In 2020, WFP provided direct assistance to 115.5 million people in 84 countries, delivering food assistance and cash-based transfers to those it identified as vulnerable and food-insecure. A significant proportion of these were young women and men aged 15–24, making their transition to adulthood. Approximately 88 per cent of the 1.2 billion young people around the globe live in low- and low-middle income countries. United Nations estimates put the number of young people in WFP’s partner countries at 512.4 million in 2020, rising to a projected 718 million by 2050 as demographic pressures contribute to a ‘youth bulge’, particularly in Africa where over 70 per cent of young men and women currently subsist at or below the poverty line of US$2 per day.
WFP’s imperative to think more strategically about how it can contribute to youth employment derives from the fact that a large proportion of the people WFP serves are young men and women suffering high levels of food insecurity, linked to their inability to find decent work. Appropriate efforts to address youth inclusion in WFP’s programming could positively contribute to the overall economic uplifting of young people, delivering on WFP’s mandate of saving and changing lives.