Youth Training Has Positive Effect on Communities
The demand is great for the learning opportunities this program has to offer to three communities on either side of the border between the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia on the Atlantic coast. So much so that all planned activities in the program’s first year (2021) were completed, despite the complex environmental and global forces that seemed to spell doom. Intense and prolonged rainfall did not dampen spirits, nor did currency devaluation, inflation, and price increases for food, farming inputs, building materials, transportation, and other essentials.
The goals for participation were initially 120 young women and men directly involved and 840 individuals positively affected in six villages – three per country. In reality, 165 youth took part in the activities and 1200 people benefited. The unexpected increase was possible because each community is supported by established local farming groups that were able to offer supplementary assistance in cash or kind.
Participants received training in land preparation, planting, crop maintenance, harvesting, home gardening, nutrition, grain storage construction and store management. In addition to the focus on agriculture, the men and women took part in gender awareness activities, emphasizing counselling, support for victims, and prevention of gender-based violence against women and girls.
The goal for 2022 is to continue to improve food security, through the development of locally controlled and resilient food systems, buttressed by the production and storage of local food staples by the youth. The secondary goal is to provide livelihood opportunities in farming. This becomes all the more important in light of the continued interruption of the food supply chain due to the war in Ukraine.
Improving storage of grains is having the effect of increasing the quantity of food available locally over an extended period of time.
Sierra Leone Liberia Youth Program
Led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Local Partner Agricultural Missions, West Africa Initiative of Liberia, Village to Village Federation (Sierra Leone)