African Youth, Migration And Poverty

Young men and women in Africa migrate to cities to in search of better opportunities to escape poverty. These youth find themselves in vulnerable environments and are unprepared for the risks that await them in ill-equipped cities. Some cross boarders to other countries. These environments expose them to violent acts, theft, robbery, drug abuse and become susceptible to traffickers when basic needs cannot be met. Governments’ recognition of this trend is crucial as the youth represent the legacy of the past and the successes or failures of the future and must prioritize investments and programs in improved agricultural practices in order to expand young rural farmers and entrepreneurial capabilities to produce food and conserve the land’s natural resources while providing them with the technical skills and abilities. At the international level, youth unemployment and poverty is recognized as an urgent issue. This urgency is evidenced by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goal. This approach will provide governments with the opportunity to diminish youth migration and marginalization, as well as to reduce poverty
According World Bank (2009), approximately one person in two subsists on less than US $1.25 per day, with approximately 70 percent living in rural areas, 32 of the 48 poorest countries are located in Sub Saharan Africa, which is faces conflicts, undemocratic governments, and epidemics like HIV/AIDS.
The declining standard of living is further constrained by lack of quality and quantity of productive labor force due to youth migration. Africa and Uganda in particular cannot complete a demographic transition to improve socio-economic development on the continent.
The progress to provide adequate basic health care and education among youth are hampered by rapid population growth. In urban areas, this is reflected by higher levels of unemployment among young people than among other members of the labor force. In rural areas, youth experience higher levels of unemployment and underemployment due to fewer opportunities for labor productivity and rural incomes.
Most rural employment is in small-scale agriculture, where the traditional role of youth consists of unpaid farm work, rather than functioning as farmers in their own right. This is typically due to customary rules of land use, which limit access to land for rural youth. Even in countries with formal agricultural sectors, rural unemployment is rising. In Kenya, for example, rural youth unemployment has reached over 33 percent (Economic Report on Africa 2005). This collective effect has a direct impact on the ability for youth to break their cycle of poverty which forces the to look out for greener pastures else where and fall prey to traffickers for example.
Young women need special attention as gender disparities continue to impend girls such as early marriages. Often, there is limited access to educational programs that address their specific situations and needs that results high school drop outs, lack of relevant skillful labor force.
As a compounding factor, education can be cost prohibitive and sometimes viewed as unnecessary in an agricultural society that is dependent upon farm working. Therefore, most youth remain poor, three out
of every four live on less than US $2 per day lacking the resources and skills to be competitive (World Bank 2009).
Migration is not only a coping mechanism to escape poverty, it is an opportunity for rural young people to feel a sense of pride, self-respect, and be viewed as leaders within their family and their broader community. Young people view migration as an avenue to improve their status, learn new skills, and transit into adulthood. As a consequence, migration continues to serve as the means to improve rural livelihoods.
Youth are an integral component of the migrant population, both in terms of volume, and the effects they have on both their points of origin and destination. Estimates are that 15 percent (approximately 26 million) of the migrant population are youth (Touray 2006). Youth are particularly disadvantaged; with inadequately developed education and skills, many find limited employment opportunities in the cities. Most face a future of low-wage employment, unemployment, underemployment, poverty, drugs, and crime. The arrival of rural migrants worsens the situation by expanding the pool of young urban job seekers, which reduces the pressure on employers to offer competitive incomes and work standards to their workers.
Urban centers are becoming over crowded, putting pressure on insufficient infrastructures and other are risking it all to cross boarders like recent African migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea to Europe, middle East, where actually majority of Africans go in hope for a better life. This has created a new form of poverty in urban areas. More commonly, girls are exploited, influenced, poorly paid, and become sex slaves to pay for their basic needs.
With the rising incidence of poverty, crime, prostitution, violence, and exploitation, Africa’s migrating youth are in an age troubled with probable pressure exacerbated by ill-prepared and hasty urbanization. As a consequence, many rural migrants are no better off in the city than they were in their village. Life in the city has resulted in marginalization and lack of social exclusion.
In conclusion, to reduce the rate and negative consequences of rapid urbanization, policy efforts that empower and integrate rural youth into agricultural-based activities are necessary. If governments were to commit to this investment, the desire to migrate would diminish. Youth could evolve into agents of change with the capacity to improve their living standards, which is considered essential to promote sustainable rural livelihoods. The national governments in Africa need to provide rural youth with a means to stay in their communities. This can be accomplished by incorporating the youth into national development strategies that promote improved rural living standards in conjunction with national strategies that diminish the current rate of rural-urban migration For example, rural youth can generate increased agricultural production through an investment in innovative, eco-friendly planting practices, and post-harvest methods, a technology that is widely unrecognized. This type of infrastructure support, incentive, and land reform will help young people in rural areas fuel economic growth


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