Dear Editor,

Recent warnings by two senior politicians in Honiara regarding the possibility of future outbreaks of hostilities, likened to what happened during the past "ethnic tension," unless the "genuine grievances" of the people of Guadalcanal and Malaita are effectively dealt with, including issues of land ownership and tenure, as well as an equal disbursement of work schemes and employment, pose very serious concerns and it is hoped the government initiatives underway to examine the land questions and to tackle the outstanding matters pertaining to truth and reconciliation, will alleviate those concerns.

A big concern is, and will remain, given the existing economic outlook and climate, the question of job creation and the promotion of livelihood opportunities, especially for the economically excluded and socially vulnerable youth living in the mushrooming squatter like settlements around the national capital.

The recent youth parliaments focused more attention on Solomon's youth as a growing awareness of the potential of youth in the democratic process and development of the nation. I would hope, however, that the resurgence of interest in the youth underscores a realisation of the precariousness of youth livelihoods and the negative consequences, social and economic, of failing to find youth friendly policies to alleviate their plight.

Capacity development, especially skills training at all levels, coupled with job creation projects is critically needed and perhaps boosting training and labour demand with assistance from bodies such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Food And Development Organisation (IFAD) might help, although the IFAD's core mandate does not include "education" across its broad spread of agricultural specialisation schemes.

I would be recommending an approach to the United Nations, if not already done, since in the UN's recent World Development Report it was recommended that youth development programmes be expanded by adopting a multi-sector approach and partnership between a wide array of public and private organisations. There also exists a global Youth Employment Network, which was launched by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2001.

Unemployed, disillusioned, youths have been involved in civil wars in several countries and it was true that some rural youths involved themselves in the conflict that engulfed the Solomons during the wasted years between 1998 and 2003. It should be recognised that the expectations of young people for a better life are increasing, especially since many now have access to the internet and global information technologies. Unless their needs and concerns are adequately addressed then those very concerns could pose added threats to the long-term development prospects of the nation.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Short