Decent Rural Employment

A virtual discussion on the intersection between socio-economic conditions and youth radicalization in the G5 Sahel


"The Sahel is a place of opportunities, full of human, natural and cultural resources that are significant and abundant. The challenge is to harness these resources through public policies that can transform this potential into job creation, especially for youth living in rural areas."

On 17 February, during the launch event of the FAO-ODI study "The intersection between socio-economic conditions and youth radicalization in the G5 Sahel countries," Ambassador Yamdaogo Eric Tiare, Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, described the key assets of the Sahel region, and the main regional strategic programmes that are being designed to address youth unemployment, one of the major issues in the area.  

The event and the related study are part of the FAO project Building resilience in the Sahel Region through job creation for youth – Bridging the humanitarian-development nexus in the context of fragility, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The discussion, moderated by Rebecca Nadin, Director of Global Risk and Resilience programme at ODI, and opened on behalf of the FAO by Lauren Phillips, Deputy Director of the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division, aimed at presenting the results of the FAO-ODI study, convening a joint discussion among governments, intergovernmental organizations, academia and actors engaged in preventing and countering youth radicalization.

Through the analysis of over 50 studies on radicalisation in the Sahel and the evidence from programmes to counter and prevent violent extremism in the region, the FAO-ODI publication shows that the drivers of radicalisation in the Sahel are geographically specific and therefore need to be considered spatially, rather than aiming to produce a 'typical' profile of vulnerable youth. Based on this, the publication distils recommendations on how regional employment programmes can be tailored so that they contribute towards reducing radicalisation.

The launch event brought together experts on the topic, such as Leigh Mayhew, Coordinator of the research from the ODI side, Audu Bulama Bukarti, Senior Analyst from the Extremism Policy Unit at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Abdoutan Harouna, Socio-anthropologist and PHD Candidate at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and Laboratoire d'Etudes et de Recherche sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Développement Local (LASDEL), and Tamara Neskovic, Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

Following the presentation of the study, Tamara Neskovic pointed out that this detailed analysis of the available literature on the topic is crucial to plan interventions aimed at preventing youth radicalization. "An important step," said Ms Neskovic, "to create more holistic, effective and positive impactful activities."  

In his intervention, Bulama Bukarti emphasized that "radicalization in the Sahel and globally is context-specific, non-linear and fluid." This aspect was stressed also by Abdoutan Harouna, who highlighted the need to examine the specificity of radicalization at country and local level. "Radicalization is not something that is homogeneous”, Mr Harouna asserted. "Radicalization is often seen from an individual decision perspective, but the evidence shows that the reasons are normally attached to the community level."

The role of governments was highlighted by Mr Bukarti: "States can easily do better and we can stop human rights violations." "The sustainability of the actions taken is necessary and must be guaranteed by the State," said Mr Harouna.

Lauren Phillips affirmed FAO commitment to address youth radicalization and mentioned that "our project and, more broadly, the vision of the Organization considers youth not only as beneficiaries, but as partners and potential leaders in the process of building peace and sustainable development. Youth who become active members of their societies will help restore the social contract that has been eroded by insecurity."

The FAO-ODI research "The intersection between socio-economic conditions and youth radicalization in the G5 Sahel countries" can be accessed here.

The full event and discussions are available in French, English and Arabic on the ODI’s dedicated webpage