Voices 59

April 2001

Young people – a force in the fight against hunger

Never before have so many young people been alive at one time. More than one billion youth (aged 15 to 24) live in the world today; almost half of them in rural areas of developing countries. More than 250 million working children and adolescents are employed in agriculture. They tend the fields, work in kitchen gardens and look after livestock.

Young people are a formidable resource in the fight against hunger. They bring force and energy to our struggle, and can be major contributors to the overall progress of a country. But do we value the contribution of our young people to our food security?

In rural areas as in urban areas, youth face disease, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, unsafe work environments, social exclusion, and limited opportunities for education and employment. Many choose to leave their rural homes in search of a better life. They are attracted by “city lights” and they hold agriculture, which they equate with hard work, low income and poor opportunities, in low esteem. Their desertion compromises rural food security.

Our challenge is to involve youth as active partners in food security and agricultural production. We must do this by overcoming constraints such as lack of land, access to credit, and lack of education and training for both farm and non-farm activities; by providing income-generating activites in rural areas, and access to agricultural extension and other support services.

How can we persuade our young people that there is a future for them in agriculture and rural communities?

  • We can use radio to highlight the efforts, sacrifices and successes of young people in rural areas.
  • Our radio programs can reinforce family and community ties. Programs that help young people value the experience of their elders, and help elders to understand young people’s desire for change, benefit entire communities.
  • Through radio, we can provide practical information about agricultural techniques and rural services for youth, including indentifying resources so that they can find ways to finance their activities.
  • Including the voices of our youth on air helps them to acquire communication and leadership skills, which build their capacity to vitalize community groups.
  • Radio programs for and involving young people help them to identify their needs and bring these to the attention of public authorities.
  • Young people can use radio as a way to create their own networks to facilitate cooperation and exchange of information and experience amongst themselves locally, nationally or even between regions.

Let us hope that young people will use our radio programs to make themselves heard in their own words; that they will learn from the information and exchange we provide; and that our programs will support their efforts to see a future free from hunger.

All statistics from FAO.

International workshop recommends farm radio networks

Sixty farm radio broadcasters and others who work to support farm radio met recently at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome for the First International Workshop of Farm Radio Broadcasters.

Demonstrating its commitment to rural radio as a key component of its development strategy, FAO organized the workshop to explore the potential to use information communication technology (primarily Internet) to develop new content and new partnerships for rural radio. In a series of presentations, panel discussions and working group sessions, participants shared experiences on approaches and lessons to disseminate knowledge and to support rural development.

Nancy Bennett, Executive Director of Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, provided an overview of how networks are key to sustainable development.

Rural radio representatives learned about FAO’s impressive collection of agriculture research data and other information, including detailed market and weather information – all available on their vast web site (www.fao.org). Of course, most farmers are not able to access this information and use it to their benefit. Enter rural radio.

But broadcasters and radio trainers at the workshop, who had travelled from many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, expressed their need for more training, funding and other support if they are to be partners in making information available to farmers. Hence, the need for new partnerships.

While some participants explored new strategies for North-South collaboration, more emphasized South-South partnerships, especially local and regional networks that bring together agriculture experts, community development organizations, and radio – public, private and community broadcasters. The recommendation: support for new and existing networks that capitalize on member/partner expertise and provide opportunities for exchange and mutual benefit.

For partners of our Network, this will not be news. (See “Our partners help us set new directions” in Voices, No. 58, January 2001.) But it is encouraging to see our strategy reaffirmed, and we hope that the recommendations of workshop participants will bring new support to Network activities and our partners’ efforts to promote rural development.

International Youth Day

The second International Youth Day will be celebrated on August 12th this year as part of the fourth session of the United Nations World Youth Forum. The Forum takes place from August 5 to 12 in Dakar, Senegal, with the theme, “Empowering Youth for Action.

International Youth Day promotes awareness of issues that affect young people at regional, national and global levels, and encourages the full participation of youth in life and in decision-making. Young people, defined by the United Nations as the age group between 15 and 24 years, make up one sixth of the world’s population. As the leaders of tomorrow, they must be involved in shaping the world they will live in as adults.

