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Ten things to know about rural youth in West and Central Africa

©IFAD/Jin Chung Kim

West and Central Africa is a youthful region. The African Union defines youth from 15-35 years old, forming over 35% of total population. By 2020, it is projected that 3 out of 4 people, will be on average 20 years old. (African Union).

In 2006, the African Union declared 1 November as Africa Youth Day and uses this occasion to remind African leaders to ratify the Africa Youth Charter. 16 countries out of 24 in West and Central Africa have ratified the Charter. ©IFAD/Nana Kofi Acquah
The youth literacy rate (15-24 years old) in the region is 67%. However, regional variations exist; the youth literacy rate in Cabo Verde and Gabon is 98% while in Niger, the literacy rate for young women is 23%, and 52% for young men. (UNICEF) ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
 
Rural girls and young women in the region are particularly marginalized with regard to education and training. In most countries, rural girls and women are less likely to be enrolled in school or a training programmes than their urban peers. ©IFAD/David Rose
 
The rates of vulnerable employment are high in West and Central Africa, particularly for young women. Across sub-Saharan Africa, only 21,4% of youth are wage and salaried workers while 62% of young people work on family farms. (ILO, 2013) ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
 
Youth poverty in the region is very high. In some countries like Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso, the percentages of young people living on less than US$ 2 per day reach 92,4%, 73,7% and 71,8% respectively. (World Youth Report, 2007) ©IFAD/Fabiana Formica
 
Rural poverty is one of the main drivers of youth migration. Across Africa, 30% of the total migrant population is under 20 years of age. The number of young internal migrants is several times higher, but the exact figure is unknown. (UNICEF, 2013) ©IFAD/David Rose
 
Many children aged 7-14 in West and Central Africa are engaged in some sort of work. Improving rural people's livelihoods and promoting education in rural areas are important factors in reducing child labour in the agricultural sector. (World Bank data) ©IFAD/Olivier Asselin
 
Food security is a serious concern in West and Central Africa, and malnutrition is widespread. In the Sahel countries, half of the child mortality is related to under-nutrition in children. (UNICEF) ©IFAD/Gerard Planchenault
 
Young rural people in West and Central Africa are often faced with a range of access gaps which constrain their productive potential. Access to land is one of the main challenges identified by young rural people in the region. (IFAD) ©IFAD/Sarah Morgan