The project studies the performance of formalized youth group business groups in northern Ethiopia. These are part of a government strategy to create employment for landless and near landless rural youth. The youth businesses have been allocated rehabilitated communal land that they are required to protect. At the same time they are required to invest in a joint income-generating activity on the land. Such activities include forestry, livestock production, bee keeping, horticulture and irrigation. The youth businesses are established in a semi-arid climate and climate risk is a fundamental threat to their livelihoods and causes their businesses and investments to be risky. Risk assessment and management is therefore fundamental and necessary to succeed with the establishment of sustainable joint businesses.
The objective of the project is to assess how three different types of training can enhance the performance of the youth groups and the welfare of its members by implementing three Randomized Control Trials (RCTs): a) Group leader training; b) Female member empowerment training; and c) Risk management training. The RCTs are combined with a variety of lab-in-the-field experiments to get a deeper understanding of the relationship the treatments, behavior and outcomes.
A baseline census in 2016 identified 742 youth groups in five districts, with average group size of 19 members and about one third of the members were women. Each group has a board of five members with a leader and vice-leader. Most groups were established after 2011. A severe drought affected many of the groups in 2015-16.
We have carried out a new baseline survey and social experiments for 246 groups and 2430 youth group members in 2019. The pandemic and the civil war made it impossible to implement the planned training experiments. The corona pandemic forced us to stop the fieldwork in April 2020. The civil war started in November 2020 and is still ongoing. We hope for peace and to make another assessment of the situation of the youth's livelihood situation before the project ends. In the meanwhile we work on the analysis and publishing papers on the basis of already collected data.
The project involves researchers from Norwegian University of Life Sciences (project leader), Mekelle University in northern Ethiopia, Christian Michelsen Institute, Wageningen University (The Netherlands), University of Queensland (Australia), and Osnabrück University (Germany).
Youth unemployment is a growing challenge in many countries. It causes frustrations, social problems, growth in unwanted migration, and victimization of growing numbers of desperate youth. Youth employment is crucial to prevent many social problems such as slum development, increasing crime rates, social instability and recruitment to terror organizations. This project is of particular relevance for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 as it focuses on job creation of landless and jobless poor youth through an innovative public-private partnership model for formation of formal youth groups as livelihood businesses, and for SDG 5 as it focuses on empowerment of female youth in youth business groups.
The Ethiopian government has taken a pro-active stance through the mobilization and formalization of youth groups. Engaging youth in groups as environmental custodians (by granting them resources) as a formalized business option is the unique and innovative idea. Each group elects a board of five members, establishes its own bylaws, develops a business plan that has to be accepted by the local government, and is subject to regular auditing. This youth group model has been scaled up in Tigray Region in Ethiopia since 2011. This research aims to identify factors that determine the performance and sustainability of the formal groups as a business and livelihood option. A combination of repeated surveys, lab-in-the-field Experiments, randomized control trials (RCTs), and in-Depth qualitative studies will be used to draw policy-relevant lessons in a number of specific areas; (WP1) group leadership, leadership training, monitoring and incentives; (WP2) gender differences, and female group member empowerment training; (WP3) climate change awareness, shock exposure, climate risk awareness and preparedness training, preferences and investment behavior; (WP4) qualitative case studies; and (WP5) Synthesis and dissemination of findings