09/24/2021 | Press release | Archived content
This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, the World Bank Africa annual writing contest, inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country's economic development. Blog4Dev winners responded to the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?
Of all the planning and risk anticipation, no one had foreseen or imagined that a pandemic could paralyze the entire world. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis surprised us all and changed the way we live. It calls on us to rethink our priorities and redefine our strategies.
We were able not only to see governments deploying policy responses to COVID-19 and involving local and international partners, but also to witness the birth of innovative initiatives led by youth. It is therefore more than ever important to engage more young people in public-private sector synergy to identify appropriate actions, and ensure good physical, mental and financial health for all.
Now is not the time for lamentations. It one for quick adaptation and delivery of effective solutions. Young entrepreneurs are a great asset for that and are encouraged to take advantage of current market opportunities.
These changemakers should collaborate with public institutions and civil society organizations on key issues to be addressed during and after this health crisis. Collaboration will take place through programs grouped by theme to respond to the greatest challenges.
In addition, it would be interesting to set up platforms that will allow young people to collaborate, learn from each other, share experiences, and incubate new ideas. Their ideas would then be shared to inspire decision-makers. Also, youth groups could conduct data collection.
In this modern age, it is crucial to strengthen digital literacy. COVID-19 made us realize that technology and internet access in particular are not a luxury, but a necessity. Today, digital has become an integral part of everything we do. So, it is necessary to adapt and accelerate digital transformation.
In Niger, tech communities and entrepreneurs can help bridge the digital divide. Young people, friends of social networks, have naturally integrated them into to raise awareness, share engaging content and other useful information.
On one hand, social media has made anti-COVID-19 campaigns successful and spread the word. On the other hand, these channels have been used to spread anxiety, fear, and panic. Indeed, as much as digital is a powerful tool to make our lives better, it can also contribute to poisoning it.
The pandemic amplified the flow of false information--giving rise to an information pandemic called "infodemia" by the World Health Organization. We must use social media responsibly and, why not, launch campaigns on the importance of good behavior on the internet, recognizing that fake news can harm others.
Young people are also able to care for those in need, by being logistical support, distribute hygiene kits, do community services for people with disabilities and the elderly, and design an inclusive response to address social inequality. We must never forget that rural communities tend to be the poorest, with the least resources. This means that we need to mobilize to ensure a targeted support to these groups, report emergency alerts, provide relief efforts as needed.
It is up to all of us to build strong and resilient systems. We must ensure that the most vulnerable groups are not left behind.
Fadjimata Harouna Moussa Dit Balla is the 2021 Blog4Dev winner from Niger. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.