In the past two decades or so, there have been tens of thousands of Gambian youths risking their lives to reach the shores of Europe. These people use the back way mostly because they could not secure visas to go through the legal ways. Unfortunately, many of these people lose their lives in the high seas.
This is indeed a cause for concern as the world is becoming more complicated every day; presenting more challenges as it changes. More and more young people are waking up to new needs which were hitherto unknown requirements. As such, the need for them to have more opportunities to fulfill those needs will propel them to do whatever it takes to go and seek greener pastures.
The problem though is that the populations of the European countries have now realized the danger in the influx of migrants into their countries and have expressed the will to ensure that less people enter their countries. The governments therefore have sought for aggressive ways of stopping the flow of migrants into their countries. One of the methods they have adopted is to give monetary incentives to countries from which migrants originate so as to stop the flow.
It has been reported that the European Union has thus pledged €3.9 million to help reintegrate an estimated one thousand five hundred returnees to the Gambia over the next three years. How do we ensure that this money is used in such a way that at the end of the three years these young people do not find themselves in a situation where they will want to risk their lives on the Mediterranean again?
It would be prudent to remember that giving cash to these individuals unchecked will not help at all. Given the economic conditions of the country currently, even a million dalasi given to an individual will be spent in a very short time without realizing any meaningful change in the person’s life.
The money must go into improving the skills and capacities of the individuals. And then key areas which can create employment for them must be equipped in a way that they will find jobs which will pay well enough for them to stay at home and work to develop their country instead of going back way. This will be more beneficial to them (the returnees) and the country in the long run.
The agricultural sector must be enhanced to move away from production alone and directed towards preservation and processing of what we produce. In this way, we will be creating employment, exporting and earning more revenue for our national coffers. In doing this, we will also be solving the problem of unemployment at the same time. The love of country that has been observed in our youths in the past few months can be harnessed for national development. With the right policies, these patriotic young Gambians will prefer to stay at home and develop their country rather than going to seek greener pastures. For, why would one go to seek greener pastures if your pastures are already green?
Have a good day Mr President.