Development and the Next Generation: Investing in Iraqi Youth
This paper explores whether Iraqi youth have the opportunities, skills, and decision-making capabilities to contribute in economic sectors. It also examines whether Iraqi community leaders perceive young people as a source of positive, constructive energy and leadership. The paper discusses these issues from the perspective of ACDI/VOCA, which has led projects in Iraq to provide opportunities for greater engagement of youth over the past three and a half years. ACDI/VOCA has learned several key lessons in its community development and youth program planning. These include:
- Creation of short-term jobs for youth provides immediate financial relief and some social stability;
- Long term job generation must receive greater emphasis;
- Youth need additional skills training and are eager to take part in it;
- Linking community groups with the local government is critical to help create accountability with the government.
The future of Iraq depends on the opportunities available to the youth to shape their countrys development. This will require a major expansion of efforts to engage youth in community-based development programs that include:
- Providing links to long-term jobs;
- Expanding educational opportunities;
- Supporting vocational and social programs.