The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of the Dominican Republic signed a financing agreement yesterday that will support the implementation of the Productive Inclusion and Resilience of Poor Rural Youth Project (PRORURAL Joven). This rural development operation aims to improve opportunities for rural youth to access jobs and establish businesses, and to build resilience among them and their families to climate, social and economic shocks and stresses.
With a total investment of US$ 33.38 million, PRORURAL Joven will benefit around 27,000 households. The project is expected to improve opportunities for 18,600 young people (50 per cent women) to gain fruitful occupations (either by accessing jobs or as entrepreneurs) and to improve the resilience of 14,800 households with young members.
“The Dominican Republic’s economic performance and the Government’s social inclusion programmes have resulted in a significant reduction of the country’s poverty levels over the last few years. However, inequalities persist, with rural youth and women bearing the brunt. This project seeks to empower rural youth to be agents of change and to thrive through the employment and entrepreneurship opportunities they build in rural areas” said IFAD’s Country Director for the Dominican Republic, Maija Peltola.
Rural young people in the Dominican Republic face significant vulnerabilities. Their jobs tend to be part-time and poorly remunerated. They frequently cope with low levels of human capital, education and job training; scarce participation in decision-making processes; very limited access to land and financial services; negative perceptions about agricultural activities; and limited access to alternative economic activities or high-quality employment.
To counter these barriers, the project will heavily invest in building rural youth life and professional skills, relying on public-private partnerships.
Alongside these investments, the project will advocate for public policies that address the root causes of the challenges faced by rural youth. Training will be complemented with financial support to two types of business plans: group plans, focused on agricultural and livestock production and value addition initiatives, and micro-business plans, not necessarily related to agriculture. Innovation will be encouraged through technological initiatives that foster inclusion of the most vulnerable.
PRORURAL Joven and the recently started Rural Families’ Productive Inclusion and Resilience Project (PRORURAL Inclusivo y Resiliente) will be implemented by the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPyD) in collaboration with private sector actors and managed by a single team, which will create synergies between them.
These IFAD-funded projects will complement the Government’s social protection programmes like SUPÉRATE, allowing poor rural families to lift themselves out of poverty. Both projects will decisively contribute to advancing the Government’s National Development Strategy 2030 (END), and the Dominican authorities’ response to economic and human development setbacks attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project aims to improve the nutrition of young beneficiaries and address the alarming percentage increase of the population that is either overweight or obese, which has been on the rise for more than two decades (67% and 38% of women and 60% and 25% of men).
Since IFAD started its engagement with the Dominican Republic in the 1980s, the Fund has invested in 9 projects in the country with a total value of $312.36 million ($103.53 million from IFAD funds), benefitting more than 106,000 rural families.