There is a wide consensus around the world that youth need and deserve special support. In 2014, 122 countries had a national youth policy or strategy; more than 40 per cent of countries in all regions had developed youth policies.
To be effective, policies and investments to help rural youth become prosperous adults must be tied into national and local strategies, policies and programmes. They also need to fit into sectoral programmes serving rural youth, such as health, education, agriculture and employment.
That requires sophisticated collaboration between institutions. A strategy or policy is no guarantee that rural youth are getting the help they need. Countries with large rural youth populations often have weak policies and poor capacity to deliver them. They also tend to have low levels of economic and rural development.
What works best for youth?
Youth-specific ministries should have a mandate to design a comprehensive rural youth agenda. The most effective youth programmes tackle youth challenges in an all-round way. They should include rural youth in their decision-making processes both during design and implementation.
A sound youth policy environment will maximise youth’s assets, their ability to shape their own destiny, and their access to services and opportunities. It will also help them avoid risks and help protect themselves. Policies and investments should be directed towards providing a wide range of rural opportunities, while promoting youth inclusion. Only then can rural youth both improve their own future prospects, and help build the prosperity of their societies.