COMESA countries have come together to deliberate on ways to cushion the youth in the region from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 in the region. Subsequently, a two-day experience-sharing meeting and mitigation was conducted on 28 -29 September 2021.
In attendance were young people, youth experts from governments led by Permanent Secretaries, and representatives of regional and international organizations dealing in youth empowerment programmes.
This meeting was called for by Ministers in charge of the youth when they met in June this this year – the first time ever. In their decisions, the Ministers noted that the youth had experienced the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. Limited youth access to education and opportunities in the job market were cited as some of the negative impacts.
The meeting was therefore aimed at addressing the specific impacts of COVID-19, on the youth and learn what has best in shielding the youth from further negative impacts.
Zambia PS for Youth Affairs Dr John Phiri opened the meeting and urged COMESA to convene such forums more regularly.
In his address, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA in Charge of Programmes Dr Kipyego Cheluget stressed the need for policy interventions on the youth.
“Such interventions uplift our youth and consequently, contribute to a reduction in unemployment, crime and drug abuse,” he said.
The experience-sharing intervention is part of the recently adopted COMESA Youth Engagement Policy, which provides for direct engagement with youth-led or focused networks and organizations that are increasingly organising themselves along national and regional formations. The aim is to aggregate youth perspectives into the national and regional policy, strategies and programmes.
Through this strategy, COMESA will support Member States to institute their own specific youth engagement strategies using it as a model to further integrate young people in democratic governance and socio-economic processes.