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Decent Rural Employment

Youth mobility, food security and rural poverty reduction

Fostering rural diversification through enhanced youth employment and better labour mobility


Youth are highly mobile and represent the main share of migrants moving worldwide. Across Africa, the majority of young migrants originate from rural areas.
This is not surprising given that the vast majority of the region's poor and food secure live in those areas, most dependent on agriculture. Moreover, rural young women and men are increasingly migrating due to poor opportunities for themselves to make a living in agriculture. Finding gainful employment in agricultural sectors is hampered by low productivity, poor access to markets and lack of dynamism between farm and non-farm activities. Young people often lack access to land, credit, and inputs to start their own farms. If left unabated at its root causes, distress migration from Africa should be expected to increase dramatically. Innovative solutions are needed to make a tangible difference in addressing root causes of distress economic migration. Promoting viable employment opportunities for youth in farm and non-farm rural activities will have to be at the centre of any such solutions.

The role of FAO:

To respond to this challenge, FAO is implementing a 2 year-long project aimed at mitigating distress economic mobility in two countries, Tunisia and Ethiopia, with the support of the Italian Development Cooperation. The project will promote innovative mechanisms and rural development strategies with the objective of mitigating distress migration for rural youth through productive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture. 

In particular, the project strives to:

  • Improve the knowledge and awareness on how to harness the potential of migration and economic mobility to promote youth employment in agriculture.
  • Improve policy coherence to manage rural migration and facilitate opportunities for rural youth to find a decent employment or to start an entrepreneurial activity in agriculture in two selected countries, Tunisia and Ethiopia.

Both in Ethiopia and Tunisia, the agricultural and rural development is interrelated to migration flows and the lack of gainful and productive employment opportunities. Moreover, these two countries share youthful demographic profiles and similar challenges in ensuring employment and entrepreneurship development opportunities for rural youth. Innovative solutions are needed to address root causes of distress economic migration, especially among the rural youth.

The project will strengthen the national capacity of Ethiopia and Tunisia to prevent distress economic migration of youth. It will build the capacity of relevant stakeholders, mainly governments, producers' organizations and migrant networks, to leverage migration for development. Innovative mechanisms and partnerships to generate decent work opportunities for rural youth in agriculture will be supported. In both countries, FAO will partner with relevant Ministries and rural stakeholders, such as producers' organizations. Moreover, FAO will collaborate with other international organizations, such as ILO, IFAD and IOM.

Furthermore, at global level, the project will improve the understanding of the root causes of distress migration of rural youth, looking also at how structural transformation processes in agriculture and rural areas influence migration patterns, and how migration and remittances can contribute to rural poverty reduction and food security. Policy recommendations and lessons learnt from country level work will be shared for replication and scaling-up with relevant stakeholders and through global cooperation mechanisms, such as the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, and the Global Migration Group.