Khabar South Asia: Young people in the Himalayan nation offer creative solutions to the challenges facing their generation.
The talent of young adults was on full display as they rolled out an array of projects and initiatives to mark the International Youth Day on August 12th. The event highlighted how Nepal is working to keep such young talent at home, despite persistent unemployment, pressure to go abroad and their relative reluctance to enter the political process.
Medha Sharma, 23, and her organisation YUWA observed the Day by launching a web-portal, iyd-nepal.org, to help young people voice their issues and interact with experts. YUWA is an organisation promoting youth empowerment, and Sharma hopes the new portal will become a hub for youth-related issues in Nepal.
“Later on, we plan to take up the most prominent issues and engage into advocacy for resolving them,” Sharma told Khabar South Asia, referring primarily to chronic unemployment and lack of opportunities for younger people. Filmmaker Sailendra Dangol, 26, put on a short, youth-themed film competition through his organisation, Youth Engagement in Sustainability (YES Nepal), in which youngsters with experience in visual mediums served as both judges and mentors to younger entrants.
“Through this short movie competition, we wanted to bring out the varied perspectives,” Dangol said. “Climate change and its impact on livelihood of people and the importance of youth entrepreneurship were the major themes that appeared in videos submitted in the competition.”
Agriculture, technological innovation and social entrepreneurship are three major areas through which the youth are playing important roles in the society, despite the lack of jobs, Dangol said. Anil Parajuli, 22, has started a bee-keeping farm with the help of an uncle, after finding that even a college degree won’t guarantee a good wage.
“It is not that you don’t get a job at all,” Parajuli said. “A majority of youth, despite being college graduates, end up working for a [wage] that can barely pay for their daily expenses.
“I think it is one of the reasons why many youth with good education also choose to go abroad and toil in foreign countries,” he said. “That’s why I’ve decided to start my own enterprise, rather than wait for the right job opportunity.” In fact, remaining in Nepal almost carries a stigma, according to Sharma.
“The prevalent mentality in our society is that youth staying in Nepal are perceived as losers, whereas those staying abroad are viewed as winners, regardless of their living standard or other achievements,” she told Khabar. “It has created a huge pressure on youth to go abroad for studies or employment, whether or not they want to.”
Stemming “Brain Drain”
Concerned with keeping its talented youth in-country, the government is trying to address the issue through its Youth Partnership Programme, granting funds to district organisations working to create opportunities at home.
“The Youth Self-Employment programme intends to develop entrepreneurship by providing young people with necessary capital and skills,” Ministry of Youth and Sports Secretary Sushil Ghimire told Khabar. “We grant funds to at least nine organisations in every district to launch programmes related to youth empowerment.”
Rudra Prasad Adhikari, another youth ministry official, said: “Government covers 60% of the cost whereas the organisations have to generate the remaining cost. The programmes, in some way, have to empower youth for greater involvement in the decision-making process.” To counter chronic unemployment, the government has launched skills training programmes, which include cell phone repair, caretaking and plumbing.
It also plans to introduce the “Youth Talent Awards” which will annually recognise three youths, youth groups or youth-related organisation with a NRs.100,000 ($1150) prize. “The main objective is to encourage youth to seek employment within Nepal, but even if they choose to go abroad they will be better off with these trainings,” Adhikari said.
Youth activist Krita Bhattarai, 21, is well aware that her country needs her generation. “This generation has been looked up to with much hope that they will induce prosperity as well as check degeneration—which are two vital components of development,” she told Khabar.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>