The UN highlights three pillars for the development of youths in rural areas: productivity, connectivity and empowerment
There are approximately 1.200 million young people in the world aged 15 to 24. Of these, 1,000 million live in developing countries and almost half of them live in rural areas according to the ‘Creating Opportunities for Rural Youth’ report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). According to this report, this growing group can generate a significant reduction in poverty, generate employment, as well as food and nutritional security. With their work in the rural areas of their countries, a new generation of entrepreneurs could arise thanks to policies that motivate their potential development.
One of the reasons put forward by this report is to broaden the horizons of young people living in rural areas as a result of the digital revolution in access to information and mass media. Consequently, their aspirations and decision-making potential have increased.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the combination of high birth rates and widespread poverty leads to a high and growing number of young people living in poverty and concentrated in rural areas with limited employment opportunities. This is a special problem. Therefore, what is the best way for these countries, among others, to invest in the future of their young people? The report notes that young people need access to finance that would enable them to invest in agricultural activities such as buying plots of land to meet the demand for fresh produce.
Although there is still a long way to go, rural youths prefer small changes that transform them into productive and connected people, capable of taking responsibility for their own future. Consequently, these elements are fundamental pillars for the development of young people in rural areas.
– Productivity: Governments must ensure that social structures and attitudes help rural youths to move forward rather than hold them back. This is particularly important in the case of young rural women, who are often left behind. In addition, the report found that governments should harmonize all aspects of the educational system. This will ensure that young people acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become more productive people.
– Capability: The skills young people have to become productive depend on several factors. On the one hand, the place where they live is of the utmost importance: many social and economic factors can facilitate or hinder their evolution. On the other hand, their productivity depends on their cognitive and non-cognitive skills.
– Connectivity: Better connectivity between people, markets, services, ideas and information offers young people in rural areas opportunities to become more productive people. When rural areas enjoy better links to markets through information and transport, opportunities increase for the entire population, especially youths. Greater connectivity also offers them a means to create and strengthen their social and human capital, develop skills and stimulate self-confidence. As a result, their ability to act improves and their productivity increases.
Compared to adults and youths in urban areas, rural youths are not as independent. This is especially true of young women, who may be constrained by the expectations of their families and society.
An effective policy and investment programme for rural youths must address these three mutually strengthening aspects, namely productivity, connectivity and capability for action, and identify the specific challenges young people face and then include policies and programmes to help them.