Food Coalition

Youth economic inclusion through decent rural employment

Young people are driving innovation in agri-food systems and have a key role to play in achieving global food security and nutrition. The current COVID-19 crisis has brought both new challenges and opportunities for young innovators working to transform the agriculture and food sectors. Prior to the crisis the NENA region already had youth unemployment rates of 22.5 percent (2019 ILO modeled estimates), nearly double the global youth unemployment rate. In the coming period, school to work transitions are expected to be prolonged especially for young women and youth unemployment will intensify as the economic slowdown manifests in fewer employment opportunities. Lack of asset ownership or social protection coverage for young men and women will drive up youth poverty rates, especially in rural areas. Rural youth are facing high rates of injuries on farms and agricultural settings: training youth on safe and sustainable agricultural practices and value chain is key to reduce child labour and promote an environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture. In addition, young entrepreneurs who have been paving the way for e-agriculture and innovation in the region with dynamic new ag-tech start-ups will come under intense pressure. With even less access to capital and a weak business environment, many ag-the and agri-food small and medium enterprises led by young people will not survive the downturn.

Rural youth across the region are in dire need of high-quality training and education opportunities that are linked to labour market demand. School-to-work transition for adolescents in rural areas is very challenging, between early involvement into precarious or exploitative work, and difficulties to secure a stable employment. For these young people, COVID-19 has been a huge blow. Due their relatively limited access to ICT infrastructure including broadband, smartphones and laptops a large portion of rural youth have been left out of online education and the booming digital economy. Unable to migrate, many young people and even under-age children have resorted to working in low-wage informal jobs, jeopardizing their long term prospects for economic inclusion and decent employment. Young women in rural areas are more likely to engage in unpaid labour and early marriage and face gender-based violence.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality
Level: Regional
Region: Near East and North Africa
Country: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, West Bank & Gaza Strip
Budget: USD 3 million


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