Francis Xavier Naab

Research themes
  • Land use and food security
  • Environmental and climate change
  • Social and Cultural Change and Adaptation
  • Economic change and vulnerability
  • Decentralization & Reforms
  • Gender
  • Migration, mobility and urbanization
Research countries
  • Ghana
Research projects


Globally, nearly half the population is under 25 years. Young people constitute a significant source of the human capital base that drives countries’ socio-cultural, economic, and political development worldwide. UN data predicts that Africa’s population will double by 2050, from 1 billion to almost 2.4 billion, with half of that population under 25 years. When properly harnessed, their intellectual abilities and productive acumen underpin social progress. For the UN, young people remain vital in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. But, the rural youth face many challenges in their everyday negotiations and choices about life goals, trajectories, and envisioned futures. While marginalised in rural policy development, many grapple with high unemployment/precarious employment, a lack of resources and opportunities, poor access to public services, and environmental change. These challenges intensify rural youth vulnerabilities and limit their participation in national and local development and life trajectories in a meaningful way. Yet, in Ghana, concerns about how rural youth can make sense of their daily lives and envision their future, negotiate and assert their identity and social mobility, and how their life goals emerge and change over time have not been sufficiently explored. This study is set within the interpretivist paradigm and utilises a generic qualitative research design. It aims to understand rural youth aspirations and how specific processes at the micro-sociological levelindividual, group, and the larger society- influence rural youths’ capacity and capability to aspire, which is essential for forming realistic aspirations and making viable career choices. The study involves a purposefully selected group of youth aged 17/19, in and out of school and from smallholder farmer households, their parents and other critical actors in Nandom. Drawing on the critical realist theoretical lens, I analyse the underlying family and local community, school and larger global forces driving rural youths’ aspirational capacities while stressing the agency of their ideas about success and good life. By focusing on rural youth’s subjectivities, this study contributes to furthering our understanding of their aspiration formation processes, fears, anxieties, and manoeuvres in the context of a seeming failure of neoliberal policies and local politics in the provision of navigational tools and spaces for aspiring in rural areas of Ghana. 

Professional experience

Member, Ghana Institute of Planners (MGIP)

Member, Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA)


MSc. Development Policy & Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (2013-2015). Ghana

BA. Development Studies, University for Development Studies, (2007-2011). Ghana


Development Studies and Development Policy Planning

Funding institutions


Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr Jorg Blasius 

Advisor at ZEF

Dr Wolfram Laube 


Derbile, E.K., D. Chirawurah and F.X. Naab.  2021.  Vulnerability of smallholder agriculture to environmental change in North-Western Ghana and implications for development planning.  Climate and Development, : 1-14   .

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Francis Xavier Naab

Junior Researcher

Department :
ZEF A: Department of Political and Cultural Change