Empowering youth means giving them the capacity as individuals, youth organizations, communities, nations and international actors, to influence and make decisions that affect their life and well-being.

On August 12th this year, celebrate the contribution that youth make in your community. Interview young people to find out what issues affect them. Invite them to participate in your radio broadcasts. Empower them to make their voices heard.

For more information about International Youth Day and the World Youth Forum, contact:

United Nations Youth Unit
Division for Social Policy and Development
DC2-1318, United Nations
New York 10017, USA.
Tel: 212-963-1380
Fax: 212-963-3062
Web site: https://social.desa.un.org/issues/youth

Study shows sustainable farming methods reduced damage caused by Hurricane Mitch

A recent study conducted by World Neighbours showed that alternative farming methods prevented the worst damage caused by Hurricane Mitch on thousands of farms in Central America two years ago. The results were obtained from a study project that included two thousand farmers and local organizations. The study found that:

  • plots farmed using sustainable methods were able to withstand the force of the hurricane better than conventionally farmed plots
  • sustainably farmed plots had 28-38% more topsoil and 3-15% more moisture
  • surface erosion was two to three times greater on conventional plots
  • damage from gullies and landslides was severe on both types of farm plots, although many gullies and landslides originated uphill or upstream on poorly managed, degraded or deforested slopes.

Lessons learned from the study show that sustainable farming methods should be promoted to improve resistance of farming plots to natural disasters. As well, steeply sloping lands may be better left uncultivated and protected as forests.

World Neighbours works with rural populations in 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to find practical and sustainable ways to improve lives and communities. Program priorities are food production, reproductive health and family planning, environmental conservation, water and sanitation, and small business.

Their newsletter, World Neighbours in Action, is published twice a year in English, French and Spanish, and is available free of charge to development program workers in developing countries.

World Neighbours
4127 NW 122 Street, Oklahoma City, OK
73120-8869 USA
Tel: 405-752-9700
Fax: 405-752-9393
E-mail: info@wn.org
Web site: www.wn.org

Partner Profile: The Community Food Conservation Project, Cuba

Every square inch of unpaved land around the office headquarters of the Community Food Conservation Project of Cuba (El Colectivo del Proyecto Comunitario de Conservation de Alimentos de Cuba) is planted with vegetables and herbs.

Inside, Farm Radio Network partner and director of the Project, Dr. Vilda Figueroa, and her husband, Jose Pepe Lama, P.Eng., arrange workshops on how to preserve vegetables, condiments and medicinal herbs. On the shelves of their demonstration kitchen you will find 160 carefully home-preserved products.

In Cuba, it’s not just rural dwellers who need to know how to preserve food after harvest. Cuba has a booming urban agriculture sector. In the capital of Havana, residents are able to grow a large percentage of their vegetables in community gardens in vacant lots, schoolyards, parks and by the roadside. And any produce that cannot be consumed fresh, must be stored or preserved for use throughout the year.

By using radio, Vilda is able to reach even those who can’t attend a food preservation workshop at the project office. She records radio programs about food preservation techniques – for example, how to build and use a solar drier – and distributes them to radio stations.

Radio Havana, as well as other stations on the island, regularly broadcast her recorded programs. In total, Vilda has a radio audience of 1½ million people country wide. In addition, she records television programs and video cassettes. Many health workers use her audio cassettes to educate their clients in rural communities.

The role of food storage and preservation in ensuring food security for any population should not be underestimated. Through workshops, print media, television, and of course radio, Vilda Figueroa and the Community Food Conservation Project of Cuba, are getting this message across.

This article is based on an interview with Farm Radio Network Founding Director, George Atkins. Dr. Atkins visited Vilda in Havana in December 2000.

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you very much for sending package 57 [Women are key to rural development]. Script 3 on micro-credit was very timely, because the new political party is offering micro-credit to small-scale farmers. We already have a group of ten women who borrowed money to start growing mushrooms.

Thank you again.

Adela Oliveros
Fundación para la Educación
RORAC, Mexico

Your input is important to us!

