The EVP was launched in Monrovia, Liberia in March 2010 and, under its ongoing pilot phase, covers Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its objective is to deploy volunteers as part of efforts to promote the ECOWAS ideals including peace, unity, democracy, sustainable development and regional integration.
Opening a week of induction training for 40 ECOWAS volunteers deployed to the country, the minister described the programme as an important mechanism for cooperation and development in the region. He applauded the use of youths as the best guarantors of the success of the programme considering their vigour and capacity to contribute to change and development through structural transformation of Member States.
"Youths are the best tools for promoting progress and improving the conditions of our people," the minister stated, noting that the volunteers will be deployed to strategic sectors of the country's economy.
He enumerated the four pillars of volunteerism as a tool for cooperation and development as the capacity to adapt to various conditions, contribution to the reinforcement of human capacity, the neutrality of members and capacity to maximize impact.
The minister also commended the participation of the UN in the programme through the UN Volunteer and the UNDP, adding that the implementation architecture would ensure the participation of all stakeholders for the effective delivery of its mandate. He pledged Guinea's determination to support the programme, to complement its development efforts.
In an earlier speech, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop said the programme would help to reinforce the community spirit among the citizens, with volunteers contributing not only to regional development but also to the promotion of regional peace and stability.
The Commissioner said that youths as a significant segment of the region's population, represent an important tool for creating a culture of peace in the region and that the EVP provides an important platform to deploy their energies for development.
In the speech, delivered by the director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, Mr. Francis Chuks Njoaguani, the commissioner said the volunteers for Guinea who were recruited from seven Member States, will help reinforce capacity in various areas.
The UNDP Resident Representative and Coordinator of the UN System in Guinea, Mr. Anthonny Kwaku Ohemeng-Boamah said the UN leadership, in promoting volunteerism, recognized the value it would add to world development.
Describing the EVP as an opportunity for citizen participation and for promoting solidarity and reciprocity, he extolled the dynamism that ECOWAS has demonstrated in the pursuit of the programme.
The UN official urged the volunteers to see themselves as ambassadors of development, and commended the government of Guinea for its interest and support for the programme.
A minute of silence was observed at the opening for a pioneer ECOWAS volunteer, Stephen Udu Arusi who died in Liberia and Mr. Namory Traore, a staff of the Ministry of International Cooperation of Guinea who also passed on after very active involvement in the implementation of the EVP in Guinea.
Thirty-three volunteers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Togo and Senegal were initially deployed in December 2012, with another seven added this year to bring to 40 the number of volunteers deployed to the country.
These young volunteers, aged between 18 and 35 years, will contribute to strengthening the capacity of their host country in various fields including health care, secondary education and civil society youth development capacity building.
They will serve for an initial period of twelve months, renewable upon confirmed satisfactory performance, for another twelve months.