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FAO's Integrated Country Approach (ICA) for promoting decent rural employment

The world is facing a global unemployment crisis. Young people, who have weaker links to the world of work than the general population, are particularly disadvantaged: their unemployment rate is almost three times higher than that of adults.

At the same time, there is a largely untapped reservoir of farm and non-farm employment opportunities in agriculture. This urgently calls for public and private sector cooperation to facilitate investments aimed at improving agricultural productivity and value chain efficiency, while engaging the youth. Agriculture and food systems development can be promoted in various ways. A key challenge is identifying what actions can be taken in a specific context to ensure that this development contributes to the creation of decent and productive employment opportunities for the youth.

Addressing the employment challenge requires more integrated approaches to agriculture and rural development. In particular, increased policy coherence is needed among agriculture, employment- and youth-related policies.

The role of FAO:

To orient its support, FAO developed an Integrated Country Approach (ICA) for promoting decent rural employment. The approach leverages a set of FAO's core functions, namely: policy and strategy advice, technical support and capacity development, knowledge generation, partnerships, as well as advocacy and communication. In depth scoping exercises are conducted in the inception phase of the Programme to better tailor the intervention to country demands and capacity development needs.

The entire approach is geared towards sustainable policy change and places emphasis on strengthening the capacities of national institutions responsible for agriculture and labour to promote decent rural employment, including through private-public partnerships and multi-stakeholder mechanisms. Also, the approach facilitates the collaboration among FAO and other UN Agencies, such as ILO or UNIDO. Gender equality and environmental sustainability are always mainstreamed as cross-cutting issues.

At country level, the approach aims in particular at enhancing the employment content of national strategies, policies and programmes for agricultural and rural development in order to optimize the contribution of the sector to improve the quantity as well as the quality of rural jobs. At the global and regional level, the approach contributes to develop and sharing knowledge, lessons learnt and good practices, as well as to influence regional and global initiatives on agricultural development.

As of today, the Integrated Country Approach has been implemented in two phases, both funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), through the FAO Multi-Partner Programme Support Mechanism (FMM):

  • first phase of the programme was implemented in Malawi and Tanzania, in the period 2011-2014. Based on participatory needs assessments, FAO facilitated the commitment of national stakeholders to a long-term employment theory of change, providing systematic support on decent work inclusion into the design of policies, strategies and programmes, such as the Tanzanian National Agricultural Policy (2013). In particular, technical support and capacity development was provided on youth employment and child labour prevention in agriculture. The first implementation of the approach enabled the definition and field-testing of different methodologies and tools, which will be collected into an online Toolbox, and the development of an Employment Policy Database available to all FAO staff.
  • The second implementation phase (2015-2017)targets SenegalUganda and Guatemala, applying and refining institutional mechanisms, methodologies and tools developed during the previous implementation. In particular, this second phase focuses on the youth as main target group. It also adopts more cost-effective methods for capacity development, such as e-learning methodologies.

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