We are looking for contributions for an upcoming package on HIV/AIDS. AIDS is a serious threat to household food security in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, as it rapidly spreads into even the remotest villages. Education is key to reducing the spread of AIDS worldwide. And community radio has a vital role to play in delivering accurate and timely information.

Please let us know if you have radio programs on HIV and AIDS to share with other Network members, or if there is specific information about HIV/AIDS that you would like to receive in our quarterly package, or if you would like to contribute an article, or information about your organization, to the Voices newsletter.

Send your contributions or comments to us – via E-mail, fax or regular mail – by August 1st.

Rural radio resource

A Thousand and One Worlds – A Rural Radio Handbook
by Francois Querre

This handbook is based on using people-centred broadcasting to integrate radio with participatory development. It is aimed at the broadcaster, often a combination of reporter, motivator, writer, director and producer. The method incorporates discussion, interviews and games in the field, to address rural problems.

Available in English and French from:

Food and Agriculture Organization
Communication for Development Research
Extension and Training Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100
Rome Italy

Youth Resources

Rural Youth, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO aims to empower rural young people to take an active role in sustainable agriculture and rural development. The FAO achieves this by strengthening and expanding existing government and non-government rural youth programmes and establishing new ones that enable girls and boys, and young women and men, to become productive and contributing members of their local communities.

FAO publishes YouthWorks, a newsletter for professional youth workers around the world. Available in English, French and Spanish from:

Rural Youth Officer, Extension
Education and Communication Service
Sustainable Development Department, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100
Rome, Italy
E-mail: rural-youth@fao.org
Web site: https://www.fao.org/rural-youth/en

International Youth Foundation (IYF)

The International Youth Foundation is an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to the development of youth and children throughout the world. IYF works with national foundations and organizations in 31 countries to identify effective programs that help young people connect to their families, peers, and communities. IYF also works to increase global awareness of children and youth issues.

Partner Organizations

11, Community Centre, Ground Floor
Saket, New Delhi – 110 007 India
Tel: 91-11-653-3520
Fax: 91-11-653-3525
E-mail: yrd@ysnl.com

Children and Youth Foundation of the Philippines (CYFP)
Ground Floor, Tuloy Center Bldg. 1
Don Bosca Parish, Arnaiz Avenue
1252 Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel: (63 2) 750-2215
Fax: (63 2) 750-2219
E-mail: CYFP@globe.com.ph
Web site: www.fillib.org.ph/cyfpM

South Africa:
Youth Development Trust
PO Box 214, Florida Hills 1716
Republic of South Africa
Tel: (27 11) 472-4594
Fax: (27 11) 472-4597
E-mail: info@ydt.co.za
Web site: www.ydt.co.za

Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP)
The Commonwealth Youth Programme provides a wide range of programs and activities which address the needs and concerns of young men and women in the 53 Commonwealth Countries. The Programme’s Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative aims to reduce youth unemployment by improving business skills among young entrepreneurs; enabling young people to gain access to credit without collateral; and encouraging individual and group savings. The Initiative targets young men and women between 18 and 30.


CYP Pan-Commonwealth Office


Gender and Youth Affairs Division
Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1 5HX England
Tel: 44 (0) 171-839- 3411
Fax: 44 (0) 171-747-6549
E-mail: cyp@commonwealth.int

Regional Centres

CYP Caribbean Centre
PO Box 101063, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel: +592 2 68565
Fax: +592 2 68371
E-mail: cyp-car@solutions2000.net

CYP South Pacific Centre
PO Box 1681, Honiara, Solomon Islands
Tel: +677 39229
Fax: +677 39230
E-mail: cyp@welkam.solomon.com.sb

CYP Africa Centre
PO Box 30190, Lusaka, Zambia
Tel: 260 1 252733
Fax: 260 1 253698
E-mail: cypac@zamnet.zm

CYP Asia Centre
PO Box 78, Chandigarh, India
Tel: 91-172-541482
Fax: 91-172-545426
E-mail: cypasia.chd@rmm.sprintrpg.ems.vsnl

UNICEF Voices of Youth
Interactive Youth website: https://www.voicesofyouth.org/

Available in English, French and Spanish.