Youth Employment and Its Connection With Climate Action and Food Security
In Africa, the world sees the most rapid population growth. It is concurrently experiencing a youth bulge – an expanding population of tech-savvy, well-educated, job-ready 18-35-year-olds. With 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population on the planet. Current trends indicate that this figure will double by 2045.
In some cases, a growing youth population is a positive indication that a country is developing. It can be beneficial, as long as the majority of youth is sufficiently employed and contributes to the economy. However, employment can be difficult to find when the job seekers are many and the options are uncertain.
Most African regions are experiencing this ticking time bomb at the country level. The growing youth population and a stagnant job market in most countries correlate with a bleak employment outlook. More than 60% of the unemployed are under 35. The limited options do not appear to discriminate. Youth are simply trying to find a place for themselves, wherever they qualify, whether it is urban, rural, business or farming. Agricultural livelihoods are vital to almost all African countries, with much of the region’s GDP dependent on agriculture and with arable lands prime for both subsistence and commercial farmers. However, this relationship to agriculture can be risky; in times of success, it provides employment and food security, and in times of misfortune, it contributes to pervasive poverty and malnutrition. In Africa a huge portion of the workforce is to be found in the agricultural sector, contributing relevantly to the countries GDPs, despite only
Agricultural livelihoods are vital to almost all African countries, with much of the region’s GDP dependent on agriculture and with arable lands prime for both subsistence and commercial farmers. However, this relationship to agriculture can be risky. In times of success, it provides employment and food security, and in times of misfortune, it leaves people in pervasive poverty and malnutrition.
In Africa a huge portion of the labour force works in the agricultural sector, contributing substantially to the countries’ GDPs, despite only a few portions of the lands being arable. Although farming is a common livelihood, it is a risky one, with climate change as one of the contributing factors. Farmers in most of Africa are heavily dependent on rainfall, and therefore highly vulnerable to inconsistent weather events, such as droughts, floods, intense heat, and severe cold. Such extremities and uncertainties have a negative impact on agriculture, thwarting the involvement of young people. The status of a burgeoning youth population in Africa, precarious employment
The status of a burgeoning youth population in Africa, precarious employment opportunities and the alteration of traditional agricultural practices in the face of climate change has prompted the need to explore the role of youth in adaptive farming practices — specifically, the extent of their decision-making power in agricultural adaptations to climate change.
Putting emphasis on existing experiences and information exchange the working group on Climate Change, Livelihood and Natural Resources Management of SNRD Africa will render more practical the importance of youth employment, climate action and food security whilst working on three subthemes:
- Enhancing benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Climate Change Adaptation
- Land tenure, Forest Landscape Restoration and Wood Energy
Thoughts taken from the Climate Change, Livelihood and Natural Resources Management working group meeting at the SNRD conference in Pretoria, South Africa.
By Andreas Schleenbäcker
Co-Speaker WG CCLNRM/Co-Speaker SNRD Africa