Ezingo project: joint support for the participation of young people in reconciliation efforts and promoting peace in the Central African Republic

Funded by theUnited Nations Development Programme Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the Ezingo project represents a collective response by FAO together with other UN agencies -United Nations Population Fundand theUnited Nations Children's Fund- to support the recovery of and empowerment of young people in theCentral African Republic. Indeed, the name of the project comes from a slogan in Sango a messeka e zingordquo;, which roughly means, young people waking uprdquo;. In a country where half of the population is between 10 and 35 years old (2.4 million in 2017), addressing young people's challenges and vulnerabilities is essential, as they can play a key role inconflictresolution and enhancingsocial cohesion.

The project focuses on (i) organizing young people into groups, and strengthening their capacities to play a more important role inpeacebuildingand reconciliation efforts; and (ii) improving their socio-economic situation through the promotion of micro-enterprises. More specifically, the project is supporting 3 000 young people through the following main activities: creating or rehabilitating youth centres; promoting and strengthening youth groups through the caisses de reacute;silience approach; and implementing labour-intensive work activities, combined with savings and loan schemes to initiate income-generating activities.

Emanuel Y., 29, is one of the 130 young people who benefited from the project in Bangui. He has received training onvegetable productionmanagement and on raising broilers. I am a member of the national network of young Central African entrepreneurs, an association made up of young people who are committed to empowering youth throughagriculture. We were able to obtain two plots of land, one in Damara and the other in Kassai, but despite our motivation, we faced several difficulties, including the lack of technical skills and production inputs. As soon as we heard about FAO's Ezingo project, together with five other members of the association we seized the opportunity and were selected to benefit from project activitiesrdquo;, he explains.

After receiving training, beneficiaries were provided withanimals(goats, pigs and chicks) and different types of kits, including for vegetable and livestock production, to participate inDimitra Clubsand to engage in village savings and loan associations, to set up income-generating activities. Thetrainingreceived allowed us to improve our production techniques. Thanks to the vegetable kits, we were able to harvest amaranth, cabbage, carrots, chives, salad and tomatoes within three months, which we were able to sell at the market generating about XAF 70 000. This allowed me to purchase additional material to expand our work as other young people wanted to join our association, which will enable us to ensure a stable income over the long termrdquo;, he says.

Of the seven beneficiary youth associations set up in Bangui, six received 3 000 chicks for raising broilers, which allowed Emanuel's associations to sell some of the 428 that matured after 45 days of rearing, generating about XAF 1 225 000. Emmanuel also received training on the junior farmer field and life school approach and will use the skills learned to train a six-memberwomen's association on vegetable production activities to maximize their yields. Through these small actions, I am contributing to my personal growth as well as to the development of my community,rdquo; he concludes.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)