Sustained Rural Youth Livelihoods

Source: IFAD (Ghana Rural Enterprises Project)

A livelihood is considered sustainable when it can cope or recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation (Chambers & Conway, 1992). Five elements that are related to this have been identified (Scoones, 1998). These include:

  • Livelihood strategies that create productive employment. This could be off-farm or part of a waged labour system or subsistence production.
  • The poverty level, which provides an indication of whether livelihoods are sustained or not.
  • The capabilities and well-being of people which relate to what people can do or be with their entitlements. It goes beyond human capital into the valued elements of capability or well-being such as happiness, self-esteem, stress etc.
  • Livelihood adaptation, vulnerability and resilience which explores the ability to recover from shocks. Those who are unable to cope will inevitably not achieve sustained livelihoods.
  • Natural resource base sustainability and rural livelihoods are dependent on natural resources to a certain degree. In Chambers & Conway (1992) it is noted that the ability for system to maintain productivity in the face of shocks makes it sustainable. This means that the conservation of natural resources is essential for livelihoods.

Continue reading “Sustained Rural Youth Livelihoods”

The Population Dynamics

Source: World Bank Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals

Demographic trends indicate that population increase will largely take place in developing countries. The United Nations population projections show that the world population of 7.2 billion in mid-2013 will increase by almost 1 billion people in the next 12 years (UNDESA, 2013). This will reach 8.1 billion by 2025, 9.6 billion by 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100. The additional 3.7 billion people will live in developing countries. They will be distributed among the population aged 15 to 59 (1.6 billion) and 60 or over (1.99 billion) (UNDESA, 2013).

Currently, the total world population is made up of 45 % residing in rural areas and 55 % in urban areas (WorldBank, 2017). In low-income countries, this figure represents 68 % residing in rural areas and 32 % in urban areas. A large part of this consists of young people. The population of young people in the world today aged 15 to 29 is over 1.8 billion, 87 % of whom are living in developing countries (Commonwealth, 2016). In Africa and across Asia, there is a growing population of young people comprised of adolescent and young adults (Yeboah, 2018).

Nearly 1 million people turn 18 every month in India (Yeboah, 2018). The population of young people aged 12 to 24 living in Africa is expected to rise by 28 %  in 2040, while the share of other regions is estimated to decline by a proportion of 17.6 % from 2010 to 13.5 % in 2050 (UNDESA, 2011). The regions of Asia and the Pacific is projected to have the steepest decline from 61 % in 2012 to 52 %  in 2040 (UNDESA, 2011)

The position of rural youth as a distinct group varies across regions and is subject to change over time (FAO, 2010a). While in East Africa the percentage of rural youth in 2005 was 16 %, the figure for South America in the same year was 3.4 % (FAO, 2010a). In most regions the proportion of rural youth has declined since 1950 and an even greater decline is anticipated for the future (IFAD, 2014e). Although the proportion of rural youth is decreasing, in terms of absolute numbers it will keep increasing until the mid-century (IFAD, 2014e). These demographic trends  highlight that youth will continue to constitute a high proportion of the rural population.

Implications of Climate Change on Rural Youth

Source: State of Israel Flickr

There are very few studies that highlight the impacts of climate change on rural youth. On the one end, this group tends to be submerged in the gender discussions, which while relevant, tend to overlook aspects that are specific to the social group. Hence, the limited studies on the implications of climate change on rural youth.

There is growing evidence that indicates changes in natural systems, these include  enlargements and increase in glacial lakes, changes in arctic ecosystems and increased discharge in glaciers and snow-fed rivers (IPCC,2014). The impacts of these changes will be felt throughout the natural and human systems. It is anticipated that these will affect agricultural systems on which most livelihoods are dependent on.

