ROME (IDN) – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have agreed to generate job and business opportunities for young people in rural Benin, Cameroon, Malawi, and Niger.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA) Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Assane Mayaki signed an agreement for the purpose on October 19. The project to be implemented with the help of a $4 million grant from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund seeks to foster policy dialogue among countries, regional organizations, development and resource partners.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. It includes contributions from Equatorial Guinea ($30 million), Angola ($10 million) and a symbolic contribution by civil society organizations in the Republic of the Congo.
Since its inception, the Fund has already provided financing for 16 projects in 38 countries including building resilience for conflict affected rural communities, reducing rural poverty through youth employment opportunities and building best practices to increase crop and livestock production.
NEPAD is an economic development programme of the African Union, adopted in 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia. It aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.
“This joint effort seeks to promote decent rural youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture and agribusiness, and it represents another important example of an African-led cooperation initiative that seeks to safeguard food security and livelihoods on the continent,” said Graziano da Silva.
NEPAD’s Mayaki added: “Attaining Africa’s Agenda 2063 aspirations to a large extent depends on the transformation of rural areas supported by capacitated young entrepreneurs along the food chain.”
Over the next three years, funds from the project will be used to ensure that young people, and especially women, have better access to the rural economy, which includes decent job creation in farming and non-farming sectors through public and private investments.
The project would enable Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger to adopt national action plans on youth employment and skills development for people in rural economic value chains.
FAO and NEPAD’s partnership also supports the 2014 Malabo Declaration, a promise by African Union leaders to achieve certain agricultural sector goals by 2025. Among these is a commitment to improve youth employment in Africa’s rural regions by 30 percent, especially by strengthening agricultural value chains. Another is to prioritize opportunities for women and rural youth.
The project launch comes just after the International Day of Rural Women, on which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need to secure rural women’s rights and opportunities in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 October 2016]
Photo: Women at work preparing the field for the next rainy season – Niger. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano
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