UNDP launches first Somalia Human Development Report in 10 years
Posted: Monday, 8 October 2012, New York | Author: United Nations Development Programme
Last week, UNDP launched the Somalia Human Development Report 2012: Empowering Youth for Peace and Development - at a side event during the UN General Assembly, two days after the Somalia mini-Summit, where the country’s newly elected president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, joined the UN Secretary General and key Somali policymakers via video conference from Mogadishu to discuss a vision for Somalia’s future that focuses on peace-building and economic recovery.
The new UNDP report – the first of its kind on Somalia in more than ten years- reveals that although the majority of Somali youth believe they have a right to be educated (82%) and a right to decent work (71%), they feel disempowered by multiple structural barriers built into the family, institutions, local government and society at–large. This lack of viable education and employment opportunities – in addition to clan and cultural prejudices – has created a high level of frustration and discontentment among young people. Radical shifts in policies and attitudes are needed in order to empower and place them at the core of the development agenda.
“As witnessed in the Arab region and elsewhere, young people can serve as potent drivers of political, social and economic transformation,” said keynote speaker Sima Bahous, UNDP’s Regional Director of the Regional Bureau for the Arab States. “We can no longer afford to overlook the potential gains from placing youth at the center of Somalia’s development,” she said, adding that over 70 percent of Somalia’s population is under the age of thirty.
The report contains a Youth Charter, developed by youth representatives from Somaliland, Puntland and south central Somalia, with inputs from a wider group within Somalia and in the diaspora. The charter underlines the aspirations, perceptions and needs of young Somalis - such as free and compulsory basic education and greater representation of youth in parliament - while serving as a guiding set of principles that the government, development agencies and civil society should abide by in order to engage youth and ensure the inclusion of their needs in the design of development policies.
“What young Somalis really want is a different future for themselves, one in which they can make a decent living in peace, and weigh in on the decisions that affect their lives,” said Mark Bowden, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Somalia.
The report recommends putting the empowerment of excluded groups – such as youth and women - at the centre of Somalia’s national development agenda, and calls for a broadening of the current clan-based electoral system to include marginalized groups. Job creation and improved educational opportunities for all social groups, including those that have already missed out on such opportunities, will also help pave the way towards a more stable nation. There is also a need for a platform for young Somalis to express themselves freely at all levels, while strengthening the capacity of local authorities to support youth programmes.