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Job creation for the youth through farmer climate resilient practices

Blog post by Simon Wandila, Social Reporter covering the Study Tour on “Coping with Climate Change through Livestock” in KwaZulu-Natal, from 26 – 28 October 2016

October 28, 2016

Not only does the exclusion of young people from the labour force extend generational cycles of poverty, it also disrupts social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of delinquency among the youth who are not in employment. 

Agriculture has the potential to create job opportunities for the youth. Various challenges obstruct the creation of decent jobs in agriculture. These include increasingly volatile food prices, decreasing yields because of climate change, the falling amount of arable land per person, and the increasing scarcity of water. In the midst of these challenges, there still remains hope. 

Youths inlineLocal youths working with the Goat Agribusiness project. © Simon Wandila

A programme to address youth unemployment

Unemployment is a general problem in Africa, and different stakeholders have to work together to address it. The Goat Agribusiness project is undertaken by partners, including the Heifer Project Southern Africa, Mdukatshani Rural Development Project, National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (South Africa) and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The objective of the project is to improve the food and income security of 2400 rural households in Jozini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Province, by supporting rural people to become self-employed small-scale farmers by May 2018.

Among other key components to this project, is the Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) programme, which is an example of a successful model. CAHW is a specially trained local community member who helps farmers to raise healthy animals to maximise their benefits. CAHWs have a range of tasks to perform, including providing basic preventive health care, training and advisory services. They provide regular household visits, and create a critical link between farmers, livestock associations, local government offices and state vets. The primary purpose of a CAHW programme is to help prevent animal mortality and disease outbreak while increasing productivity.

Solutions during dry periods

By the end of this 5 years' project, it has been estimated that 5 youth jobs will be created for a total of 700 microbusinesses, each managed by a Community Animal Health Worker. This translates to 3500 jobs for the youth. Some youths are already working at established dip tanks. The microbusiness activities at these dip tanks include making of energy and protein block for supplementary feeding of goats, skin and hay processing and animal health support.

With a severe drought affecting Jozini, feeding goats also became a challenge. The project recommends energy and protein block for supplementary feeding of goats. The ingredients include coarse salt, HPC concentrate 36%, maize meal, molasses (liquid) and white wash.

BlocksMaking energy and protein nutritional supplement blocks. © Simon Wandila

Youth involved in the programme

Makhosi and Mpu, are two local female youths. Their job at a local dip tank is to make nutritional supplement blocks. They narrate that CAHWs identified them since they were unemployed youths, and recruited them. They were taken through some informal training. They are provided with block making ingredients for free, by the project. They sell each block for 12 Rand (80 Euro cents). Each mix of ingredients produces about 39 blocks. This translates to an income of about 468 Rand (approximately 30 Euros) per mix of ingredients. After sales, this income is wholly earned by the block makers. These young female youths are thankful to the project for helping them to earn an income to support their basic needs.

This component of the project is a sustainable and recommendable model for replication. The model creates employment for the youth, while integrating them into the process of farmer climate resilient practices. Increased production at the farm level means more activities at the dip tank, and a result increased income for the youth. All players win. This experience is a clear example that youth play an important role in climate change resilience practices!

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About the author and the study tour

simon wandila

This blog post was written by Simon Wandila, digital marketing specialist from Zambia, who participated in the CTA-led Study Tour for Farmers on Coping with Climate Change through Livestock as a social reporter. The study tour enabled approximately 20 smallholder farmers in Southern Africa to learn from fellow farmers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The farmers in KZN hosted their counterparts, accommodated them in their own village for intensive interaction, and identified best management practices for livestock during drought, including the production of nutrient blocks and fabrication of the block-making tools as a job-creation mechanism for youth.