European Union places youth at the centre of its cooperation with Eswatini
The European Union (EU) will provide €32 million (approx. 575 million SZL) for the period 2021-24 for development projects in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The EU funding will focus on the priority area of Human Development and Social Inclusion, with the goal of assisting the emaSwati youth. The financial allocation for 2025-2027 will be determined following a review in 2024.
EU Ambassador to Eswatini, Ms. Dessislava Choumelova, said:
“For more than 50 years, the EU has worked to make emaSwati’s daily lives better. From access to clean and potable water, free primary education funded by the EU between 2010 and 2015, improving the school curricula, support to smallholder farmers, building hospitals, classrooms, roads and dams, strengthening of governance, democracy and human rights, supporting the civil society, the EU has been a reliable and trustworthy partner of Eswatini, with interventions to match the emaSwati aspirations for peace and prosperity. Today, we open a new chapter in our cooperation, by committing ourselves to long-term support for the youth in line with our shared values: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights. ”
The focus of the EU Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) has been defined following extensive consultation with the Eswatini government, the 27 EU Member States and diverse key stakeholders, in particular civil society organisations, including women and youth bodies, local authorities, representatives of the private sector, the UN and other partners. The MIP is based on a clear understanding of the EU and Eswatini’s mutual interests and responsibilities and the country’s National Development Plan, reflecting a longstanding and reliable partnership. It responds to the context of existing political and socio-economic challenges that have been aggravated by climate change, COVID-19 pandemic, the civil unrest and delays in conducting an inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue.
The future actions under the MIP will aim to bring the EU support as close as possible to emaSwati by working, where possible, with and through civil society organisations and the private sector, while encouraging a continued comprehensive and inclusive dialogue among all national stakeholders. Concretely, the MIP focuses on empowering the disadvantaged youth and women with skills, income generation and employment through a series of interventions to improve access to formal and non-formal education and the quality and relevance of the TVET (technical and vocational education and training) system. Projects will be designed to support durable peace, long-term stability across the country and progress towards the SDGs.
In the EU, 2022 is the European Year of Youth, which provides a platform for the young generation to make its voice heard on how to build a better future that is greener, more inclusive and digital. In October 2022, the EU has adopted a Youth Action Plan in EU External Action, a first-ever EU strategic partnership initiative to strengthen engagement with young people worldwide. The EU newly adopted MIP for Eswatini, resonates fully with the objectives of the Youth Action Plan to put youth at the centre of the EU external action for sustainable development, equality and peace. The Action Plan envisages partnerships to engage, empower and connect, aimed at amplifying youth voices in policy and decision-making, fighting inequalities, providing young people with the skills and tools they need to thrive and fostering opportunities for youth to network and engage with peers worldwide.
2023 will be the European Year of Skills which fits perfectly with the new EU programme in Eswatini. The MIP will focus on empowering the emaSwati youth and vulnerable women, to achieve their personal goals by acquiring professional skills leading to quality jobs, or starting their own businesses, to fully participate and contribute in a gender-balanced and inclusive society, where democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are respected and upheld. An inclusive, timely and comprehensive national dialogue, called for by the youth, but also by the EU and other international partners, would be a massive step forward in this direction.
The investment in Human Development and Social Inclusion in Eswatini falls in the scope of the Global Gateway strategy of the EU and will be implemented in partnership with the European Union Member States in a Team Europe approach.