This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, the World Bank Africa annual writing contest, inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country’s economic development. Blog4Dev winners responded to the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?
: for example, artistic drawings on the streets. During the outbreak of COVID-19, different youth-led organizations have played an active role in the fight against COVID-19 through information dissemination.
One of the biggest challenges is a language barrier, because most of the information about COVID-19 is disseminated either in English, French, or Arabic. Young people can work with their government and civil society organizations on translating the information into local languages to ensure that everyone in the community is informed about the virus and following the measures for prevention.
I advocate for a collective youth response through carrying out several consultations on the impact of COVID-19 on the youth globally, especially on mental health, impact on vulnerable people like refugees and people with disabilities.
The government, civil society organizations, and youth can work together to provide the nation with inclusive preventive measures to adhere to and ensure their reinforcement.
Young people can carry out awareness campaigns to educate the public with the right information about Coronavirus and how to keep safe. They can also carry out online educational webinars and outreach initiatives, highlighting how different groups are affected and tailoring solutions to address their unique challenges.
Gender-based violence and early pregnancies, especially among schoolgirls, have highly increased during the outbreak of COVID-19 because of the restrictions. Young people can work with their government and CSOs, especially women-led organizations, to establish toll-free telephone lines for people who are facing any form of violence, especially gender-based violence which has been on the rise in the pandemic period.
The national lockdown has led to the rise of unemployment among young people. The youth can work with their government to empower young people to venture into entrepreneurship, start small business initiatives, and encourage sports among young people, especially among young girls. The youth can also organize workshops and trainings for young people to encourage them to be innovative, take advantage of media and other platforms, and also venture into arts to create employments opportunities.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, people are faced with new realities: No physical contact with family members and friends, home schooling, working from home, temporary unemployment, etc. Therefore, young people can work with their government and CSOs to create a hotline for anyone who is going through stress and fear to obtain emotional, psychological, and social help.
Emma Kwaje Martin is the 2021 Blog4Dev winner from South Sudan. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.