PROYEL: Engaging Youth

Promotion of Youth Engagement in Local Government Process (PROYEL), a project funded by the European Union (EU) and carried out by Helvetas Nepal in close collaboration with local NGOs and Local Governments, has resulted noticeable changes in tne Gurans Rural Municipality in the Dailekh area of the Karnali Province.

April 4, 2023, 8:16 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 16, No. 17, April.21, 2023 (Baisakh 08. 2080) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

On Tuesday, March 14 at around 11 a.m., at Gurans Rural Municipality's Office in Ranimatta, Dailekh District of Karnali province, a group of four youth were debating with Top Bahadur BC, Chairperson of Rural Municipality. The funding for youth-focused activities, involving them in the creation of policies through an internship, inclusiveness, gender equality, and programs promoting employment in the Rural Municipality were some of the themes covered.

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While the youth leaders and chairman BC were speaking, deputy chairperson Shiva Kumari Khadka and chief administrative officer Bam Bahadur KC were quietly listening.

Yam Bahadur BK, the president of the Gurans Rural Municipality Youth Panel, was joined at the discussion by three other female panelists from the Rural Municipality: Indira Pun Magar, Kalpana Khadka, and Maya Budha. They talked about topics like ending child marriage and new initiatives to keep young people in the community, among other things.

Nonetheless, this gathering was official, structured, and focused on local-level governance issues. BK, a youth leader from Youth Pane, came to the municipality to talk about bigger issues. Once younger voters participate in periodical elections for the municipal, provincial, and federal legislature, no one is concerned about their larger agenda or makes an effort to address their difficulties.

Following the elections, a sizable number of young people left Gurans Rural Municipality for the neighboring nation, the Gulf, or Nepal's urban center in search of employment.

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For local governments to be youth-friendly, young people must be included in the governance process. Youth participation and engagement are therefore given top emphasis by the European Union and Helvetas Nepal.

Changes are now occurring in small regions despite years of carelessness. Out of 753 local levels in Nepal, the PROYEL is encouraging youth to get involved at the municipality and ward level in five municipalities in the Karnali and three in the Madhesh Provinces, similar to how it does in the Gurans Rural Municipality.

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Gurans Rural Municipal Youth Panel leader BK and his three other coworkers Indira Pun Magar, Kalpan Khadka, and Maya Budha exhibited their capacities and capability to negotiate with local-level officials by attending training courses and programs under the initiative.

"More initiatives geared toward youth are something we expect. Despite a decline in child marriages, young people continue to migrate seasonally to surrounding provinces and neighboring countries,”said Indira Pun Magar, chair of the Ward No. 2 Youth Panel.

The interactions between the young people and the elected officials of rural municipalities were well-organized and lively. They took place in front of Celestine Krossechell, Helvetas's Asia Continental Coordinator, Dr. Prabin Manandhdar, Helvetas-Nepal Country Director, Aagya Pokharel, PROYEL Project Coordinator, Helvetas Karnali Provincial Head Madan Raj Bhatta, and other officials.

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“PROYEL assists us in building relationships with adolescents in a very short amount of time. Kids have become more interested in the municipal budget, services, and activities. To hold us accountable, this is a good indicator, according to deputy chairperson Shiva Kumari Khadka.

Celestine Krossechell, Helvetas's Asia Continental Coordinator, who had just flown in from Switzerland to inspect the projects, interrupted and questioned elected officials and Penal members about the engagement process.

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Sunita Chand, the chairman of the Women Empowerment Action Forum (WEAF) Nepal, who has played a significant role in the implementation of the PROYEL at local government, constantly watched the program throughout.

Dr. Manandhar advised that the representatives from the Rural Municipality and the local implementing partner connect the youth panel with other youth-related employment-generating programs implemented by Helvetas.

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Youths have led political and social transformation in the Gurans Rural Municipality, just as they have across the nation. The youth have been instrumental in reducing child marriage and Chaupadi. They have also been actively participating in local politics.

Notwithstanding their role, Nepal's experiences have demonstrated that the youth's active participation in the local governance process impacts the process of planning, priorities, and achievements. Deputy Chairman Khadka stated, "We have been working closely with the youth panel and assisting them to create the ward-level panel inclusive and effective to impart their tasks bringing the young agenda from the ward to the municipal level.

Only if the local government formally acknowledges the role of youth and includes them in the local governance process will long-term progress be made to enhance service delivery to the most vulnerable populations and end the exclusion of women and disadvantaged communities in a rural municipality like Gurans.

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"PROYEL's early experiences have demonstrated that young people can contribute effectively to attaining objectives like fostering open communication between local government and civil society. Such dialogue is scarce in rural towns despite the first elections taking place five years ago, according to Dr. Manandhar.

PROYEL has already conducted a variety of leadership workshops and other procedural pieces of training, such as the digital literacy workshop. According to project coordinator Aagya Pokharel, they provide local youngsters with more influence. The project involves increasing cooperation and coordination among various stakeholders to engage youth.

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Municipalities have played a key role in the delivery of public services since Nepal's federalization process was put into place, and they are in a unique position to create and implement a comprehensive response to regional development and humanitarian challenges.

"The PROYEL is seeking to establish a space to form a new set of connections and to give youth a voice and a chance in defining and engaging in the local government and development process," said Pokharel.

Helvetas' international activities place a strong emphasis on encouraging good governance, minimizing conflicts and the radicalization of youth, and promoting the positive effects of migration on development. PROYEL is a little effort, but if it is successful, a significant portion of Nepal's youth population will gain more from it.

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