Arsène Koffi was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1990, in Sakassou, capital of the Baule kingdom in central Côte d’Ivoire.

The young man spent part of his childhood and adolescence with his grandparents. “My grandmother didn’t have any grandchildren with her, so she asked me to come and help her,” he says.

When he wasn’t at school, Arsène did all the chores his grandmother asked him to do: shopping, household work, and working in the fields…

Today, with a shaved head and bulging muscles, the young man now lives in Yopougon, Abidjan. He is the secretary general of the Unit for the Valorization of Plastic Waste of Yopougon, the most populated commune of Abidjan and the largest in Côte d’Ivoire. The “UVD”, as Arsène calls it, is a cooperative that collects the plastics that litter the streets and populates the lagoon in the city’s capital.

Ten years ago, Arsène could never have imagined becoming what he is today. Life had tested him, especially the armed conflict that tore Côte d’Ivoire apart in 2011. The war disrupted the lives of thousands of Ivorians – many leaving their villages – and obscured any prospect of a bright future for many young people. 

To better assist Côte d’Ivoire in its post-conflict reconstruction efforts, the African Development Fund funded and launched the Program to Support Social Inclusion and Cohesion (PARICS). The initiative provides youth, many of whom are ex-combatants, with skills training that will enable them to find employment and integrate into the workforce and civil society.

Arsène was lucky enough to benefit from this program. Without the African Development Fund program, “we wouldn’t have known where to go,” he says. “We had a hard time,” he admits. But to underline the progress made Arsène says, “Today, we live by our own means”.

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Source African Development Bank Group

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