Formal employment is out of reach for many young people in Liberia. Young men often earn money with motorcycle taxis.
Photo: J. Ziebula


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Young people are the future. And they need employment. For many African countries, creating these employment opportunities is a challenge, and in post-conflict states such as Liberia the hope for a sustainable peace adds an additional dimension to the task. A team from the Centre for Rural Development (SLE) visited the south-east of this West African country to look at the specific problems faced by young people and what development cooperation can do to help.

Sunnyboy is sitting in the tin-roofed palaver hut in Boundary Town, the settlement in the county of Grand Gedeh where he lives. “Two to three times a week I’m digging gold in the bush with my friends to make some money,” is the 17-year-old’s response when asked what work he does. He spends the rest of his time clearing the community roads of overgrown vegetation, helping to cultivate the small field where the family of nine grows cassava, rice, taro and sweet potatoes, and selling what little surplus is produced. His spare time is spent at the football club or with friends. The scattered settlement is remote: the two nearest towns, where markets and educational opportunities are located, are some 30 kilometres away – even with a motorbike the journey can take up to two and a half hours in the rainy season. Transport is limited: very few young people have a motorcycle, let alone a car.

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