President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, says the economic transformation of rural areas and the creation of jobs for millions of young rural people are pre-conditions to stability in the Sahel.
Gilbert F. Houngbo made this during the G7 ministerial meeting on development in Paris.
“There can be no stability where there is poverty, hunger and no opportunities for millions of marginalized young people,” said Houngbo, prior to the meeting.
In the Sahel, the number of young people is unprecedented, with over 60 per cent of the population below 25 years of age.
Two thirds of youth live in rural areas and are poorer and more often lack access to employment, skills, financial services and technology than adults. By 2050, it is projected that the number of young people aged 15-34 will increase by 46 million.
“If given the opportunity, young rural people can drive the economic development of their communities,” said Houngbo. “But we need the right policies and investments in place before they can have any hope of doing so.”
Today, the food sector is the backbone of the economy in the Sahel. It is the biggest employer and generates more than 80 per cent of employment in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Chad. Of these jobs, three quarters are in agriculture specifically.
According to IFAD, the growing global demand for food products, which is projected to increase 60 per cent by 2050, opens up opportunities for job creation, not only at the production level but at the processing, packaging, transportation, distribution and retail levels.
While in Paris, Houngbo will participate in the G7 working dinner focusing on the creation of decent work for young rural people in the rural areas of the Sahel. The dinner will be attended by G7 Development Ministers and Ministers from the G5 Sahel.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$20.9 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 483 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub. More about IFAD: www.ifad.org