Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative
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Why Nigeria?

A nation where the opportunities are boundless


Lagos is a burgeoning, developing city in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. However, the economy cannot support the estimated 6000 individuals who arrive each day, seeking employment. Unemployment rates throughout Nigeria are 30%, though the African Development Bank estimates that youth unemployment is often double that of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s public health concerns pose additional risks for youth trying to contribute to their communities in Lagos. The HIV epidemic is the fastest-growing in the world, and polio remains endemic in Nigeria, one of three nations targeted due to the disease’s threat. Malaria treatment exists, but too many of those most vulnerable to the disease, children and families who are economically vulnerable, are unable to access treatment.

Though youth have the potential to drive Nigeria’s development, they are blocked from playing their essential role in shaping Nigeria’s future.

The need to unite, educate and empower Nigerian to overcome these complex challenges has never been greater.

Grassroot Soccer in West Africa: Football is the most popular topic of discussion in Nigeria. Players, young and old, gather all over the country to play, in the streets or on the field, rain or shine. Incredibly, Nigeria’s physicians recommend that people reduce stress by caring less about the results of football matches.

The national sport is the most powerful tool available to engage Nigeria’s youth. YEDI piloted Grassrootsoccer’s first West Africa program in 2011, with great success. The program has now expanded to over 400 sites and reached over 40,000 children who are more empowered to make health choices and help their communities grow. (link to GRS YEDI activities page)



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Lagos is one of world’s fastest growing mega-cities in Africa’s most populous country. An estimated 6,000 people arrive in Lagos each day seeking employment– mostly young people, already vulnerable. The majority end up in one of the many slum neighborhoods.

According to the National Bureau Of Statistics, each year, about 1.8 million young Nigerians enter into the labour market. Meanwhile, unemployment in Nigeria is estimated at 22 percent, while youth unemployment is significantly higher at 38%, according to the World Bank. In addition to the detrimental effects on a nation’s economy, unemployment and poverty are the primary causes of drugs and substance abuse by teenagers and young adults in Nigeria according to an NOI survey.

Labour experts say the issue of unemployment in Nigeria sometimes arises as a result of inbalance between the kinds of workers wanted by employers and the kinds of workers looking for jobs. YEDI is working to mobilize youth potential by linking talented youth with the private sector, assisting them with relevant training and job placements to secure futures for youth and for Nigeria.

Public Health Priorities


Nigeria has the second largest population of individuals living with HIV, 3.3 million (2009, UNDP) In Lagos State alone, there are approximately 600,000 HIV positive individuals. However, fewer than 5,000 people have access to treatment. 70% of patients are not adhering as a result of poverty.

Malaria is a major public health problem in Nigeria as it is a risk for 97% of Nigeria’s population. There are an estimated 100 million malaria cases with over 300,000 deaths per year. Although treatment is available, many of those most at risk for malaria cannot access health centers or afford treatment, while others do not have information about the treatment available to them.

Nigeria is one of three countries where polio remains endemic. Though the government has launched a campaign to eradicate polio, some villages still are inaccessible, and thus the disease remains a grave health concern throughout the nation.

YEDI is working to prevent HIV from spreading amongst the youth population using a modified Grassrootsoccer curriculum for the Lagos context. The curriculum encourages practices to prevent HIV, malaria, and recreational drug use and will incorporate polio vaccination in certain communities. Also, youth learn to avoid risks, gender relations, and building self-confidence to empower youth to make healthy decisions and contribute to their communities. At the same time, YEDI’s programs offer health outreach to communities engaged through the soccer program. HIV and malaria testing and awareness-raising at events promotes health, reduces risks, and helps to reduce stigmatization of those affected by disease.

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