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An Interview with Joseph Emmanuel Yaba on Youth Sustainable Development in Africa


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/01/08


Joseph Emmanuel Yaba is the CEO of Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA). He discusses: background; sustainability; the reason for the focus on the young; building human capacity for young people; providing a bigger net of support; feedback; difficulties in the midst of the work of YiSHDA; and moving into 2019.

Keywords: Africa, CEO, Joseph Emmanuel Yaba, sustainability, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA).

An Interview with Joseph Emmanuel Yaba on Youth Sustainable Development in Africa: CEO, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us simply start on some of the background for you.

Joseph Emmanuel Yaba: Thank you very much. My story proves that every young person can succeed and help others get there. I was not born with a silver spoon and I grew up in a home where I was taught that the best service one can give is service to humanity and that influenced my decision and calling into the civil society sector and has also impacted my work.

2. Jacobsen: In terms of sustainability, why is this such a particularly important goal or objective currently?

Yaba: For sustainability, we believe that the best form of sustainability is building the human capacity. There is a need to build human capacity, to continue to advocate for policies and programs that will impact positively in the society. Sustainability is key because it enables us to build tomorrow’s leader today so that they can meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.

3. Jacobsen: Is that the reason for the focus on the young as well?

Yaba: Yes, because there is a need for young people to be empowered and to harness their potential. For sustainable development to be achieved, young people need to be at the center of sustainable development and to be prepared also to work across all the thematic areas of sustainability and value creation.

As I said, human capacity is the best form of sustainability. Yes, we can build infrastructure. But it will, in time, go away, which is why human capacity in the most important. It is important for young people to take on leadership positions and to be part of the value creation.

4. Jacobsen: When you are trying to build the human capacity of young people, how are you going about doing that?

Yaba: We have carved a niche for ourselves in the areas of design and implementation of programs, especially in the areas of economic empowerment as our key special area. When people are empowered economically, they will be able to build a sustainable livelihood for themselves, families and the immediate community.

We have also carved a niche in governance and civic engagement. There is a need for young people to get into governance and work on accountability and transparency. Young people need to question why things are not working and how they should work.

We have also identified health and environmental sustainability. Our organization builds the human capacity through the above thematic areas.

5. Jacobsen: With this global emphasis or this emphasis on humanity, how does this provide a bigger net of not only support within a specific country or region, but also within the general populace and potential investors and supporters?

Yaba: Of course, Sustainable Development Goals is the center now, it is what the world is pursuing now. Our programs and projects have been designed to also aim at achieving the bigger goals, which is the SDGs. It is what the world leaders have set aside to achieve by 2030 and it is our collective responsibility to work towards it attainment.

It is not only the SDGs we are targeting. We are also targeting the African Union Agenda 2063. We are not just implementing on the smaller scale; we are also looking at the bigger picture. We call it working and acting locally but also making a global impact.

6. Jacobsen: What has been the feedback from people around the program involved in it, directly or indirectly?

Yaba: The feedback has been amazing. Of course, we have one or two challenges, but we are always committed regardless of the challenge. We are very much committed as an organization; we are very optimistic and very encouraged with the feedback from most of the beneficiaries.

It would be important to note that through our programs and activities we have impacted cumulatively a total of 20,000 young people. These are young people who are currently empowered, who have found something worthwhile. They are currently doing well in most of the fields that they have found themselves. We have track records of success with the young people who have been in the programs.

We have success stories and are still optimistic about still attaining more success stories.

7. Jacobsen: In terms of the difficulties, what have they been? How have you overcome them?

Yaba: As an organization, the number one challenge has always been the issue of funding. But we are not discouraged by the funding issue that we do not get too often. We still go ahead and make sure that we squeeze resources because we must keep the activities and programs running and maintained.

Regardless of our challenges, our organization takes pride in having young people who have tremendous skills. We use our skills to break our barriers. We use our skills as young people to push ahead. We take responsibility for our actions, for our beneficiaries and partner organization. We never let things weigh us down. We still go ahead to make sure we achieve our goals and our aims.

8. Jacobsen: Looking into 2019, what are some of the targeted objectives now?

Yaba: 2019 is a year of expansion and growth and leveraging on some of our success stories and to work on some of our programs as well. We are trying to see how we can explore better opportunities, leverage partnerships, leverage collaborations more; no organization or nobody is an island.

We all need collaboration. We all need assistance. To us, 2019 will be a year where we will expand and leverage on some of our success stories while, at the same time, looking for even better opportunities and also to achieve better results in terms of working on some of our programs and to getting into more community schools as well.

9. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Joseph.

Yaba: Thank you very much, Scott, and thank you for the opportunity.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] CEO, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA).

[2] Individual Publication Date: January 8, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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