The Freedom to Choose: Sustainable livelihoods and (im)mobility decisions among youth in rural Honduras
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Background: Youth living in remote communities of Honduras face considerable barriers to establishing sustainable livelihoods, with implications for their well-being. In response to these barriers, many rural youth migrate internally or internationally. Existing literature provides meaningful insight into how livelihood instability in Honduras shapes the push and pull factors for migration; however, there is limited understanding of how rural youth navigate their livelihood options and (im)mobility decisions. Objective: The purpose of this thesis is to explore livelihood opportunities, aspirations, and choices among youth from two rural municipalities of Honduras. These topics are investigated through 1) an evaluation of youth-targeted programming offered by one Honduran non-governmental organization (La Fundación para la Investigación Participativa con Agricultores de Honduras: FIPAH); and 2) an exploration of the factors influencing (im)mobility choices among youth respondents, including an examination of FIPAH’s role in these decisions. Methods: Using participatory methods, demographic information was collected on 1596 former participants in FIPAH’s youth programming, and qualitative interviews were conducted with 94 current and former participants. These data were analyzed through a realist lens to inform the findings from a participatory impact evaluation of FIPAH’s program. In-depth, follow-up interviews were conducted with 32 youth to further examine livelihood aspirations and choices. (Im)mobility outcomes were analyzed using the aspiration-capability framework. Findings were interpreted with insights from the Capabilities Approach to development. Results: FIPAH provided an enabling environment for capability expansion among rural youth by fostering an inclusive space in which youth broke down gender divisions and built solidarity. Youth developed skills in teamwork and leadership by jointly contributing toward community development initiatives. Youth also identified personal and professional interests by actively engaging in the diverse activities made available through the program. Youth who were practicing immobility described how taking advantage of FIPAH’s program, alongside other rural opportunities, facilitated their capabilities to stay in rural areas. They positioned themselves as agents of their immobility decisions, creatively navigating rural livelihood options in order to establish lives that they considered valuable and dignified. Conclusion: This study provides insight into both structural- and individual-level factors shaping livelihood opportunities, aspirations, and choices among youth from remote areas of Honduras. The evaluation findings illustrate effective youth programming strategies in low resource settings, and contribute to the literature on positive approaches to youth development. Explanations of participants’ (im)mobility decisions inform an understanding of migration flows in and from Honduras and contribute to the literature on immobility preferences and practices. Overall, this thesis reveals various factors affecting the well-being of rural youth in Honduras and can be used to support their flourishing.
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Sara Leanne Wyngaarden (2020). The Freedom to Choose: Sustainable livelihoods and (im)mobility decisions among youth in rural Honduras. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16598