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Youth Environmental Service (YES)

Introduction and background

The dawn of the democracy in South Africa never brought with only the jubilation with all its freedoms but was faced with some major challenges on many fronts. One of the major challenges was that of growing patterns in youth unemployment which major socio-economic challenges. Though there has been a rigorous effort by the government in addressing this, due to the backlog over the years this proved a mammoth task to achieve hence a need to accelerate youth development and employ­ment initiatives by both government and the private sector. South Africa as a developing country requires a lot of skilled people to participate in the development of the economy. Statistics have shown that Youth in South Africa accounts for a greater number in population but the only challenge is the lack of the prerequisite skills to fully contribute in the economic growth and development of the country. This might be attributed to poor education, training and development, lack of exposure to work opportunities, work experience, social and psychological stresses as well as lack in patriotism.

n an attempt to curtail the problems mentioned above government initiated the Youth Service Programme as a Presidential programme in 2003. Its aim was to respond to the multiple needs of young people which enable them to access new opportunities for employment, income generation, skills development and personal development while contributing to the reconstruction of South Africa.

It prioritizes and targets young women, youth with disabilities, unemployed youth, out of school youth, youth in rural areas, youth at risk, youth heading households, youth in conflict with the law, youth abusing dependency – creating substances and youth being subjected to all forms of abuse.

The Youth Environmental Service Programme emphasises three pillars:

  • Community development / service
  • Accredited learning and skills development
  • Exit opportunities


In line with the above, the Department of Environmental Affairs introduced three (3) National Youth Service Pilot programmes which were implemented from 2008 – 2011. An evaluation study was conducted on these 3 projects and recommendations and lessons learnt were presented. From the lessons learnt the department estab­lished a new programme called the Youth Environmental Service. The vision, goals and objectives of the Youth Environmental Service are in line with the mandate and objectives of the Department of Environmental Affairs as well as the vision, goals and objectives of the National Youth Service. The mandate of the Department is based on clause 24 of the constitution which states, inter alia, that all South Africans have a constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Youth Environmental Service entails the involvement of unemployed young people in activities which provide environmental service that benefits the community whilst they are also provided with opportunities for personal development, accredited training and exit opportunities.

The environmental service involves bringing about solutions to environmental problems inclusive but not limited to erosion, waste, deforestation, biodiversity management, education and awareness etc. The environmental services should meet a community need, fit within departmental objectives, and add value to the beneficiaries’ development whilst providing employment, further training or self-employment by opening up business ventures as exit opportunities from the programme. Training should be conducted by a provider accredited by a Sector Education and Training Authourity (SETA) , Department of Education and Quality Council of Trade and Occupations (QCTO).

The Youth Environmental Service is not a special employment programme or a training programme but includes service and skills development. During the time of involvement in the YES programme the youth will receive an allowance.

Youth Environmental Service implementation model

The implementation of the Youth Environmental Service is comprised of the following stages:

  • Appointment of Implementing Agents by the department following the established procurement processes. The implementing agents should have expertise in the environment field. May be competent in ( Waste Management, biodiversity Management, Environmental Education, etc)
  • The identification of communities where the programme will be implemented should take into consideration the following factors:
    • Existence of environmental issues within the community.
    • The communities should disadvantaged or un-serviced communities
    • Willingness of the community to receive environmental service
    • Support by local government
    • Availability of young people to participate in the service
  • Business Plan development and evaluation Recruitment strategy
    • Training & personal development
    • Service Activities
    • Mentorship and
    • Placement strategy
  • Implementation of Projects Recruitment of youth to participate in the project
    • Implementation of training,
    • Service and
    • Placement activities
  • Monitoring of projects: Monthly reporting
    • Inspections
    • Audits (Annual and completion)
    • Evaluation of projects
    • Internal
    • External


Performance indicators for the YES programme

  • Number of youth registered on the Youth Environmental Service
  • Training Person days accumulated
  • Types of services rendered in the communities
  • Percentage of exit opportunities provided 




Minister Bomo Edna Molewa tables Environmental Affairs 2013/14 Budget Vote

The Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme will benefit 2700 young people over the next three years. Upon exiting the programme these young people will be placed in either permanent employment or further training institutions. Honourable members, we will launch this programme next month as part of our celebration of Youth and Environment Month.


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