’s Contribution to Improving the Situation
During the celebration of the National Youth Day in February 2023, UNDP Cameroon’s YouthConnekt and Accelerator Lab teams implemented engaging activities with over 250 street youths in Yaounde. The activities aimed at improving their socioeconomic inclusion and empowering them to become active contributors in providing solutions to their problems.
The activities implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, and the Yaounde City Council included the mobilisation and sensitisation of the youths on moral and civic rearmament, the organisation of a friendly football match between the youths and UNDP staff, the animation of a special hangout between the street youths and the Minister of Youth Affairs, UNDP, and a psychologist on the National TV, and the distribution of first aid kits and socio-economic insertion kits to support their welfare and economic integration.
These actions have contributed to boosting the youths' interest in dreaming of a better future. "This initiative by UNDP comes at the right time. It has motivated and inspired the youths to aspire for a decent and better life through engagement in various socio-economic insertion activities. Based on this, we are now working with the UNDP to develop and implement an inclusive plan to respond to our problems." Testifies Yannick Ondoa, the leader and spokesperson of the Yaounde street youths.
"My participation in the different activities has greatly rebuilt my self-confidence and given me hope for a bright future," Yaouba adds, with a smile on his face.
Just like the vulnerable youths, the Director of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Transit Centre in Yaounde, Mr Charles Adalbert Atangana, appreciates the contribution of these activities to government endeavours. "In our ongoing fight against the phenomenon of street youths in the country, such initiatives by UNDP are critical because they act as a catalyst for the financial, physical, and psychological well-being of these youths, who are often subjected to a challenging lifestyle".
As an integrator, UNDP Cameroon will contribute to addressing the issue of street youth through the mobilisation of resources to provide a multidimensional response, contribute to furthering engagements with the youths, and develop a framework to ease the actions of all actors in addressing their problems.
"The impactful outcome of our engagements with these vulnerable youths has inspired us to set up a working mechanism with them, to further analyse their needs, and to develop a plan to improve their socio-economic insertion and development. This falls in line with UNDP Cameroon’s thematic area of transformative, inclusive, and sustainable growth, as well as the UN’s principle of leaving no one behind." Alassane BA, UNDP Cameroon's Acting Resident Representative.