The Zambia government created the Youth Development Fund (YDF) in 2000 in order to address the issue of youth unemployment by encouraging young people who could not find formal employment to pursue entrepreneurship and self-employment. Zambia has high rates of youth unemployment. In 2014 approximately 10.5% of young people aged 18-35 were unemployed compared to 7.4% of general unemployment rate (Central Statistical Office, 2015). The challenge of high youth unemployment remain of great concern, especially that Zambia is a youthful country whereby 80% of the population falls below the age of 35 (Central Statistical Office, 2012). The problem of youth unemployment has been aggravated by the fact that economic growth in the past 14 years has not been very inclusive. Therefore, the introduction of the YDF is a good action by Zambia in addressing the unemployment challenges. This introduction of this empowerment program is in line with the National Youth Policy objectives of 2015, which are aimed to;
. Promoting active participation of youth in socio-economic development of the country.
. Encourage the out of school, marginalized and unemployed youth to venture into sustainable and viable income.
. Promote rural development
. Provide business support services for sustainable youth enterprise development
. Promote the development of competitive sustainable and growth-oriented citizen-owned youth enterprise.
It is worth noting that since the YDF was created, about 19 years down the line, there hasn’t been much to show for it in terms of tangible results of youth empowerment from this fund due to a number of factors and challenges faced in the implementation of this fund. For instance, according to the study and evaluation of the programme (YDF) done by the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) in 2018, it was concluded that the programme failed to achieve its objectives. “The evaluation found that the YDF had only created a total of 742 paid jobs from 2011 to 2015. Compared to the amount of resources that were invested in the YDF, the created jobs did not sufficiently contribute to reduction in the high levels youth unemployment. Additionally, the welfare of the beneficiaries did not also improve compared to that of the non- beneficiaries”, ZIPAR study concluded.
The entire Submission on the Youth Development Fund can be found and downloaded here https://caritaszambia.org/index.php/publications/key-papers/file/149-submission-on-the-youth-development-fund