In response to the country’s transitional needs: UNDP is supporting the Government of Yemen with youth economic empowerment

20 Jan 2013

imageBringing innovation to youth employment generation

UNDP, GoY and Government of Japan launch the 3x6 approach in Yemen for Inclusiveness, Ownership and Sustainability

The Yemeni economy is caught in a jobless slow growth cycle leading to stagnation in per capita incomes and rising levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth. An estimated 50% of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed and the country’s economic capacity is incapable to cope with the increasing youth bulge rate.

The initial 2011 protests were led by young Yemenis giving voice to their demands for better livelihoods. While many people took to the streets in the hope for jobs, the short-term impact of the transition has led to even higher unemployment: the crisis has caused economic activity to contract by almost 11%. Production processes were disrupted, leading to the closing of businesses and dismissal of workers.

The uprisings during 2011 had a huge macroeconomic impact: -10.5 % reduction in government spending, and a 12% productivity decrease across all sectors. Sources in the private sector estimated their losses from December 2010 to August 2011 as ranging from US$8-17 billion (Joint Social and Economic Assessment, 2012). People's satisfaction with their living standards fell continuously after 2009, with a majority of the population expecting a worsening of their situation, according to Gallup survey data.

Reigniting economic growth, generating employment, providing tangible improvements in livelihoods are prerequisites for a successful transition in Yemen and will contribute directly to conflict prevention. The Government of Yemen, through its Youth Economic Empowerment Project (YEPP) implemented with support from UNDP and the Government of Japan, aims at reducing the risk of conflict by meeting the demand for gainful employment; a demand strongly voiced by the youth during the uprisings.

The Government of Yemen together with UNDP's Youth Economic Empowerment Project is introducing a new approach called “3X6”, a response to the war grievances successfully implemented in Burundi, as aimed at economically integrating conflict-affected groups.

In Yemen the approach has been tailored to contribute to conflict prevention by addressing demands by youth for immediate and sustainable employment through implementation of three main components: In Yemen the approach has been tailored to contribute to conflict prevention by addressing demands by youth for immediate and sustainable employment through implementation of three main components: inclusiveness, ownership and sustainability.

Phase 1 Inclusiveness - income generation and building of capital by youth through rapid employment activities. During this first phase (2-6 month), participants receive business development training twice a week in complement to their income-generating activity (e.g. public works). Half - two thirds of the income will be saved and deposited into saving accounts at micro-finance institutions with whom YEEP is partnering.

Phase 2 Ownership – begins during the period of temporary employment, individuals are encouraged to initiate a business plan, or to form a group with others in joint ventures for the implementation of a sustainable economic activity.

Phase 3 Sustainability - the individual's/group's saved capital is tripled through a grant. A feasibility study will confirm that any proposed project ideas are economically viable and access to a local market is ensured. UNDP thus provides micro-SME's with investment support and facilitates market expansion.

The approach was launched on Dec 30th 2012 in presence of the Minister of MOPIC, the Minister of Youth, the Japanese Ambassador and more than 70 youth beneficiaries.

Furthermore, a recent participatory market needs and training assessment carried out by the project identified sectors (such as poultry, greenhouse technology in vegetable farming, construction) where potential job opportunities can be generated for youth in Sana’a, Taiz and Aden governorates.

UNDP is working closely with the private sector as they are a significant partner to establish an enabling environment for youth employment generation. A consultation meeting with private sector representatives was held this month at the Chamber of Commerce as well as with the Yemeni Businessmen club, and a job placement program in cooperation with the private sector is in preparation. Micro-finance institutions, Al-Amal Bank and AlKuraimi Bank, are an important partner to improve access to finance and the culture of saving in Yemen.

Creating employment opportunities for youth is not only a matter of economic growth, it is also a question of stability. Yemen's large youth population needs to see the peace dividend of the political transition process. The political solutions cannot be addressed in isolation from sustainable development and economical recovery. Yemenis need to see an impact over their livelihoods to restore their faith in the political reforms. Job creation is hence critical for the success of the current transition, and for long term development.

Indeed, providing Yemeni people with employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods will not only provide a way to address the country’s grievances but also pave the way towards the ultimate goal of the Yemeni youth—to build a new Yemen.