West Africa has a fair share of an active population. Since the production force of any society is largely domiciled in the youth population, ECOWAS is committed to harnessing the potentials of its youth in its integration drive and to reposition this mobilised force for effective economic, social and cultural integration of the region.

In this vein, the objective of the ECOWAS youth policy include but is not limited to mobilising youth to contribute effectively to economic, social and cultural development and integration of the region.

This laudable objective is wholly justified by Recommendation A/REC.1/5/83 on the mobilisation of the various sections of the population in the integration process, Article 6, on Social Affairs of the Revised Treaty, which provides for the promotion of women, youth organisations and professional associations as a means of ensuring mass involvement in the activities of the Community. Added to this is the Abuja Youth Development and Empowerment Strategy Communiqué adopted by Youths of the First ECOWAS Youth Forum, 10-16 August, 2003.

It is in furtherance of the adoption of the ECOWAS youth policy and strategic action plan among others that the ECOWAS youth forum is being hosted inclusive of the inauguration of the ECOWAS youth volunteer scheme. ECOWAS has now created a Youth Centre currently based in Burkina-Faso.

Complementing the youth programme is the ECOWAS Child Development Programme which is devoted to the improvement of the quality of lives of children, enhancing their dignity, protecting their inalienable rights, giving attention to their physical, mental, moral and spiritual development and welfare. Early childhood development activities, including appropriate low cost family and community-based intervention is seen as indispensable to the progressive future development of the Child of the region.

In addition to this, the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre has been very active since the authority of the Heads of States and Government took a decision in 2005 (A/DEC/13/01/05) to transform the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports to the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre.

Today, the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre has become a specialised institution of the Community charged with the responsibility for youth and sports development in the entire region.  The Centre also initiates, develops, coordinates, as well as monitors and implements programmes concerning youths and sports development within the community.

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