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Dakar, Senegal - 2 February 2018 - Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake has called on the international community to fully support the implementation of a pilot project on implementing the demographic dividend in an urban setting. On the invitation of UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mabingue Ngom, the UN Youth Envoy visited a pilot project on the operationalization of the demographic dividend in FASS County, a district of the suburbs of Dakar.

The FASS pilot project is an innovative initiative that aims to operationalize the demographic dividend in an urban context. It is a partnership between the FASS  County in Dakar and UNFPA, focusing on issues of women's empowerment, health, education and youth employment.

The Mayor of Fass, Ousmane Ndoye, told the nearly 500 guests at the event, that the pressure of population growth (20% in 10 years), the high unemployment rate among the young people of which 75% are under 35 years were all challenges that the project seek to address. He expressed great pride to have been selected amongst 485 Counties in Senegal on an important project that would contribute to changing the lives of its resident.

During her encounter with the population, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake urged the youth; particularly the female youth to get actively get involved in the project and take leadership in the project from its inception and throughout the implementation of the initiative, which she described as innovative.

“This pilot project should be an example to other communities across Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, facing similar realities to those of FASS.” affirmed UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mabingue Ngom, taking the opportunity to express gratitude to the UN Youth Envoy for leveraging her role to call on Heads of State and other key stakeholders to heavily invest in education, as a lever to harness the demographic dividend.

Representatives of the Minister of Health and Youth and Senegalese artist Coumba Gawlo Seck emphasized the role women and girls play in the successful capture of the demographic dividend. Coumba Gawlo Seck enjoined her sisters to space their births to preserve their health and to be more involved in income-generating activities.

Earlier on the UN Youth Envoy addressed the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Summit, jointly hosted by the Senegalese President, H.E. President Macky Sall and H. E. Emmanuel Macron of France, with the presence of other Heads of State, dozens of Education Ministers of the world, Representatives of the civil society and the private sector.

While in Senegal, the UN Youth Envoy visited the Study Group on Population Education (GEEP), a non-governmental organization in the field of comprehensive sexual education (ESC) and reproductive health at school and those deployed at community level by peer educators in Mbour, about 80 Km away from Dakar.

From Senegal, the UN Youth Envoy continued to The Gambia, on her five-country African tour.