IFAD’s Rural Youth Innovation Award recognizes the key role that young people play in overcoming the impact of COVID-19 on rural communities

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IFAD’s Rural Youth Innovation Award recognizes the key role that young people play in overcoming the impact of COVID-19 on rural communities

Bogotá, 8 July 2021 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency, highlighted the value of innovative youth-led intiatives in helping the region’s rural communities overcome the effects of COVID-19 with the second edition of its Rural Youth Innovation Award.

Among those showcased is the enterprise TELESAN, winner of the connectivity solutions category for developing a telehealth platform connecting 27 healthcare centres in isolated rural communities in Honduras with national hospitals to obtain specialized medical care remotely.

Another example is the Energía Grata initiative, winner of the recycling and alternative energies category. This small enterprise uses solar energy to promote connectivity in rural areas in Colombia, where families can now charge, use and connect electrical devices such as cell phones, radios and televisions using renewable energies.

“Young people occupy a central place in IFAD’s agenda given their capacity for innovation, which is key to nurturing prosperity in rural areas. They make it possible to build dynamic, inclusive, sustainable and resilient rural communities that are able to withstand the effects of climate change or health crises such as the one we are now living through”, says Rossana Polastri, Regional Director for IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division.

The second edition of the Rural Youth Innovation Award attracted 131 applications from 15 countries in the region, and gave awards to nine innovative initiatives led by young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who competed in five categories:

  • Financial inclusion;
  • Recycling and alternative energies;
  • Connectivity solutions;
  • Women’s empowerment and gender inclusion;
  • Marketing and market access solutions.

The entries were evaluated by a technical panel of 29 experts from United Nations agencies, civil society organizations working in rural development and private enterprises. Winners were selected on the basis of criteria such as degree of innovation, results and impact in overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19 in rural areas, potential for replication or scaling up in other parts of the region and positive impact generated on vulnerable or historically excluded groups, especially women.

The nine winning initiatives will receive technical equipment and high-level vocational training offered by Universidad Ean. They will also benefit from media exposure for their initiatives and publication of their stories by IFAD and the United Nations system in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, CAMINNOS, the initiative with the highest score of all those presented, will receive funding from Fundación Alpina.

The awards ceremony for the second edition of the Rural Youth Innovation Award in Latin America and the Caribbean was held with reduced in-person participation at Universidad Ean in Bogotá, Colombia. Those present included Dr Brigitte Baptiste, Rector, and Julián Medina, Advisor to the Rural Public Goods Management Directorate of Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as young people who were finalists or prizewinners in the first and second editions.

The publication Caminos de innovación, or Paths to Innovation, was presented during the event – a compilation of stories about winning initiatives under the first edition of the Award.

The Rural Youth Innovation Award is a project by the Brasilia-based Centre for South-South Cooperation and Knowledge of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division. This initiative is part of IFAD’s effort to enhance activities specifically designed to promote rural youth training, empowerment and leadership development.

Note to editors:

For more information about the Award, including a full description of second edition winners, see: http://premiojovenrural.org/.

Both IFAD representatives and the winning organizations, associations and enterprises are available for interviews.

Press release IFAD/36/2021

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase their food security, improve their nutrition and build resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and specialized United Nations agency based in Rome, the United Nations food and agriculture hub.

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