There are three interlinked barriers to sustainable development addressed by this programme: youth unemployment, climate change and food insecurity. NCA responds to this by increasing people’s access to climate smart food production systems, jobs, and other income opportunities. This is done in order to reduce unemployment, strengthen food security and income opportunities, and build people’s resilience to climate change and other shocks. The result is empowered people able to lift themselves out of poverty and better contribute to creating safer and more resilient communities.

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Global population growth, combined with other factors, requires that we almost double today’s food supply within 2050 to feed a future population of 10 billion people. Food insecurity is already a major issue in most of the countries where NCA works. Climate change, along with degraded water sources, forests, land and soil, put additional pressure on the food production and livelihood options. It is a paradox that it is the small farmers who are responsible for much of the world's food production, and that many of these are struggling with malnutrition and too little food. In African countries, a large portion of the population – often 70-80% - are employed agriculture. The World Bank says that growth in food-producing sectors is more than twice as effective in combating poverty as growth in other sectors.

Youth unemployment, under-employment and lack of decent working conditions remain global challenges. More than 64 million unemployed youth worldwide and 145 million young workers are living in poverty according to the International Labour Organisation. Almost 90% of all young people live in developing countries. In the next decade, one billion young people will enter the labour market, requiring the creation of millions of new jobs

NCA’s Response

The goal of NCA’s Climate Smart Economic Empowerment programme is to enable people to lift themselves out of poverty while building communities’ resilience.

Within this programme, NCA and its partners aim to

  • increase income for small-scale producers and service providers
  • ensure that climate resilient production and service systems are in place
  • ensure that jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities are created for youth


CSEE in Long-term Development Work

The programme supports food producers to increase productivity and income, and contributes to value addition of production/services, with attention on women and youth.

To achieve this, smallholders are provided with knowledge and skills on climate-smart production practices, value addition techniques and entrepreneurship skills. This is combined with access to affordable inputs such as equipment, agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilisers) and technologies, digital innovations such as renewable energy, and finance (including through saving and loan groups). Producer groups are organised so members can achieve economies of scale, improve market access for their products and services, and enter pro-poor value chains. NCA identifies scalable models where NCA and partners can initiate market-based solutions for local economic development.

NCA’s Micro Investing approach plays an important role in achieving increased income for small-scale producers and service providers while building climate resilience. This scalable approach requires a financial investment from small-scale producers who in turn are supported by a team of agronomists and suppliers. The smallholder is introduced to modern technology and their productivity is boosted so that profits can be reinvested for further growth. A series of subsequent micro investments allows the smallholder to gradually increase the return on their work capacity and acreage.

Creating an enabling environment for smallholders and small-scale entrepreneurs, and removing barriers to economic activities and production, are also integral elements of this programme. So too is promoting climate smart production systems that boost income and diversify livelihoods, while at the same time enhance climate change coping strategies. Resilience to climatic risks will be built at the community level, whilst individuals will be encouraged to foster climate smart agricultural practices.

As lack of relevant skills is a key contributor to unemployment, NCA supports young women and men to enter vocational education and other types of skills training, and links youth with job markets or entrepreneurship opportunities. Emphasis is put on commodities and services where women and youth can play an active role, and the programmes addresses barriers for women’s participation in certain skills and jobs.

Map of intervention areas


Collaborating with Faith Actors and Civil Society

NCA works in close collaboration with local faith-based organisations and NGOs, specialised NGOs, local private sector stakeholders in value chains (input suppliers, processors, buyers, etc.) as well as international companies that can, for example, contribute with technologies, innovation and knowledge. NCA also works closely with academia and research institutions.

NCA is a member of the GROW network. GROW is a strategic partnership/network of Norwegian Non-Governmental Organisations that work to promote food security, climate adapted agriculture, resilience building, value chain development, strengthening of farmers’ organisation and vocational training within the small-holder agriculture sector in marginalised rural communities in developing countries. The network comprises currently 6 organisations: Utviklingsfondet (The Development Fund), Caritas, Norges Vel, CARE Norge, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Plan International Norway. The value-added of the network is a collaborative approach, including establishing a community of practice, interacting on a regular basis to share best practice and create new knowledge.

Results case

Micro Investing

What if smallholders, representing 7 out 10 of the world’s poor, could permanently escape poverty in less than a year, at a declining unit cost, starting around USD 100?

Creating Jobs with Solar Energy in Somalia & Burundi.

Imagine life without electricity. It is quite hard, as most of us are used to unlimited, stable access to energy and only need to flip a switch to get power. More than 1 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity, resulting in limited opportunities to develop their lives and create income and economic activities.