April 4, 2016
How do we plant seeds for the future?
A regional forum organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria, was held from the 14th to 18th March 2016 in Abuja - Nigeria to consider the lessons learned from IFAD projects in West and Central Africa regions with a particular focus on successful investments in rural youth.
During the five days forum: "Investing in Rural Youth: How we plant the seeds for the future?” focus was placed on successful investments that create opportunities for youth in rural areas. While the number of Rural Youth in Africa has increased, the situation is particularly serious in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in Western and Central Africa, where half of the population is under 25 years of age. With their innovative ideas and motivation, young women and men have a great potential to contribute to the well-being of their communities. But young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihood options in cities or abroad. The opportunities available to young women and men in rural areas are often restricted, and unemployment, underemployment, poor working conditions and exploitation are serious concerns. Young rural people are often involved in the informal sector and as unpaid family workers with no social protection and limited opportunities for advancement.
IFAD’s programme of work is increasingly reflecting the needs and views of young rural people. The youth agenda was at the center of discussions at the Regional Implementation Forum for IFAD-supported projects in West and Central Africa. In this context, PROCASUR represented by Ms. Viviana Sacco, was present at the event to participate in the Grant brainstorming sessions, where the programs, activities and results to be implemented in the region, including the new IFAD - PROCASUR Cross Regional Grant "Strengthening Capacities and tools to scale up and disseminate Innovations" involving IFAD 4 divisions (ESA, LAC, WCA and PTA) were exhibited. The forum included transverse and dynamic topics with a focus on issues of Security of Tenure of Land and Natural Resources Management, the creation of opportunities for rural youth; with a trans-regional discussion to ensure a global learning on topics of relevance to rural development.
Some of the insights and proposals from the forum on how youth inclusion will be increasingly mainstreamed in IFAD-funded projects were as follows:
Involving youth representatives in design, supervision and evaluation of IFAD-supported projects
Building capacities and skills
Improving access to assets, inputs, agri-services and finance
Promoting youth role models to make agriculture more attractive
Facilitating networking between young people
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