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Agriculture and Rural Development

5 facts about jobs and economic transformation in IDA countries

Dino Leonardo Merotto's picture
Economies grow when more people find work, when they get better at what they do, and when they move from low-productivity work to better, more productive jobs. Photo: World Bank

What are the pathways people follow to better jobs? Economies grow when more people find work, when they get better at what they do, and when they move from low-productivity work to better, higher-productivity jobs. Our newest report `Pathways to better jobs in IDA countries’ takes a closer look at how people benefit through jobs in the process of development. It identifies how the available jobs change with economic transformation and shows how the structure of labor markets differs between low, lower-middle, and middle-income countries. It points to key challenges in ensuring that workers can transition between sectors, between locations, and between self- and waged employment.

The study uncovers many findings, some familiar, some new. These will be featured in more detail in future blogs. Meanwhile, here are five important facts drawn from this extensive research, which combines data from over 16,000 episodes of real GDP growth, labor supply information for over 140 countries, and firm-level analysis from Jobs Diagnostics.

Rising with rice in Côte d’Ivoire 3: The contours of a pilot project

Raphaela Karlen's picture
Issouf Ouattara, sales manager of the Lopé lowlands in the Hambol Region, Côte d’Ivoire, shares a laugh with Sali Soro, smallholder rice farmer (Photo by Raphaela Karlen, World Bank)

The second post of this blog series illustrated the potential for poverty reduction through value chain development (VCD) in Africa. This is an approach that Côte d’Ivoire hopes will work for its rice farmers. During the 2008 world food crisis, rice prices tripled in a matter of months, and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire got to work on a National Rice Development Strategy. With more than half of the country’s rising demand for rice being met by imports, which could in principle be produced locally, the strategy aims to create self-sufficiency when it comes to rice production.

The strategy lays out a VCD approach driven by the private sector, with the rice mills as entry points. It focuses on strengthening market development while at the same time improving the productivity of rice farmers and the quality of rice processing. This should allow the domestic rice value chain to produce higher volumes of quality white rice to meet the unmet urban demand. 

Rising with rice in Côte d’Ivoire 2: More and better jobs by connecting farmers to markets

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Also available in: Français
Workers operating the rice thresher in the Lopé lowlands in the Hambol Region, Côte d’Ivoire. Photo by Raphaela Karlen / World Bank

In the first post of this blog series, we traveled to the center of Côte d’Ivoire during rice harvesting season and met two people whose livelihoods depended on the outcome: Sali Soro, a smallholder farmer and member of a regional rice cooperative, and Zié Coulibaly, director of the Katiola rice mill.

Their stories illustrate the challenges faced by local farmers and millers and show how the chain is not reaching its full potential in contributing to poverty reduction in Côte d’Ivoire.

Rising with rice in Côte d’Ivoire 1: How local farmers and millers are leading the way

Raphaela Karlen's picture
Also available in: Français
Zié Coulibaly, director of the Katiola rice mill in the Hambol Region, Côte d’Ivoire (Photo by Raphaela Karlen, World Bank)

It is rice harvesting time in the Hambol Region of central Côte d’Ivoire, and Sali Soro is making sure this important day goes off without a hitch. A female member of Coop-CA Hambol, a regional rice cooperative in the Lopé lowlands, Sali managed to rent one of the few threshers available in the area. Workers brought the machine to her plot in the early morning and the rumble of the thresher has filled the air ever since.

At the end of the day, Sali will bring the harvested paddy rice to the nearby mill in the small town of Katiola. It’s a mill she is quite familiar with: Throughout the rice production cycle, Sali received not only seeds and fertilizers from the mill but also in-person agronomic advice from an extension agent.

In Africa, more not fewer people will work in agriculture

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature? Photo:  Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank

Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa still work in agriculture; on average, over half of the labor force, and even more in poorer countries and localities. Yet the share of the labor force in agriculture is declining (as is normal in development), leading African leaders and economists to focus on job creation outside agriculture.

Planning for jobs of the future matters.  The 200 million young people (those ages 15-24 years old) either looking for jobs or constructing livelihoods now, will increase to 275 million each year by 2030, and 325 million by 2050. Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature?

How innovative financing can support entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods

Michelle Kaffenberger's picture
A fruit and vegetable stand in Kampala. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

According to The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017, Africa is forecasted to produce just 100 million new jobs by 2035, while the working age population is projected to grow by more than 450 million. The fastest population growth will occur in the 15 to 35-year-old demographic.  This growing working-age population presents both an opportunity and a potential risk to Africa’s future prosperity. To ensure these new workers engage in productive livelihoods and prevent significant increases in extreme poverty and civil unrest, governments will need to enable job creation, including scaling cost-effective livelihood development programs targeting the extreme poor. Described below is a cost-effective approach which is yielding promising results and scaling through results-based financing.

Five new insights on how agriculture can help reduce poverty

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Also available in: Français 
A Cambodian farmer
A Cambodian farmer - Photo: Chor Sokunthea / World Bank

The view that a productive agriculture is critical for employment creation and poverty reduction is now widely shared within the development community. Yet, this has not always been the case. In the run up to the 2008 world food price crisis, many development practitioners, government officials and economists doubted whether agriculture could still play this role, especially in Africa. Agro-pessimism had set in during the 1990s and 2000s, with a decline in policy attention and agricultural investment.  The food price spikes of 2008 brought a realization that more needed to be done to strengthen agriculture in developing countries.

Unveiling new paths to create more Jobs for the Poor

Maria Laura Sanchez Puerta's picture
Also available in: Français
Onion field in Northern Côte d’Ivoire - Photo by Raphaela Karlen / World Bank

One out of ten people in the world —around 766 million people— still lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013. Most of them, 80 percent, live in rural areas and have very low productivity jobs. Improving jobs and earnings opportunities for these poor and vulnerable workers is at the core of the World Bank Group agenda and it requires holistic economic inclusion initiatives to move them into sustainable livelihoods.

Can Ghana’s extreme poor be graduated?

Suleiman Namara's picture
A stronger focus on human capital investments of children from these households with a particular focus on skills for future jobs will be key. (Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank)


Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) target of halving extreme poverty by 2015. A share of the population living in poverty decreased from 52% in 1991 to 24% in 2012. Ghana is eager to lead the way in Africa again, but this time to graduate extreme poor households, out of poverty. The current policy debates are around graduating in about three to four years some 8.4 % of households living in extreme poverty. But to what occupations?

How young people are rethinking the future of work

Esteve Sala's picture
(Photo: Michael Haws / World Bank)


When we talk about the future of work, it is important to include perspectives, ideas and solutions from young people as they are the driving force that can shape the future.  As we saw at the recent Youth Summit 2017, the younger, digitally-savvy generations —whether they are called Millennials, Gen Y, or Gen Z— shared solutions that helped tackle global challenges.  The two-day event welcomed young people to discuss how to leverage technology and innovation for development impact.  In this post, we interviewed —under a job-creation perspective—finalists of the summit's global competition.

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