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Date: 14 Jun 2012
Title: EC leaders urged to prioritise youth
Flagstaff - Government leaders in the Eastern Cape have been urged to put youth development and employment at the centre of their plans.
On Wednesday, Deputy Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Obed Bapela addressed residents of Lubala village outside Flagstaff, on various issues pledged by President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address and how government was responding to the call to alleviate unemployment especially among the youth.
The meeting was part of the Government Communication and Information System's countrywide public participation programme, which focuses on engaging the nation on developments emanating from State of the Nation Address.
Lubala village was identified as one of the poverty stricken areas in the OR Thambo District Municipality prompting an intervention by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in 2010. Since Motlanthe's visit in the area two years ago, several community projects, which form part of government's War on Poverty Programme, have been launched with locals hailing them as a success.
Bapela said tackling youth unemployment would make the rural area less dependable on government hand outs.
"We will be asking government across all spheres to really priorities the youth moving forward. When President Zuma came into power he said all departments must have youth directorates and they have been established, we need to see how we utilise those directorates," he said.
In his State of the Nation Address, Zuma mentioned the National Youth Development Agency, in association with state organs and the private sector, as a vehicle to be used to mainstream youth development in public sector programmes and to promote youth enterprises and cooperatives.
Government had also developed the National Rural Youth Service Corps programme to assist youth in rural areas. A total of 7 398 youth were enrolled in the programme in 2010. The enrolment number will gradually increase by recruiting a further 5 000 youth during 2011/12 and a further 10 000 during the 2012/13 financial year.
On Wednesday, Bapela also highlighted the need for renewed focus on early childhood development citing government's target of enrolling one million children at early childhood development facilities by 2014.
He pointed out that if the country was to speed up youth development "we have to start from the bottom and early childhood development is what we also need to focus on in our villages".
At Lubala, Bapela visited several community-based development projects, among them a community a health facility, a child development facility which was still under construction and the Lubala poultry project.
The projects were all funded by government as part of the integrated anti-poverty strategy with Bapela saying there were plans to roll it out to nearby villages.
Once complete, the early childhood facility would be able to accommodate up to 50 children and will be staffed with two personnel, one working as a full time educator and the other focusing on experimental learning.
"There is quite a significant progress in terms of how communities here respond to this challenge of unemployment and poverty and of course working together with government they can see that we are all moving towards addressing these socio-economic challenges. So I will be suggesting that this area be used as an example that we can model from".
Locals told Bapela that the limited access to basic services such as water and sanitation was still a major issue facing Lubala residents with only 15 water tanks servicing the entire community. There were also houses with no proper sanitation; something which they feared could lead to diseases.
Ingquza Hill Local Municipality Mayor Pat Mdingi said the problems were receiving attention.
"It's an issue that we are grappling with, we are all of the view that people should have access to proper sanitation, the issues are receiving attention, this is a dry area and already we have met with several experts to see how best we can deal with the issue of water shortages," said Mdingi, adding that rain water tanks was one of the temporary solutions. - BuaNews