21 Jun 2005

Asian Development Bank to help solve youth problems in Marshall Islands

10:27 am on 21 June 2005

The Asian Development Bank is expected to support a multi-million dollar loan to address youth-related problems in the Marshall Islands.

The bank's country officer for the Marshalls, Steve Pollard, says the youth situation is one of the greatest social concerns the country faces.

He says it is too early to say how the project being developed will be funded or at what level.

A three-member ADB-funded team has spent several months meeting with

urban and rural communities in the country since late last year, and has delivered a detailed report to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Among its conclusions, the report says school drop out rates are well over 50 percent, and the education system is not seen to adequately equip young people with life-skills and employment ability.

Youth unemployment is estimated at 80 percent and the Marshall Islands has the highest level of teenage pregnancy per capita in the entire Pacific and outreach programmes targeting high-risk young women are urgently needed.

It also notes that suicide rates per capita in the Marshalls were among the

highest in the world and urban crime is generally alcohol-related and committed by young men.