Kenya’s Youth Agricultural Livelihoods and the Land–Water–Environment Nexus

Working Paper
  • Published 19/12/19

Kenyan youth have started to embrace agriculture as a viable livelihood source following a decade of the ‘youth-in-agriculture’ narrative that promotes, among other things, agribusiness as a viable youth employment opportunity. Among the multiple framings employed by this narrative is the proposition that pathways involving agriculture can generate livelihood options for young people, while also having the possibility of greening these livelihoods. This paper elucidates the extent to which the proposition for greening youth livelihoods is plausible by examining how young farmers navigate the land–water–environment nexus. The main question addressed here is ‘to what extent does the land–water–environment nexus influence (and, indeed, is influenced by) youth agricultural livelihoods?’

The paper contributes to a growing body of knowledge on the intersections of youth livelihoods and natural resources governance. By elucidating how resource constraints intersect with youth livelihoods, the paper offers a nuanced understanding of the opportunity space for meaningful youth livelihoods in line with transforming African agriculture. The paper’s focus on young people already engaged in agriculture focuses on an often neglected yet significant question on the sustainability of youth livelihoods. Importantly, the findings emphasize emphasise that youth livelihoods are deeply entrenched in natural resources governance and, hence, that there is a need to conduct further analysis of the complex intersections of youth employment and the resources nexus.

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BLOG: What can the land-water-environment ‘nexus’ do for young farmers in Kenya?

PROJECT: Governing the Land-Water-Environment Nexus in Southern Africa