WASHINGTON, March 21, 2017— The World Bank today approved a $15 million grant to help the government provide access to income generating opportunities to targeted poor and vulnerable youth in Togo. These include young men and women aged 15 to 35 living in poor communities in all five regions of the country, who have not completed primary education or who may have physical disabilities.
In Togo, 35 percent of the workforce is estimated to be underemployed, compared to less than 3 percent unemployed. Underemployment in Togo touches mostly those targeted by the poorest and vulnerable youth who often perform ad hoc work to earn a survival livelihood at very low levels of productivity. The new Youth Employment Project will support the government’s national volunteer initiative in providing opportunities for vulnerable youth to gain work skills and experience, as well as to perform community services. By targeting youth with little or no education through the national volunteer initiative’s out-of-school youth program (“programme des jeunes déscolarisés – JDS”), the new operation will provide a platform for on-the-job training in technical skills, training for running a microenterprise, as well as financial coaching for launching and operating an income generating activity.
“Thanks to the JDS program, beneficiaries who have never held a structured work opportunity will have the chance to develop good work habits and gain civic values in participating in activities that are relevant for their communities,” said Pierre Laporte, the World Bank Country Director for Togo.
Community service is the entry point to the JDS program, which will provide beneficiaries with a stipend that will help them address their immediate needs and eventually launch an income-generating activity. It will also serve as a “commitment device” which will allow those who are most motivated and who prepare a satisfactory business plan to benefit from a cash grant to scale-up their economic activity.
“We are happy that provisions are made to ensure sustainability for the economic activity engaged by the beneficiaries. Thanks to the mentoring program, they will be able to address problems that may confront them as they establish or scale up their businesses, market themselves and identify better opportunities,” added Laporte.
Special efforts will be made to ensure a good geographical targeting of the program, as well as a robust system for targeting poor and extremely poor households with vulnerable youth and a well-functioning payment system.
The Youth Employment Project builds upon the experience in community development under the Education and Institutional Strengthening Project and on the Community Development and Safety Nets Project (PDCplus) –both supported by the World Bank-- to empower communities so they can largely contribute to the project implementation.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.