The 3rd ECOWAS forum of the National Volunteer Agencies in West Africa dubbed “Volunteerism for peace and security” has been officially opened by the Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah. The forum seeks to harness the talents and energies of young leaders of various professional backgrounds and commitments for socio-economic development.

Addressing the Forum, Hon. Asiamah observed that the youth are rarely seen as stakeholders in promoting peace in their communities adding that ECOWAS is on the right track to changing this narrative owing to the tenacity of purpose of the National Volunteer Agencies.

The Sports Minister further noted that in Ghana, young people are providing inputs to government decisions that foster a more youth-friendly environment to promote entrepreneurship and reduce the incidence of youth unemployment, exploitation of the youth through human trafficking and urban-rural migration.

To this end, the Minister said an effective monitoring mechanism should be instituted to maximize the impact of the volunteer program.

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority (NYA) Mr. Emmanuel Sin-nyet Asigri expressed his appreciation to ECOWAS for the collaboration, adding, “this is a clear indication of the commitment of member states to the Volunteers’ Programme” .

Mr Asigri was hopeful that the outcome of the forum as espoused in the theme, “volunteerism for peace and security” will contribute immensely to enriching a fit for purpose terms of reference for the functioning of a permanent secretariat of the Forum so that key actions could be identified and planned for the execution by the Member States.

Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Chair, ECOWAS Volunteers Programme Regional Coordination Council stated that the ECOWAS Volunteer Program (EVP) since its inception in 2004, sort to create a pool of youthful exuberance united in their belief that volunteer engagement can be used as a tool for the promotion of development, peace building, reconciliation and national rehabilitation in post conflict countries through mobilization.

She noted that the program falls within the framework of the region’s new vision of taking regional governance to the grassroots through its ECOWAS of the people’s initiative Vision 2010.