Youth Employment and Migration in West Africa

This project aims to help West African nations develop policies based on a better understanding of why youth leave rural areas, and what economic activities they pursue in cities.

In rural parts of West Africa prone to drought, many young men and women move away because they lack decent job opportunities. Understanding more about labour markets in rural areas can help improve rural living standards. But that is only one side of the problem: equally important is research on the activities youth engage in when they move to cities, and on how labour markets work in the urban setting. This project will examine these issues as they affect both male and female youth.

One of the project's main goals is to develop profiles of the different experiences young men and women have in both rural and urban environments. As well, researchers aim to study the impact of out-migration on the rural economy, with a focus on its impact on women in the countryside and on land tenure issues.

Led by the Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale in Senegal and the Centre d'Études, de Documentation et de Recherches Économiques et Sociales in Burkina Faso, this project will analyze rural labour markets in both countries. Researchers will also investigate what drives productivity in the informal economy that youth often become part of when they move to cities.

Researchers will produce analyses for each country using advanced survey tools and secondary data. These reports will give policymakers options on how to improve the way rural labour markets function. Having new policy options may also feed into development of small-scale urban activities with better potential than those that currently exist.

Other outcomes of the work include scientific articles that partners will present at professional meetings, and a video.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, August 2, 2012

End Date

Thursday, March 12, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Mbiekop Ouahouo, Flaubert

Total funding

CA$ 732,400


Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, North of Sahara, South of Sahara


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Laurence Touré


Association de Recherche et de Formation en Enthropologie des Dynamiques Locales

Institution Country


Project Leader

Dr. Ibrahima Hathié


Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

LANKOANDE Gountiéni Damien


Université de Ouagadougou

Institution Country

Burkina Faso