Looking to the future

Increasing opportunities for youth in Djibouti and South Sudan

Story by Danijela Milic

Some of the female apprentices stand in front of the large storage silos at the Humanitarian Logistics Hub in Djibouti. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

The World Food Programme (WFP), with national partners, is leveraging 60 years of supply chain expertise to develop a new generation of professionals by providing vocational training programmes to youth in Djibouti and South Sudan; teaching young students how to handle forklifts to managing inventory and everything in between.

In Djibouti, thanks to an enhanced partnership between WFP and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training of Djibouti, with generous funding from USAID, 800 apprentices are participating in vocational training programmes in transport and logistics. At the WFP Humanitarian Logistics Base (HLB) near Djibouti port, the apprentices get to practice what they study in class. Guided and supported by WFP staff, they practice packing, palletizing, stacking, and use of warehouse equipment.

The apprentices have the opportunity to test a variety of skills including driving a forklift. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

The HLB is busy and makes for an exciting place to learn because the Djibouti Port is the main gateway for food entering Ethiopia, and is an important transshipment point for some of the largest WFP operations in South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia.

“I observed and participated in the activities that take place in a warehouse — loading, unloading, driving a forklift, managing the stock and all this to provide assistance to vulnerable Djiboutians and food-insecure people in Tigray now, ” said Ayane, one of the apprentices taking part in the vocational training scheme.

In line with WFP’s commitment to supporting gender equality and empowering women and girls, the programme seeks to ensure that a minimum of half the participants are female.

“Logistics has been a male-dominated field, but in this vocational training programme, 76 percent of the students are female. I am excited that more women are getting involved in humanitarian logistics,” explained Cathrine Pfidze, WFP Warehouse Manager in Djibouti.

Participants of the Female Capacity Strengthening training. Photo: WFP/Yom Moses

In South Sudan, pervasive gender inequality continues to disproportionately expose women to unemployment and food insecurity. Through its Female Capacity Strengthening Programme, WFP works with the University of Juba on capacity strengthening of South Sudanese women to provide more women with employment opportunities in supply chain management.

So far, WFP has offered contracts to 13 participants, enabling them to pursue their career in logistics. The apprentices receive classroom and on-the-job training covering all aspects of WFP’s supply chain operations in South Sudan. With large swathes of the country inaccessible by road during the rainy season, severe infrastructure gaps and ongoing insecurity, South Sudan continues to be one of WFP’s most challenging operational contexts.

Moriku Alice learns how to do a physical inventory of stock in a warehouse in South Sudan. Photo: WFP/Moyak Deng

‘’This project acted as a stepping stone for some of us and I must confess that it has played a very big role in my career as I want to become a great female logistician in the future,’’ said Moriku Alice, a training participant who received WFP’s assistance as a child and now works with the organization.

Leveraging its global presence and supply chain expertise, WFP has a unique opportunity to ensure the capacity, partnerships, and networks needed are in place to support achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2, 5 and 17 with value-added solutions such as vocational training programmes. Through these initiatives, WFP contributes to increased employment opportunities for vulnerable youth, increases food security and gender equality, and brings together key stakeholders to achieve the SDGs.

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