PRETORIA – Saturday, 9th August, 2014 – FAMILY Health International 360 (FHI 360) has announced plans to work with the Zambian Government to tackle youth unemployment in the country.
The announcement was made by FHI 360 Chairman, Dr. Albert Siemens in Pretoria, South Africa on Thursday.
Dr. Siemens said his organisation realised that the Government could not resolve the issue of youth unemployment by itself and that FHI 360 was ready to make “meaningful contribution” through cooperating with the private sector and the civil society.
He said youth unemployment has become a “livelihood” issue affecting most countries around the world due to expanding populations partly been brought about as a result of increasing life expectancy following the discovery of effective HIV drugs in recent years. He said FHI 360 believed it could help by finding ways of creating opportunities in the private sector for skilled youths.
“We believe we need to help so that the government does not carry the burden alone. We are thinking of many ways of how we can develop those opportunities in addition to our traditional HIV/AIDS intervention programmes,” he said.
Dr Siemens was speaking when he led some FHI 360 board members in paying a courtesy call on Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde in Pretoria on Thursday. Other members of team included board member, Mr. Robert Price, and director of enterprise services for East and Southern Africa, Mr. Kellock Hazemba.
The FHI 360 board has split into smaller groups and gone on missions to visiting their projects in different countries before they re-group in Livingstone next week for a board meeting. The board travels out to countries where they have projects once every three years after which they select one of the countries as venue for their board meeting for that particular year.
FHI 360 regional director for East and Central Africa, Dr. Otto Chabikuli, said youth unemployment had become a huge regional problem which needed all stakeholders to start thinking of intervention measures.
Dr. Chabikuli said his organisation was already planning to create internships and entrepreneurship-type of training for the youths and devise ways of ensuring that all those undergoing such programs were absorbed in local economies.
He urged the Zambian Government to facilitate partnerships among Government, the private sector and non-governmental organisations in trying to resolve the problem.
“Is it possible for government to facilitate that kind of partnership between non-governmental organisations and the private sector entities that are maybe moving from South Africa to Zambia in order to allow us to absorb these youths after we have imparted skills to them, they need to be employed by somebody.”
Dr. Chabikuli said FHI 360 was also planning to create a non-governmental organisation “for the 21st Century” which will put development in a completely different light in the sense that government will be a partner.
“As one of the key challenges that all of us are facing is sustainability of programs, the answer can only be in government, the civil society and local communities taking ownership and running with these programs,” Dr. Chabikuli said.
And in responding to the issues raised by the team High Commissioner Chikonde pointed out that Government’s approach was to be innovative by allowing communities to drive the development agenda. He noted that even President Michael Sata has been emphatic in urging line Ministries to be innovative and avoid repeating procedures that may not have benefited the people in the past. He said Ministries were being called upon to critically analyse and institutionalise survival strategies for the people as a way of making them sustainable.
Mr. Chikonde said Government’s role was to facilitate entrepreneurship in the development of the private sector and that that was the reason huge amounts of resources have been directed to infrastructure development in order to contribute to creating a conducive environment for private sector participation.
“For example, without roads it is very difficult to effect development. That has been the entry point for government and that is why the President has embarked on huge infrastructure projects such as the Link Zambia 8000 to link all neighbouring countries, the Pave Zambia 2000 meant to mend urban township roads, construction of universities, hospitals, health posts, and schools among other projects.
“South Africa is the way it is today because of the growth of the private sector. And Zambia needs the growth of the private sector and this is why much of the resources for the first two years of the current government have been directed to creating that enabling environment,” Mr. Chikonde said.
He said a lot of money has gone into infrastructure development and that the idea was to make Zambia a hub for investment. He noted that all the other fundamentals such as macro-economic factors, security of investment and political stability were in place and that the country only lacked a few incentives to attract more private sector participation.
He urged the private sector to be innovative and identify opportunities, citing the creation of new districts in Zambia as openings which should be exploited.
The High Commissioner observed that the structure of the Zambian economy attracted private sector participation as it did not have controls on foreign exchange and that license issuance for the establishment of a company or NGO, was done under one institution and took not more than three days as long as the necessary documentation was in place.
Mr. Chikonde also briefed the delegation on the NGO Act which he said gave clear guidelines on the operations of organisations falling in this category.
“In addition to this we are also working on various legislation in sectors such as energy and mines. The whole idea is to make everything predictable because investors and business entities in general do not like unpredictability. With all this in place, we are expecting to see a lot more growth in the private sector within the next 10 years.
On FHI 360, Mr. Chikonde said the organisation was one of Zambia’s strongest partners as it had made tremendous contributions to the health sector in terms of improving health systems, infrastructure, equipment, and manpower.
Mr. Chikonde said he was familiar with programs such as the Zambia Prevention Care and Treatment (ZPCT) and TB Care which, driven through the Ministry of Health, had created a huge impact in various communities of all the 10 provinces of Zambia.
“With the advent of the HIV pandemic, our health facilities were not designed to accommodate this condition and ZPCT assisted in the refurbishment of clinics and hospitals to include prevention from mother to child transmission (PMTCT) and ART clinics.
He said there was, however, need to strengthen project planning cycles so that planning between government and program delivery become more effective.
FHI 360 has been active in the areas of health and development in Zambia, addressing such issues as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, nutrition, family planning research, orphans and vulnerable children, water and sanitation, livelihoods, and education. We have collaborated with a wide range of government partners, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community Development and Mother and Child Health, the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Community and Social Welfare, the Office of the President, as well as with numerous international and local nongovernmental organizations. FHI 360 currently operates in all 10 provinces across Zambia.
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