Italy: IFAD says rural transformation key to reversing youth migration from East, Southern Africa

Rome, Italy (PANA) - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Madagascar will bring policy makers and development practitioners together from 10-13 November in Antananarivo, capital of the Indian Ocean island, to discuss innovative approaches to transforming poor rural communities.

During the four-day workshop participants will review the implementation of IFAD-funded projects and programmes in East and Southern Africa, share development-related experiences and lessons learnt, identify challenges faced during implementation of rural development interventions and pave the way to further advance rural development and agriculture-related activities, IFAD said on Thursday.

More than 200 participants, including representatives of IFAD-funded projects, government, development agencies, United Nations agencies, the private sector, as well as members of civil society and farmers’ organizations, are expected to attend.

Malagasy President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the country's Minister of Agriculture, Roland Ravatomanga; IFAD Vice President Michel Mordasini and IFAD Regional Director for the East and Southern Africa Division, Sana F.K. Jatta, will open the workshop on 10 November.

"Considering that today more than ever, the international community is faced with the challenge of migrants leaving their homelands for a better life abroad, the workshop will place special emphasis on raising awareness of the impact that sustainable economic activities can have in reducing migration from rural communities in Africa," said IFAD.

According to the Rome-based international financial institution and a specialized UN agency, when opportunities are limited or when basic survival is at risk, people, in particular young people, start to migrate from rural areas to cities or across borders in search of a better life.

On that account, it explained that the workshop woukd explore the range of attractive employment options that would help channel the energy and creativity of young people into reviving their communities.

“Investment in agriculture in Africa, in particular in East and Southern Africa must focus on creating a dynamic smallholder sector," said Jatta.  "A vibrant rural sector generates local demand for locally produced goods and services and can spur sustainable non-farm employment growth. This is crucial for rural employment, without which poor rural young people will be driven away from their communities in search of work in the cities or abroad.”

To meet this challenge, Jatta added that forging partnerships was key for IFAD’s work.

"We believe that responsible private-sector in particular African private sector engagement is an essential element in optimizing economic opportunities in rural areas,” he emphasised.

As of June 2015, IFAD had 48 ongoing programmes and projects in 17 countries in East and Southern Africa totalling US$1,395.0 million of IFAD investments in the region’s ongoing portfolio.

Since 1979, IFAD has financed 15 rural development programmes and projects in Madagascar for a total cost of US$624.4 million with US$265.5 million of its own resource benefiting directly 694,600 households.
-0- PANA AR/MA 5Nov2015

05 november 2015 10:30:06

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