Of Bulls and Bulbs. Using Drawing Exercises to Explore the Aspirations of Rural Zambian Youth
University of Hohenheim, Inst. of Agric. Sci. in the Tropics (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute), Germany
During the last years, policymakers and development-practioneers focused heavily on making farming more attractive for the rural youth in Africa. To reach this goal, different actions are proposed, often emphasizing the need for modern technology and information and communication technologies (ICTs). These proposed actions are mostly based on anecdotes and prior policy beliefs, but not on empirical evidence since scientists have largely neglected this topic. This study aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the aspirations and perceptions of young people. Two research methods were used: interviews and drawing exercises, a novel method in this context. The results show that the rural youth has very diverse opinions and aspirations. In contrast to the literature, young people were found to reflect carefully about the good and bad sides of farming, rural and urban life, and of foreign countries. Imagining their future farm, young people mostly envisioned increasing farm diversity, using draught animals and applying more fertilisers. Few study participants drew or mentioned the use of modern technologies such as tractors, and none mentioned ICTs. While it is difficult to generalise the results, the findings suggest that policymakers and development-practioneers need to pay more attention to the actual aspirations of the rural youth to avoid well-intended but misguided policies. The study also highlights the potentials to use drawing exercises as research tools. While our analysis remained mainly qualitative, the drawings of the respondents could also be coded with scores to calculate aspiration levels.
Keywords: Africa, aspirations, drawing exercice, future farm, youth, youth bulge, Zambia
Contact Address: Thomas Daum, University of Hohenheim, Inst. of Agric. Sci. in the Tropics (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute), Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail: thomas.daumuni-hohenheim.de