Agriculture and rural non-farm based activities have been deemed as harnessing untapped potential to absorb the millions looking for employment, particularly in regions with land scarcity issues (White, 2012). However, employment in agriculture in the developing regions of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean is declining for both young and adult workers (FAO, 2010a). This is mostly a result of low agricultural productivity that is due to unfavourable agro-ecological conditions, poor agricultural technologies, poor market access and lack of investment capital (FAO, 2010a). These conditions do not provide a favourable environment for rural youth to explore agriculture as a potential option for employment. With young people facing challenges of unemployment and underemployment, increased climate variability could result in  agriculture as potential livelihood option  becoming obsolete.

What Next? Unemployment?

As I journey through the final days of my MSc, I am reminded of the challenges of young people.

The global youth unemployment rate is estimated to rise slightly, reaching 13,1 % which represents 70.9 million young unemployed people (ILO, 2017). In Latin America and the Caribbean, the youth unemployment rate is expected to continue to increase, and it is forecasted to remain stable in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa (IFAD, 2014e)

Source: World Bank Group (The 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals)

The unemployment rates in rural areas are higher than in urban areas and youth unemployment rates are typically twice those of adults (White, 2012). Young people in rural areas are less likely to have contracted employment compared to their urban counterparts (ILO, 2017). This is due to the challenges that many workers in rural areas face. These challenges include: low pay, poor-quality jobs that are unrecognized and unprotected by law, widespread underemployment, the absence of rights at work, inadequate social protection and the lack of a representative voice (ILO, 2008).

Continue reading “What Next? Unemployment?”

Cycling through the end

Ciao Friends!












Its been a while since I posted and its all because I was cycling  through the research project.

If you have been following the development agenda, you will have noticed that mentions of youth have been sparking everywhere. This is because young people are still facing interlocked forms of discrimination, limited political inclusion, high levels of poverty, limited access to health systems, educational opportunities and decent jobs IFAD (2007). As we know young people are the ‘now’ and the ‘future’. It is essential that organisations such as IFAD align their investments to ensure that the livelihoods of young people are sustained.

A little update on my research. I have started working on producing results for my research project, where I was reviewing IFAD project documents and identifying areas of success in engaging rural youth and areas that can be further strengthened.  From what I have reviewed thus far, IFAD has made significant efforts in engaging youth through its investments. However, there is room for improvement.

That is all for now.



Young and ready to move

The Annual General Assembly of  the Global Donor Platform for rural development was held in Berlin on the 13 – 14 June 2018 . The event was titled “Young and ready to move- empowering the new generation in the rural space“.

Some of the key messages that emerged from the meeting:

  • Challenges that young people in rural areas face are interlinked and require systematic thinking to solve them
  • Donors need to generate an environment for private sector integration.
  • The use of social media can be effective to communicate valuable information to the young people.
  • Farmers need be to empowered in the changing world. Donors can support this by providing basic and technical education, enhance farmers’ capacities to learn, innovate and adapt.The  video  below provides some of the key messages that came from the meeting.

The  video  provides some of the key messages that came from  stakeholders at the meeting.

This meeting is useful to reinforce engagement and participation of rural youth at all levels. It was interesting to see how the event had several panel discussions that were inclusive of youth and provided a platform for exchange of knowledge and experiences.

What could youth- inclusive transformation entail?

Highlights on what a youth-inclusive transformation could entail:

      •  Addressing systematic challenges that constrain agricultural productivity growth – in doing so  opportunities to engage social groups esp. young people could emerge
      • Harnessing and maximizing strengths that young people may bring to the transformation process such as their affinity to use and engage in emerging technologies
      • Addressing specific institutional and systematic challenges that limit young people from accessing resources
      • Empowering youth to participate in the conversation to shape the solutions that are being addressed, to ensure their vision is integrated in the decision-making process
      • The Youth-livelihoods program from the Mastercard foundation highlihgted the holistic approach that is centred on addressing youth challenges while also integrating soft and hard skills and financial literacy.
      • Senegal Delegation outlined some funds that have been allocated creating an enabling environment for youth.

