Photo: Jörg Böthling


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Almost 88 per cent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth aged 15–24 live in developing countries – the majority of them in rural areas. This means a large number of young people with great potential and aspirations. However, they often face many constraints to achieving decent livelihoods. One particularly daunting challenge is the limited and low-quality employment opportunities available for rural youth. If something isn’t done here soon, this could have dire consequences. A call for action.

Developing countries are facing the great challenge of creating enough quality employment opportunities for new labour market entrants, particularly in rural areas. Globally, around 46 per cent of young people are rural, and in low-income countries this figure may rise to over 60 per cent (ILOSTAT, 2015). This means that in developing countries, most labour market entrants will come from rural areas in the coming years, where the agricultural sector is going to remain the backbone of the economy. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the youth population is expected to double to over 350 million people by 2050 (UNDESA, 2017), which implies that around 10 to 12 million new jobs will have to be created per year in the region to absorb the new labour market entrants. Yet, only around three million formal jobs are being created annually (AfDB, 2016).

Why is action needed?

The lack of employment opportunities for rural youth is contributing to the high levels of rural poverty.

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