As part of the CRP-GLDC background studies on youth strategy, qualitative studies were carried out in rural Tanzania among respondents of different ages (15 to 70 years old).  Through life histories and focus group discussions, the respondents were asked about their experiences at the point of transition from being children to adults, the period described as youth.  They were asked to describe ‘youth’ in their communities, based on their communities’ experiences.  The question of ‘who are the youth that are likely to end up staying in the drylands’ was discussed extensively in the FGDs.

For most countries and governments, the definition of youth is based on ‘age’.  The standard definition of youth internationally is also based on age, from 15 to 35 years of age.  United Nations define the youth as persons between the age of 15 to 24 years of age.  Age has therefore been a factor of delineation/targeting for youth programs.

Among the communities in rural Tanzania, the definition of the youth is dynamic and gendered described more by the transition process the boy or girl goes through and the persons that they become out of their lived experiences.  Culture and norms govern/guide the transition process as well as the opportunities, rights and privileges that are accorded the transitioning/transitioned boy or girl.  Although age is an important aspect of the transitioning process, it’s not the only marker.

Early findings show that boys have a longer period for transitioning.  From the age of 15 up to 40 years, as long as they are not married, boys can be described as youth.  Boys transition out of choice and decisions e.g. demonstrating capacities for independence in decision making, entrepreneurship as well as getting married.  When they do, communities will start accessing them resources like animals, farming land and tools among other enabling resources.  The young men will tend to migrate to the urban areas (rural marketing centres or bigger cities like Dar Es Salaam or Arusha) for varying periods of time, with a certain number raising ‘capital’ and coming back to the rural dryland areas to invest in farming and other businesses, while a some stay in the urban areas.  Attaining an education is a pathway towards exiting farming in the drylands.

On the other hand, girls have a much shorter transitioning period, which sometimes can be rapid and brutal if they get pregnant at an early age.  Getting a child is the automatic transitioning factor for a girl, whether they are married or not, inspite of the age at which they get a child.   Once they have a child, they are not ‘youth’ anymore and they can’t answer to the term ‘youth’ even when their age is within the ‘youth bracket’ according to the government/institutional definitions of youth.  Since land and farming resources are inherited through the male lineage, negotiating access to land and opportunities for farming. The young women, either as married women, or casual laborer’s or share croppers as have the highest probability of staying in the dryland farming.  They are most likely the high percentage of clients that the CRP GLDC has in the drylands of Sub Saharan Africa with the largest responsibility of closing the gap between food production and food demand in the coming years.

If they are, is the CRP-GLDC cognizant of needs of these young mothers today, in order to target them and enhance their capacities for enhancing rural livelihoods in the drylands now and in the future?  This was the question that the write shop on the She-Empower sought to deliberate on the last day of the CRP-GLDC write-shops.  Fifteen delegates from the CGIAR, NARS, NGO’s, Universities participated in the write-shop.  One of the key questions that was asked in the meeting was ‘do we have evidence of economic impacts/losses that justify country/GLDC investments on this issue? Even in a rough statistical based way?’ ‘Evidence generation’ was therefore identified as a natural first step in which the CRP-GLDC will investing time and resources on in 2020.  The title of the proposed project is HOME: Harnessing opportunities for young-mothers empowerment in dryland agriculture (HOME) is link to a webinar that was shared by the CRP-GLDC Gender team in December 2019 on the same topic.


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