The Great Lakes region, we consider Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC here, has a young population with the majority of people being under 30 years. Many young people are or have been following primary and secondary education and are exposed to the outside world more and more via mobile phones and television. Over the past 30 years this region has known some of the worst violent conflicts in Africa; young people have or are either witnessing this violence or grew up in its aftermath. In some areas young people are also the reservoir from which militias recruit new members.
Agriculture or ‘farming’ is by large the main occupation in the rural areas but land scarcity is a big problem and access to land for especially young people and women is limited. Because of small land sizes and low agricultural productivity, revenues from farming often do not suffice in providing for all household’s needs. Availability of other formal jobs is low. As a result many youth are un- or underemployed.
Students would like to explore questions around the aspirations of young people in rural areas versus the constraints they face and opportunities they encounter in real life. Studies would involve field work in one of these three countries with Rwanda as the most likely option. Research methodologies would ideally be based on a mixed methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative data collection tools and analysis but we are open to other suggestions.
We are looking for students from the social sciences (different disciplines) with an interest in agriculture and youth issues. Fluency in English and French is required and native speakers of any of the local languages in these areas are highly encouraged to apply. Students should be willing and able to work independently in rural areas for a minimum of 8 weeks.