Improving Youth Livelihoods in the Ghana Cocoa Belt

The Next Generation Youth in Cocoa Programme (MASO) conducted a study to evaluate how the programme has contributed to improving economic outcomes for youth participants, along with other changes in agricultural practices, income and poverty levels, and access to land and finance.

Using a youth livelihood lens to assess the impacts of the Next Generation Youth in Cocoa Programme (MASO) — implemented in Ghana by a consortium of six partners led by Solidaridad West Africa and funded by the Mastercard Foundation — this study evaluates how the MASO programme has contributed to improving economic outcomes for youth participants, through which implementation mechanisms and why. The study also sought to measure the impact of the programme on changes in economic activity, use of modern agricultural practices, income and poverty levels, and access to land and finance.

The study adopted the Propensity Score Matching (PSM) quasi-experimental method. Quantitative and qualitative surveys were conducted both on young people who were part of the programme, and those who were not —  in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central and Western regions of Ghana in 2017 and 2019.

The results from the study show that the MASO programme has positive but mixed impacts on participants’ households for poverty likelihood. The results further show positive impacts on poverty likelihood reduction, intensive labour supply (youth average working hours in the last seven days) and income (last seven days).

As part of its recommendations, the study proposes the need for youth employment programmes to consider gender and age-specific challenges, and address them ahead of and as part of the intervention. It also makes a case for skills training to be accompanied by private sector engagement, entrepreneurship training and a supply-chain approach to job creation considering the political economy of the country.

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