The areas of intervention of this project are located in Volcanic Region called also "Lava Highlands or Piedmont of Volcanoes" bordering Volcanoes National Park in northern-west Rwanda. The Volcanoes National Park is a protected tourist area where live rare mountains gorillas (Gorilla Gorilla Beringei) listed by IUCN as in danger of extinction and home of others several wildlife. Due to its beautiful landscapes, the Volcanic Region is considered as the heart of Rwanda concerning biodiversity, terrestrial carbon store and a potential tourism destination. Densely populated (700 to 1,041 inhabitant per km2), the Volcanic region is one of Rwanda’s region most affected by deforestation mostly caused by the expansion of agricultural land, the intensive harvesting of timber for fuel and other forest products, as well as by resettlement and urban development. As the population increases, land and other important resources become scarce, and lead to high poverty and increased dependence on natural resources.
The problem of youth unemployment is largely evident in region despite the fact that most of them have received secondary and universities diplomas. Also, collective entrepreneurship and social enterprises are an underutilized option for job creation in the region, both in the formal and informal sector. Young women are doubly affected as they face not only lack of opportunities and capital, but poor quality work, especially in the informal segments characterized by low wages and less secure employment. In addition, the creation of new companies allows, at least in theory, equal access in terms of gender and is not limited to either rural or urban areas. Unfortunately, in practice, many young women still have to overcome extra hurdles to become entrepreneurs and stay and grow in their businesses. In a mainly rural economy with absence of industries and few services across volcanic region, the options for youth for decent work remain also limited. This situation has led many of them to work in the informal economy in difficult working conditions creating precariousness in the absence of social protection while others are discouraged to create enterprises despite their actual needs. Thus the cycle of poverty among the young in volcanic region remains unbroken.
One response to address this challenge was the creation of GYEBO.
GYEBO is a pro-conservation young Community-Based Organization entirely run by highly motivated and innovative young people which the long term goal is to contribute towards environmental conservation through environmentally friendly enterprises in Volcanic Region (around Volcanoes National Park). GYEBO operating its activities with the mission of " Empowering young people through the promotion of environmentally friendly enterprises that significantly improve their socio-economic and cultural living conditions while contributing to natural resource conservation and sustainable development across Volcanic tourist region." The objectives of GYEBO are to: (1) involve the youth in sustainable income generating activities and thus empower them economically to become responsible citizens for their communities; (2) involve the youth in the conservation of the natural resource across volcanic region; (3) contribute towards livelihoods security and poverty reduction and (4) Engage young people in peace-building and non-violent activities that contribute to living together in dignity and unity.
Its activities are organized by youth and include everything from collection of waste in tourist areas and valorization of organic waste in farm composting vegetables, agroforestry trees and bamboos nurseries production and plantation, sustainable beekeeping, community ecotourism around Volcanoes National Park, water harvesting, creation and running of Volcanoes Wildlife Clubs and the initiation of Volcano Eco-Business Center to provide products and green services.
The GYEBO target volcanic region young people 16 to 30 years old who have at least completed twelve years of basic education. GYEBO will also working with other stakeholders to combat youth/children beggars who live in high-tourism areas looking for money or souvenirs from tourists. Many fear that these youth/children beggars to travelers will become offenders which leads anti-social activities and loss of moral values and that some of them will even drop out of school. To avoid any contact of these young children with the tourists by occupying them usefully through the sustainable income generating activities will be a sustainable solution to this phenomenon.
The changes from this program are expected to result in:
ü Green entrepreneurial skills for young people to help them initiate and manage their environmentally friendly enterprises;
ü Young people positive attitudes towards innovation, eco-enterprise and self-employment;
ü A noteworthy decent and productive jobs creation amongst young people and poverty reduced across volcanic region;
ü Increased food security and poverty reduced for local communities especially for people living adjacent to Volcanoes National Park;
ü Increased environment awareness and sense of responsibility through the youth vis- à-vis to biodiversity conservation especially conservation of Volcanoes National Park and its wildlife especially rare mountain gorillas.
This will transform volcanic region into object of national pride with zero hunger and thereby help in the formation of a new consciousness amongst youth Rwandan’s towards their country.
Support through this program will come in forms of capacity technological knowledge and access to seed capital, required equipment such as greenhouse for vegetables where high quality fresh vegetables will be produced through out the year.
Because volcanic region is one of the biggest destinations for both domestic and international tourism in Rwanda, there is a strong demand for fresh vegetables and fruits from the local hotels and supply of locally grown organic food is not sufficient. The program is focused on organic vegetable/fruit farming by small-scale youth farmers.
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