Two young women sitting at a table with rice plants in front of them.
In education, cognitive skills are as important as technical skills.
Photo: Jörg Böthling.


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Nearly one billion of the world’s 1.2 billion youth aged 15 to 24 years live in developing countries, almost half of them in rural areas. What international development cooperation has to do to create employment opportunities for these young people was discussed at a joint event run by Germany’s Development Ministry and IFAD.

For a long time, rural youth – and rural areas in general – represented a niche topic in international cooperation. However, this has changed since the “G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment” was launched at the G20 Summit in Hamburg/Germany in July 2017. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) grasped the G20 Initiative as an opportunity to devote its 2019 Rural Development Report to the topic. The results of the report and their implications for international development cooperation were discussed at a joint event run by the IFAD and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Berlin/Germany.

The level of transformation matters

Paul Winters, Associate Vice-President of IFAD’s Strategy and Knowledge Department, presented some important facts and conclusions from the report. There are 500 million rural young people world-wide; if the semi-rural and peri-urban areas are included, the total even amounts to 780 million. Out of these, 20 per cent today live in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and 56 per cent in Asia and the Pacific; by 2050, 40 per cent are expected to be living in rural SSA Africa.

Generally, the majority of countries with large rural youth populations have a high rural poverty rate, depend heavily on agriculture and have the lowest capacity to deal with climate change.

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