Government mulls ‘youth brigades’ to fight environmental degradation

Residents are evacuated from Nyabugogo wetland. Rwanda Environment Management Authority has warned wetland encroachers that the law will catch up with them. File.

The Ministry of Youth has announced plans to form youth groups focused on providing paid services in the protection of environment starting with the next financial year, the Minister for Youth has revealed.

Minister Rosemary Mbabazi made the revelation on Wednesday while appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony as part of budget hearings for budget framework for the next three years.

The ministry, whose total budget allocation for the next financial year is estimated at slightly over Rwf1.5 billion, wants to focus on empowering the youth to be more productive and have the right kind of ethics and values among other priorities.

Among the detailed activities that will be carried out include the formation in different communities of youth groups who will be focused on providing paid services in the area of environmental protection.

Minister Mbabazi said that thousands of youths will be mobilised, trained, and helped to form cooperatives which will be employed in projects such as planting trees as part of forestation and agro forestation initiatives, conservation of rivers and lakes, and rehabilitation of mining sites.

She also said that the ‘youth eco-brigades’, as the groups are being dubbed in the ministry’s planning, will take on work in the area of greening and beautification of Kigali city and six secondary cities across the country, management of related tourism sites, and mobilise financial support for their green growth innovations.

“They (youth eco-brigades) will be development oriented youth troops even if they won’t be a real army,” Mbabazi told The New Times in an interview.

She said that they will channel Rwf75 million through the National Youth Council (NYC), which will be used to mobilise Youth Ecobrigade Cooperatives and build their capacities so they can deliver on targeted services.

It is envisaged that the Youth Ecobrigade Programme, which will be launched in December, will create jobs for 200,000 members of the youth over the next three years, including 26,000 jobs for skilled people.

According to Emmanuel Bigenimana, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, trained members of local youth cooperatives will be able to work on environmental projects and deliver successfully.

“We believe that every sector is an opportunity for the youth to create jobs. They are strong enough and they are ready to provide solutions if given an opportunity,” he said.

The budget for the ministry was discussed as part of the parliamentary committee’s on-going analysis of the Budget Framework Paper (BFP) and the midterm budget estimates for the next three financial years (2018/19-2020/21), which the Government tabled last week in the Lower House.

The Budget Framework Paper will provide the basis for the preparation of the draft law for the 2018-19 budget, which will be read in June 2018 as a final budget proposal to be approved by Parliament.


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