SIFA: a pathway to local empowerment and the prevention of illegal immigration

Sustainable agriculture
The SIFA (Integrated Agricultural Training Sites) represent a response to the major challenges faced by Senegal, including rural exodus, clandestine migration, and the impacts of climate change. This migration, difficult to quantify due to its illegal nature, sees thousands of young people leaving the country each year, leaving behind families and communities in difficulty. At the same time, climate change is worsening the situation with more frequent droughts and floods, affecting agriculture and food security. Investing in professional training and sustainable agricultural practices is crucial to strengthen the resilience of these youth to these challenges.

At the core of these issues, the Site Intégré de Formation Agricole (SIFA) emerges as a solution. The SIFAs are integrated into existing projects (implemented within the Sahel Opportunities project) funded by the Liechtenstein Development Service, the Hirschmann Foundation and Augmentum. The projects are part of Swisscontact's Development Programme, co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Since 2022, 735 young people, including 54% women, have benefited from SIFA training.

Mounirou Sané

"I saw that in agriculture, people can earn a lot of money. But I didn't know how they worked to earn money. It's really the 'how' that I didn't understand. So I had to go to training first to learn and know the path I had to take in agriculture to succeed. Today I understand that if you have been trained by the SIFA, you have been given everything because when you leave the SIFA, you will not only have the skills, you will also have a vision and a business plan to succeed."

Located in regions with rich agroecological potential, the SIFA embodies an innovative vision of agriculture, combining training and production while respecting the environment. Designed as a model family farm, it aims to train young rural individuals in agricultural professions while promoting practices that respect nature. Through a practical and participatory approach, learners acquire a wide range of skills, from cultivation and transformation techniques for agricultural products to developing a business plan for the creation or development of their agricultural enterprise.

Young people training in market gardening
Young people training in agri-food processing 
Young people training in agri-food processing  
Trained young people in their own businesses

An essential aspect of the SIFA is its adaptability to local specificities. The training takes into account the agroecological particularities of each region, offering a variety of professional projects to the trained youth. This approach not only meets the needs of the local market but also promotes economic integration and the settlement of young people in their region of origin. Beyond technical training, the SIFA emphasizes the transmission of "soft skills" necessary for any farmer, such as taking responsibility for and farm management. Learners are thus immersed in a simulated professional environment, promoting their learning and preparation for working life.

The SIFA embodies a model of sustainable agriculture by training the farmers of tomorrow while preserving natural resources. Thanks to its innovative approach and exemplary practices, it contributes to the emergence of a more environmentally friendly and socially equitable agriculture. In addition to its impact on agriculture, the SIFA plays a crucial role in reducing rural exodus and clandestine migration. By offering sustainable agricultural employment opportunities to young people, it reduces their dependence on economic emigration and contributes to strengthening the economy and local communities.

Funding partners

This project is funded by Liechtensteinischer Entwicklungsdienst, Hirschmann Stiftung and other donors. It is part of Swisscontact's development program, co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). 

Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali
Labour market insertion
Education for opportunities – Empowering young women and men in the Sahel region
The aim of the project is to integrate young adults into the national labour market as well as to facilitate the development of income generation activities. This will make gainful professional activities within their reach so that they can improve their living conditions sustainably.