Past Event

Youth Employment and Politics Seminars

Hard work and hazard: Youth and the rural economy in Africa

28 May 2021 14:00–15:30

In this webinar, distinguished panellists will discuss the content and policy implications of two publications about rural youth in Africa.

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The book ‘Hard work and Hazard. Youth and the rural economy in Africa’ edited by Dr. James Sumberg, is based on a multi-country, mixed-methods research programme in Africa that was funded by IFAD. Dr. Thomas Yeboah and Justin Flynn contributed chapters to the book and have written an evidence review for INCLUDE around the role of agricultural development in transforming Africa’s rural economies and in generating rural youth employment opportunities.

This panel discussion is co-hosted with INCLUDE

This webinar is the fifth event in our webinar series on youth in Africa and Middle East and North Africa region. The series is linked to the IDS Strategic Research Initiative ‘Ensuring decent work and inclusive politics for youth’ and is also part of IDS’ European Engagement Initiative.

The majority of young people in Africa are based in rural areas, despite trends in rural to urban migration. While the dominant discourse says ‘they want out’, for many youth engagement in farming is part of their aspirations – as long as they can farm in better conditions. The panel discussion centres on what life in rural areas is like, what youth aspire to, and the (gendered) barriers to fulfilling these aspirations. Issues such as education, gender, migration and ‘waithood’ are central to the debate.

The webinar will be relevant for academics, policy makers and practitioners working on youth employment and rural transformations, outlining key research questions and findings, and implications for future policy and practice.


  • Dr James Sumberg, Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Development Studies (IDS). An agriculturalist by training, his research has focused primarily on smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last decade this has included a particular interest in young people’s engagement in African rural economies.
  • Justin Flynn, Research Officer, Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Justin has a particular focus on young people living in rural areas. He also has interests in food security, food systems, and agricultural policy. Justin has ongoing and previous experience conducting research on policy responses to youth unemployment, including entrepreneurship.
  • Dr Thomas Yeboah, Research Fellow, Bureau of Integrated Rural Development Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.


  • Prof. Ben White, Emeritus Professor of Rural Sociology at the International Institute of Social Studies.
  • Nicole Sloot – Programme Manager of Agriterra’s Youth in Agribusiness Programme
  • Dr Barbara Crossouard – Reader in Education, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex



  • Dr. Marjoke Oosterom, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies (IDS)


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Key contacts

Marjoke Oosterom

Power and Popular Politics Cluster Lead

Rachel Dixon

Partnerships and Fundraising Officer

+44 (0)1273 915783


About this event

Programmes and centres
European Engagement Initiative

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