Irregular migration that takes place outside the laws, regulations or international agreements is common in Sierra Leone. Young people are often driven to seek economic opportunities across the country or in other countries, thus exposing themselves to risks. In this context, Koji Arasawa (Japan) shares his reflections on his service as a UN Volunteer with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In supporting decent work and economic growth with IOM, I took the lead in youth entrepreneurship and expanded opportunities for young people's skill development. This was an important part of reducing the flow of irregular migration and improving Sierra Leone's economic development.
From 2020-2021, I was a Project Development and Management Officer with IOM. My assignment was fully funded by the Government of Japan, under the Human Resource Development Programme for Peacebuilding and Development.
Focused on the rural and regional context, I promoted skills that would help young entrepreneurs sustain themselves in their respective economic settings. This we did by designing and delivering a market-driven training curriculum with vocational training. --Koji Arasawa, UN Volunteer Project Development and Management Officer with IOM, Sierra Leone
The trainings included about 200 participants and focused on how to maintain tractors, roads and heavy machinery. Additionally, I mentored another 240 young entrepreneurs, guiding them on how to explore avenues for economic growth. In total, I trained 440 young people, 30 per cent of them women.
My UN Volunteer assignment also provided me with an opportunity to improve my management acumen. I received vocational training through a collaboration of the Ministry of Youth, Agriculture and Higher Education and under the patronage of a private Japanese company.
Expanding economic growth for young entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone and building on my own skillset of partnership development and project management, my UN Volunteer assignment was a positive combination of contribution and learning – and sustainable development on both ends.