BY SHARON SIBINDI

The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) yesterday launched a US$5 million Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Programme to economically empower local youths.

The initiative will help create employment opportunities for youths as well as combat rising poverty levels among young people in urban and rural areas.

Addressing a stakeholders meeting in Bulawayo, USAid/Zimbabwe mission director Art Brown said: “We want you as young people to take the lead in defining and addressing the diverse challenges you face so that we support you to meet your social and economic needs.”

The US embassy said: “USAid will facilitate the design of the Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Programme, and also support the establishment of a youth advisory board, which will oversee the design and implementation of this initiative.

“This will ensure that the youths lead the programme and their voice is part of the design, implementation, and monitoring of activities.”

USAid also said it intended to engage the private sector, in identifying opportunities for co-design and co-financing of activities aimed at promoting innovation and increased economic opportunities for the youth.

“Youths, particularly young women, remain more likely to be unemployed than any other group in Zimbabwe. A recent study by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust found that 93% of young people are not formally employed.

“In addition, young people have been disproportionately impacted by the economic, educational, and social consequences of COVID-19.”

The United States, through USAid, has disbursed $3,2 billion in development aid to Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

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