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ECOWAS Discusses Humanitarian, Youth Policies

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High Table
High Table

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs held a press conference at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja on 19 April 2024. Professor Fatou SOW SARR took the opportunity to talk about ECOWAS policies relating to humanitarian issues and youth. She heads a department that steers ECOWAS policy in the areas of science, education and culture, humanitarian affairs, equality and gender, youth and sport.

Cross Session Journalists
Cross Session Journalists

Each of the components works for the development of the Community through regional policies that take into account sectors such as gender, education, youth and humanitarian aid. With the many challenges facing the region, humanitarian issues remain a priority for the Commission. In the event of natural disasters or security-related challenges, this department intervenes to provide support to Member States and affected populations.

The ECOWAS Commission, through its Directorate of Humanitarian Affairs, provides financial resources to manage issues relating to floods and the migration crisis. Specifically, ECOWAS provided financial assistance to Guinea during the fire at the oil depot and the floods. In 2024, more than $9 million was made available for internally displaced persons, refugees and host communities.

Ecowas Staff
Ecowas Staff

As part of its policy to stabilise the region and fight terrorism, ECOWAS has provided financial support to Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso for the rehabilitation and strengthening of community resilience. To further its peace-building efforts, ECOWAS has set up an Observation, Monitoring and Early Warning Centre based in Abuja, which works to prevent violent extremism in the region. This centre helps to ensure that humanitarian issues are properly addressed in the ECOWAS region.

Mr Joel Ahofodji Ppo Communication
Mr Joel Ahofodji Ppo Communication

As far as youth is concerned, the ECOWAS Youth and Sport Development Centre implements the Commission’s policy in areas related to youth, sport and volunteering. Since 2014, 217 volunteers have been sent to Member States including Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This Directorate works to promote the spirit of volunteering in the region and the commitment of the youth to serve the communities.

Beyond its recreational aspects, sport is an original mechanism for promoting regional integration. Aside wrestling, marathon and cycling, the EYSDC provides annual support to sports federations, with loans of 100,000 dollars per federation.

In terms of the socio-economic integration of young people, incubation and vocational training programmes are being implemented by the Commission. Examples include training in refrigeration and mechanical air conditioning and building electrician in Burkina Faso and Mali. As part of the partnership with China, 12 projects by young people in the region have been selected and funded for 2023.

The Education Directorate is actively involved in the academic mobility and professional integration programme for young people within ECOWAS institutions to provide more learning and skills expression platforms for young people in the region. Since 2016, 845 young people have benefited from this policy. Between 2021 and 2022, the programme to integrate young people into private-sector industries has benefited 180 young people.

Professor Sow Sarr
Professor Sow Sarr

Since 2019, 42 young people have been sent to Spain for Master’s Degrees in diplomacy and international relations. Between 2018 and 2024, the research and innovation support programme ensured the training of 30 young people in Masters and PHD programmes, with funding of nearly US$700,000.

ECOWAS is also active in the field of culture. Prizes are awarded to artists at film and art festivals. Examples include FESPACO in Burkina Faso and MASA in Côte d’Ivoire.

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