By Betty Ceesay
The increasing youth population in The Gambia and across the world has brought with it enormous challenges which have affected young people within the past years, especially under President Adama Barrow’s first and second terms in office.
The Voice newspaper has gone round to sample the views of young people, especially, within the Kanifing Municipality. All the youths told this medium, that they are “physically fit but financially stressed” because all the promises to create jobs by the government in 2017 have failed.
The Africa youth survey 2022 of young people found that youth experiences in recent times pose a challenge to their productivity and contributions to development with many wanting to move abroad. The youth crisis is mostly seen in youth participation in education and the labour market.
Speaking Aisha Bah who is in her youthful age expressed her mind that “on the issues affecting youths in recent times in the Gambia, one could only look around and find that first among the views one would glare at is the difficulty youths face in their mobility on the economic ladder.
There is increasingly urban and rural poverty among young people, and the obstacles they face in their quest to secure decent work and decent livelihoods. Youth aspirations of completing school and getting a job are becoming difficult as the days go by. These concerns of youth unemployment pose a serious problem because the youths are future leaders and their ability to live good lives in the future as adults require the obtaining of decent work in the present.”
She continued that the increasing youth population in urban areas which is largely caused by the limited opportunities in rural areas has brought together challenges such as shrinking formal employment opportunities, urban poverty, and insecurity.
Today in The Gambia, many youths have therefore resorted to their own devices to secure their livelihood in the over-saturated labor market. Either they are actively pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors, or they are engaging in other minor things to be occupied. Others also can’t help but look on in hope that things would get better one day which is evident in narratives such as “optimism in pain.”
Allasan Drammeh, a student of the University of The Gambia, called on the government to diversify opportunities for the youths.
“The state of this country is challenging for the youths who want to have a comfortable future and help their families. It’s even harder on the males who face more pressure from their families. Because of the hardship I once wanted to use the backway to seek for greener pastures”, he said.
He added that some of his friends due to the difficulty of this country couldn’t resist redirecting to street life to make ends meet.
He pointed out that the teachings of society relate to doing the right things but if the right things are not giving you what you want, they easily resort to vandalism which is not healthy in the society.
“I am a responsible person and I want to fulfill my duties from all angles but the state of this country is dragging me behind,” Mr. Madi S.Jallow, a UTG student told this reporter.
He went further “I voted for this government but I am yet to be convinced of the president’s direction or decision toward Gambian youths. I earn too little for a monthly salary and the prices are going high, even common mangoes that are grown in this country are costing D50 for one.
He quickly called on the government and all the stakeholders to create opportunities for the youths in order to reduce the crime rates in this country.