Government and UNDP Empower Youths as Environmental Stewards
October 4, 2023
The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS), announces the launch of the Eco-brigade Livelihood and Employment Creation project in Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties.
It is an innovative and transformative project aimed at empowering young people as environmental stewards while providing them with income opportunities. This initiative seeks to equip the next generation with the necessary knowledge, skills, and passion to address pressing environmental challenges and foster sustainable practices.
Making remarks at the launching ceremony in Voinjama, Lofa County, Mr. Michael E. Taire, the Program Manager of the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), gave an overview of the project and encouraged the selected youths to remain ambassadors for the environment and apply themselves fully to implementing what they are trained to do.
The City Mayor of Voinjama city reassured the UNDP and implementing partners of their commitment to cleaning the city. She promised to ensure that the Wologizi Eco-brigade is second to none in the country.
The Eco Brigade project is being implemented by the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) with support from UNDP. To date, 120 youths aged 18-25 from Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties have been recruited and trained to serve as youth Eco-brigades.
This is in addition to the 180 Eco-brigades previously established in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, and Sinoe counties through the UNDP. Eco-brigades are vulnerable youth volunteers empowered to initiate livelihood and income-generating activities while protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources in a bid to ensure the country builds back its economy better through youth-driven green recovery initiatives, such as providing environmental sanitation services and eco-tourism.
Thirty-two (32) women and twenty-eight (28) men were recruited from 28 communities on July 31, 2023, to form part of what is known as the Wologizi Eco brigade in Voinjama, Lofa County. In attendance at the event were the Assistant Superintendent for Development in Lofa County, Hon. Samuel Mulbah; the City Mayor of Voinjama City, Hon. Korto Harris; the Chief Protocol Officer in the Superintendent’s office, Mr. Patrick K. Monjoe, and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Youth and Sports county office.
Similarly, thirty-seven (37) women and twenty-three (23) men from 39 communities were recruited to form part of what is known as the Zulu Eco-brigade on August 3, 2023, in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. The City Mayor of Zwedru City, Hon. Cecelia Harris Jolo, and a representative from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Desuah Youseoh, were present to witness the recruitment process.
Through an interactive workshop organized by SCNL, the selected 120 youth Eco-brigades were trained in environmental stewardship and small business start-up and management. The training fostered leadership skills and cultivated a sense of environmental entrepreneurship among the beneficiaries.
The Eco-brigades also engaged in practical exercises, such as clean-up campaigns, tree planting, and community outreach campaigns, enabling them to make a tangible impact on their surroundings. The Eco-brigades have completed a twenty-day compulsory field cleaning exercise in their respective cities using toolkit materials provided by the UNDP.
At the launch of the Eco Brigades in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County the Project Coordinator from SCNL, Sylvia Dorbor, urged the eco-brigades to embrace the spirit of volunteerism and continue to work in their communities. “SCNL intends to have a paradigm shift from projects to programs, and this initiative should be embraced as a program that will continuously grow over the years with the support of UNDP,” said Miss Dorbor.
Gaijouhn Gaybueh, Solar for Health officer at UNDP reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to empowering the young people of Liberia. “The success and effectiveness of this program will largely depend on the stewardship of the youth volunteers as well as the local authorities and partners involved”, said Mr. Gaybueh.
The Superintendents of Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties, as well as the City Mayors of both Voinjama and Zwedru Cities, welcomed the project and pledged their support and commitment to making it a success.
They expressed appreciation to UNDP for supporting the clean-up campaigns and empowering marginalized youths. After intensive training and a twenty-day compulsory field exercise, the two newly established eco-brigades were turned over to the city council in each city to continue their clean-up campaigns and environmental awareness.
Each member of the Eco brigade will receive a small business start-up package of USD $400 from as a source of sustainable livelihood income while working to safeguard the environment.