Over one billion people in the world today live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in developing countries, particularly in rural areas of low-income countries in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the least developed countries. Poverty has various manifestations: hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion. It is also characterized by a lack of participation in decision-making and in civil and sociocultural life. Poverty is inseparably linked to lack of access to or loss of control over resources, including land, skills, knowledge, capital and social connections. Without those resources, people have limited access to institutions, markets, employment and public services. Young people are particularly affected by this situation.Therefore, specific measures are needed to address the juvenilization and feminization of poverty.
Hunger and malnutrition remain among the most serious and intractable threats to humanity, often preventing youth and children from taking part in society. Hunger is the result of many factors: mismanagement of food production and distribution; poor accessibility; maldistribution of financial resources; unwise exploitation of natural resources; unsustainable patterns of consumption; environmental pollution; natural and human-made disasters; conflicts between traditional and contemporary production systems; irrational population growth; and armed conflicts.
Proposals for Action
1. Making farming more rewarding and life in agricultural areas more attractive
Governments should enhance educational and cultural services and other incentives in rural areas to make them more attractive to young people. Experimental farming programmes directed towards young people should be initiated and extension services expanded to maintain improvements in agricultural production and marketing.
Local and national Governments, in cooperation with youth organizations, should organize cultural events that enhance exchanges between urban and rural youth. Youth organizations should be encouraged and assisted in organizing conventions and meetings in rural areas, with special efforts to enlist the cooperation of rural populations, including rural youth.
2. Skill training for income generation by young people
Governments, in cooperation with youth organizations, should develop training programmes for youth which improve methods of agricultural production and marketing. Training should be based on rural economic needs and the need to train young people in rural areas in techniques of food production and the achievement of food security. Attention should be given in such programmes to young women, youth retention in rural areas, youth returning to rural areas from the cities, young people with disabilities, refugee and migrant youth, displaced persons and street children, indigenous youth, youth returning from military service and youth living in areas of resolved conflicts.
3. Land grants for young people
Governments should provide grants of land to youth and youth organizations, supported by financial and technical assistance and training. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization are invited to document and disseminate information about national experience with land-grant and settlement schemes for use by Governments.
Governments, consistent with their rural development schemes and with the assistance of international organizations, as appropriate, are encouraged to work with volunteer youth organizations on projects which enhance and maintain the rural and urban environments.
4. Cooperation between urban and rural youth in food production and distribution
Non-governmental organizations should organize direct-marketing groups, including production and distribution cooperatives, to improve current marketing systems and to ensure that young farmers have access to them. The aim of such groups should be to reduce food shortages and losses from defective systems of food storage and transport to markets.