Decent Rural Employment

Promoting youth employability in West Africa


At the request of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), FAO recently approved a new subregional Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) aiming at promoting youth employability in West Africa.

The project contributes to the implementation of the 2019 ECOWAS strategy for youth employability in the agricultural sector to face rural exodus and uncontrolled migration.  It will be implemented from February 2021 to January 2023 in Senegal, Togo, and Niger. In particular, the project aims to strengthen and replicate some of the successful models for youth employment that were tested under FAO’s Integrated Country Approach project for boosting decent jobs for youth in the agri-food system (ICA project), which will conclude its activities in Senegal in 2021.

In particular, the subregional TCP will complete the consolidation of the Modèle d’Insertion et d’installation des Jeunes Agripreneurs (MIJA), which was developed under the ICA project in Senegal. The MIJA is a model for sustainable rural incubation and service provision for youth agripreneurs. It has been developed by FAO in partnership with the Agence Nationale pour la Promotion de l’Emploi des Jeunes (ANPEJ). So far, 3 platforms have been made fully operational (in Mbilor, Leona and Silane) and a training package has been completed, including modules on horticulture, poultry farming, cattle fattening, aquaculture, horticulture, agricultural transformation, entrepreneurship and marketing. In 2020, 20 MIJA trainers have been selected and trained, as well as a cohort of 20 return migrants and 65 local youth beneficiaries.

In addition to further supporting the capacities of the recently established network of MIJA trainers and further boosting the digitalization of the MIJA model in Senegal, the subregional TCP aims to promote the MIJA approach in Togo and Niger.

In addition, the subregional project will also promote knowledge sharing on the Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture (YIYA) initiative, which was successfully implemented in Uganda under the ICA project. Following a successful first edition, phase two of the Youth Champions Initiative was launched in Uganda in 2020 by FAO, MAAIF, and the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development (MGLSD), with support from two youth organizations (YOFCHAN, UNYFA). The best 270 youth agripreneurs will be awarded at district and regional levels in 2021; following additional screening, 135 Youth Champions (50 % female) will be selected as national champions and receive training at the Uganda National Farmers Leadership Center (NFLC). The subregional TCP aims to promote this initiative also in the ECOWAS space, for its eventual replication.