Watch this interesting discussion on youth-inclusive transformation and what other organisations are doing to engage young people.

Solid Research for Solid Programming

The exciting thing about working at IFAD is that there is always something exciting happening. Which provides an opportunity to learn and network.

Last week our division- Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion (ECG) hosted a change lecture titled: “Solid research for solid programming”. The lecture was co-organized with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the guests were:

Peter Läderach holds an Msc in Geography and a PhD in Tropical Agriculture. Peter is currently the theme leader for Climate Change at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Peter’s passion is conducting research that leads to visible impacts on the ground, that is why his research supports private sector, NGO’s, governments and multinational agencies to take evidence-based decisions and deliver impact on the ground.

Le Nghiem is a research associate in the field of ecosystem services and climate information services  Asia office in Hanoi, Vietnam. Le holds an MSc from the National University of Singapore and has broad research experience in the fields of climate risk vulnerability assessment in rural landscape, ecosystem services modelling, and sustainable consumption. She has authored 10 research papers in peer reviewed journals.

The lecture was on determining how Agriculture Research for Development (AR4D) efforts effectively support IFAD’s programming needs.

What stood out for me in the lecture were the strategies used to engage with the private sector, these included:

  1. Development of new enterprises/support to start-up businesses to be run by capable individuals or farmer groups in the community
  2. The enhancement of existing micro-small-medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)
  3. Leverage investment of non-MSMEs
  4. Leverage resources from microfinance institutions (MFIs) and Commercial banks

It is interesting how IFAD investments plays a role in helping large private corporations direct their investments in a way that enhances inclusive development of rural communities. These engagement strategies are also helpful in defining strategies to engage rural communities.  The study was  published in The Business Advantage which provides further details on the findings.

Youth – Who are they?

There is growing need to engage youth across sectors. Ensuring that their voices are heard, skills and expertise valued. But who exactly is targeted when you refer to youth?

Literature highlights that, there is no clear definition on what constitute youth. In some countries, youth comprises of individuals in the age between 12 and 35 (Leavy & Smith, 2010) , while in other countries, it is from the age of  8 years to 35 (FAO, 2002). The United Nations considers youth to encompass the people between the age of 15 and 24, whereas the African Union considers youth to be from the age of 15 to 35 years of age.

Adolescence is the period from the start of puberty until physical and emotional maturity is reached. ‘Adolescents’ are a group that is asserted in the definition of youth. In general, young people are described as a group of people in the transition during which children and adolescents gradually become recognised as adults – the intermediary between childhood and adulthood. However, defining youth goes beyond age, they are a heterogeneous group (IFAD, 2007). Youth are a diverse group of individuals, with different experiences, drivers, aspirations, challenges which essentially leads to their varied ideas . While there is this difference, there is also a class difference among youth – the rural and urban youth.

Thus, the varying ages, gender, employment status, skills and capacities mean that their livelihood options will be different and projects targeting youth will need to account for this.


When Change Adaptation Goes Wrong

“Adaptation  done well, cuts across all sectors” – Benjamin Sovacool

I attended a change lecture last week titled: When Climate Change Adaptation goes wrong: A case study for Bangladesh. The Lecture was presented by Prof Benjamin Sovacool from the University of Sussex. The lecture presented best options to adapt to climate change, taking into account the current options in Bangladesh.

Benjamin presented the four E’s approach from a study that they conducted – Bamboo Beating Bandit . The four E’s are: Enclosure, Exclusion, Encroachment, and Entrenchment, these are the processes that hinder adaptation efforts in Bangladesh. Enclosure is the process in which public assets are privatized; exclusion refers to limitations in access resources and participating in decision-making processes; encroachment refers to the damaging of natural resources such as biodiversity rich areas; and entrenchment is based on inequalities or efforts that lead to dis-empowerment of women or minorities. Continue reading “When Change Adaptation Goes Wrong”