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TWO-DAY FORUM FOR NATIONAL VOLUNTEER AGENCIES IN WEST AFRICA

The third Annual Forum for National Volunteer Agencies in the ECOWAS Region has been held in Ghana from 22nd-23rd July, 2019, under the auspices of the National Youth Authority on the theme “Volunteerism for Peace and Security”.

Addressing participants who were drawn from all across West Africa, Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Isaac K. Asiamah (MP), commended the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme for choosing Ghana and adopting the theme, since peace and security continue to be a key consideration for all governments notably across the West African Sub-region.

“With the programme’s underpinning philosophy geared at creating a pool of youth, united in their conviction that peace and reconciliation remain vital tools for development and peaceful co-existence, especially in post-conflict countries, the volunteer programme, which also hinges on harnessing the talents and energies of young leaders of diverse professional backgrounds and commitments for socio-economic development, can only be applauded” Hon Asiamah noted.

In that regard, Hon. Asiamah reiterated his strong belief that Member States of ECOWAS have demonstrated their unflinching commitment through the volunteer programme, to the empowerment of the youth and the crucial role they have to play in realizing the cherished dream of becoming citizens of ECOWAS who are self-reliant and united in purpose, rather than seeing themselves as nationals segregated by artificial boundaries.

“With a predominantly youthful population, it is of utmost importance for us to empower National Volunteer Agencies to leverage on this demographic dividend to play significant roles in the promotion of peace and development in the sub-region” Hon. Asiamah further stated.

He recalled the Voluntary Youth Camps the NYA initiated in 2018 across the entire nation, where close to 400 youth were selected to contribute towards community based projects and said that initiative besides promoting patriotism, resulted in the construction of classroom blocks, public places of convenience, cleaning of beaches, replanting of mangroves and construction of Community-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) Compounds, and a District Court. This he said are a clear demonstration of the fact that the youth are tacking the pressing social challenges of today and the future.

Hon. Emmanuel Asigri, CEO of the Authority welcoming participants to the forum, on behalf of the NYA, said the gathering was great relevance and importance since it is a testament to Ghana’s commitment to the cause of volunteerism. He made reference to Ghana’s role in hosting the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps Training Programme in 2017 and the second edition of the ECOWAS Forum of National Volunteer Agencies in 2018 as clear evidence of his assertion that Ghana is committed to youth volunteerism.  

“I am excited and optimistic that the outcomes of this 3rd Forum as espoused in the theme shall contribute immensely to enriching a fit for purpose Terms of Reference for the functioning of a permanent secretariat of the forum so that key actions could be identified and planned for execution by member states: he stressed.

Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender and Chair, ECOWAS Volunteers Programme Regional Coordination Council, thanked Ghana for accepting to play host to the 3rd edition and said ECOWAS is on the move to accelerate its development through a deliberate and coordinated focus on Human Capital Development  in line with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and volunteering, which directly builds on the knowledge and skills competencies and attributes of its practitioners whilst providing tangible service outputs to its beneficiaries, is aptly envisaged to be a major contributor and vehicle in the achievement of that objective.

“Young men and women are key participants in the region’s quest for peace and security and in the context of the current security outlook of West Africa and global trends in migration and security challenges, they have become major stakeholders in all forms of foreseeable and concrete solutions to not only regional but also to global peace and security” she intimated.

Guinea-Bissau was elected to play host to the fourth edition under the theme “Volunteerism, a Prerequisite for Human Capital Development”.

Mr. Richard Obeng DCEO (F/A), Mr. Bright Acheampong DCEO (P/O) and some Directors as well as senior staff of the Authority were present at the forum.