The United Nations Youth Fund has contributed over US$ 500,000 to more than 50 projects directly benefitting youth around the world since its establishment in 1981. The Fund provides grants of seed money in support of innovative youth-related action by Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
More than two-thirds of the resources disbursed to date have come from earmarked contributions by Governments and NGOs. During the past two years, the Africa region received 35 per cent of the resources distributed by the Fund, followed by Asia and the Pacific with 34 per cent, and Latin America and the Caribbean with 28 per cent.
In accordance with General Assembly guidelines, the Fund supports activities to strengthen policy-making and programme planning capacities for youth and to encourage research, training, data collection, and evaluation of technical information on youth issues. Fund resources are also used for youth-related technical cooperation activities requested by Governments, especially least-developed countries, and for activities and projects to further the implementation of the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
Adopted by the General Assembly in 1995, the Programme of Action recommends that the Fund support activities that encourage the participation of Youth in devising and carrying out projects whose short time frames often make it difficult to obtain needed support from conventional budgeting processes. The Action Programme further invites Governments, NGOs and the private sector to support the Fund's activities on a predictable and sustained basis. The Programme also suggests the creation of an advisory body to review the application of the Fund's terms of reference in order to strengthen its capacities.
Projects Supported by the UN Youth Fund
Following are brief descriptions of some recent projects supported by the Fund.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
One example of an innovative and successful project supported by the Fund was the International Workshop on Medicine, War and Peace Bosnia's Experience, which took place from 22 to 26 September 1997 in Sarajevo. Intended to address problems associated with the civil war, the project was implemented by the Bosnian and Herzogovinian Medical Students'Association (BOHEMSA) in cooperation with the University of Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine and International Federation of Medical Students'Associations.
By discussing issues regarding refugees, children and war, anti-personnel landmines and mental health, 50 future doctors participating in the workshop obtained valuable knowledge and skills for dealing with both the medical and non-medical effects of war on people. Other workshop topics included war medicine, human rights and international humanitarian law and the establishment of partnerships with international agencies such as United Nations organizations and NGOs. Presentations on these and related subjects were made by representatives of NGOs such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN system organizations such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The briefing on UNICEF's psychosocial programme for children affected by war provides a particularly good example of the kind of information conveyed to the medical students at the workshop. In his presentation to the future doctors, Mr. Rune Stuvland of UNICEF called attention to the changing nature of war, from battles between men in armies in previous times to today's direct targeting of civilians to inflict terror and achieve political goals. Wars, terrorist acts and widespread community violence have resulted in increased awareness of the immense suffering of thevictims, resulting in the need for psychological intervention programmes, he said.
The total project cost was US $20,566, of which the United Nations Youth Fund contributed US $7,783.
The Bugaya Youth Dairy Farm Project, managed by an NGO, Bugaya United Farmers in cooperation with Rwenzori Mountains Beghume Integrated Association of Uganda, is an on-going farming project for 600 rural youth and 3,000 villagers in the Kabarole district of Uganda. The goals of the project are to train rural youth in managing farm animals and selling farm products, to increase sales of farming products and to foster economic participation and empowerment of rural youth. Although farming is the only source of income in the Kabarole district, the 3,000 inhabitants have been suffering from poverty due to the lack of effective farming skills.
The total project cost was US $46,077 of which the Youth Fund contributed US $8,000.
The Youth Fund supported a year-long training programme to encourage youth participation in the formulation, planning, implementation and evaluation of conservation and poverty alleviation programmes throughout the country. With the objective of training 3,840 young people from 128 youth organizations, the project involved the convening of workshops and seminars on environmental conservation, poverty alleviation, food, nutrition, sanitation, an anti-diarrheal campaign, tree planting and population education. The project was implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in cooperation with several national youth organizations.
The project's total cost was US $17,923, with US $5,000 contributed by the UN Youth Fund.
To encourage youth to create their own enterprises, the Fund supported a technical cooperation project in Peru which provided training for young people in entrepreneurship and management in 1997 and 1998. The project consisted of three training courses for 500 young people from several cities in Peru. Through the Fund, the United Nations Youth Unit and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)each granted US $11,000 for the series of training courses, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) added US $3,000 bringing the total to US $25,000. The implementing agency was the Colectivo Integral deDesarrollo (CID) in cooperation with the Peruvian Ministry of Industry, Labour and Education and the National Youth Service of Peru.
The objectives of the project were to: 1) develop fundamental concepts and appropriate tools of management to be used by young trainers; 2) provide information about programmes and policies for job creation for young people and their integration in social and economic life; 3) develop the subject of employment promotion through the creation of enterprises; 4) stimulate exchanges of experience between young people and experienced managers, and 5) intensify the development of a culture of management among young people.
Regional Partnerships for Youth Development
In 1998, the Government of the Netherlands provided US $60,000 to the Fund for a series of regional meetings to strengthen partnerships between key players in youth development around the world, including United Nations system organizations, NGOs and youth organizations. By bringing the different relevant organizations together, the project contributes to capacity-building and the development of ways to carry out concrete activities at the country level. It also places the concerns of youth on the regional development agenda. Regional meetings were held in Dakar,Senegal (Africa); Bangkok, Thailand (Asia and the Pacific) and Santiago,Chile (Latin America and the Caribbean). To round out the project, a regional study on youth and poverty is planned for youth in Western Asialater in 1998.
Fund Administration and Participation
According to the United Nations Youth Unit, the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, to be held in Lisbon from 8 to 12 August1998, expects to adopt the draft Lisbon Declaration on Youth. Among other things the draft Declaration urges Governments, NGOs and the private sector to make increased financial contributions to the United Nations Youth Fund and to set up an advisory body to the Fund to provide guidance on fundraising strategies and project formulation, implementation and evaluation.
Governments and youth-related organizations can submit requests for financial assistance from the Fund through the field office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in their country. Proposals should be related to national youth policies or programmes and be consistent with the terms of reference of the Fund described above.
To support the work of the Fund, individuals and organizations can organize meetings and use the mass media in their own country topublicize Fund activities. They can also encourage Government representatives, foundations and the private sector to contribute generously to the Fund. In addition, individuals and organizations can support or co-finance selected projects and activities of the Fund.
For further information or to make contributions, please contact:
United Nations Youth Fund
Division for Social Policy and Development
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
Fax: (212) 963-3062