PROYEL: Youth In The Jajarkot Earthquake

Funded by the European Union and led by Helvetas-Nepal in a consortium with two local NGOs, Promotion of Youth Empowerment in Local Governance Process (PROYEL) supported Bheri Municipality. The Youth Panel (YP) members of Bheri Municipality, formed by PROYEL, demonstrated the importance of youth involvement in effectively carrying out rescue and relief operations in disaster.

Feb. 2, 2024, 9:24 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 17, No. 13, February.09,2023 (Magh,26. 2080) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

The PROYEL was launched in January 2022 in Bheri Municipality of Jajarkot District of Karnali Province. Its aim was to engage youth in the local governance process and the recovery process of COVID-19. Following the Jajarkot earthquake, the program proved how an organized group of young people can assist to disaster relief and recovery operations.

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Over the course of the last 20 months, Helvetas Nepal, with funding from the European Union, and in the collaboration of two local NGOs organized a number of programs in five municipalities in the Karnali Province and three municipalities in the Madhesh Province through PROYEL.

This project aims to create an enabling environment for young Nepali citizens to engage in the local governance process, contributing to COVID-19 recovery and development in Nepal. After the earthquake, the project is also involved in the recovery of earthquake victims in Jajarkot district.

Prem Bahadur BK, a former member of the Youth Sounding Board (YSB) and coordinator of the Youth Panel (YP) for the Bheri Municipality in the Jajarkot district exhibited how youth may significantly contribute to recovery in disaster by collaborating closely with local governments.

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BK gave his viewpoint during a session hosted by Bheri Municipality and PROYEL in Jajarkot to review the project's programs and activities in the municipality.

Right after the November 3 earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 that rocked the Jajarkot and Eastern and Western Rukum districts, resulting in the deaths of over 160 people, 360 injuries, and the destruction of hundreds of houses, BK has been in constant communication with YP members from various wards, giving them instructions to work in tandem with the wards of Bheri Municipality to execute rescue and relief efforts.

BK believes that the youth of these areas will have ample opportunities in the reconstruction phase. Helvetas Nepal, along with the PROYEL project, is ready to engage them in other programs.

“We are implementing the ENSSURE project in Karnali province, which is related to youth employment, and planning to support the reconstruction process.” said Dr. Prabin Manandhar, country director of Helvetas Nepal. We will need support from members of the Youth Panel. With 42 percent of the population being youth and 42 percent of elected representatives being young, youth are at the forefront of the country, and our project is no exception. “

Dharmasara BK, 22, and Binisa Oli, 19, are members of the Youth Panel in wards 9 and 8, respectively, of Bheri Municipality. They report that the youth in their wards have been actively supporting rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

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Mayor Chandra Prasad Gharti of Bheri Municipality acknowledges the Youth Panel's role in search and rescue, relief distribution, and data collection. “The earthquake victims of the municipality are grateful to the Swiss Government and Helvetas Nepal for their quick response in providing emergency relief materials, including tarpaulins and tents for temporary shelter,” said Mayor Gharti. Mayor Gharti expressed gratitude for the support of PROYEL's Youth Panel members in distributing emergency relief materials to those in need and collecting data.

All 13 wards of Bheri Municipality have a Ward Panel. PROYEL's youth panel proved to be a valuable asset for the municipality and other organizations during the disaster.

Aagya Pokharel, Project Coordinator of Helvetas Nepal's PROYEL project, stated that the Youth Panel members assisted Helvetas Nepal in distributing emergency relief materials. “Our panel members delivered the relief materials to remote villages. The project also provided valuable lessons learned. We are now planning to utilize our youth in earthquake-resistant reconstruction,” said Pokharel.

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Helvetas Nepal, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation aid have initiated relief operations in the earthquake-affected regions of Jajarkot and Rukum.

Dal Bahadur Gharti, acting chief administrative officer of the Bheri Municipality, expressed gratitude for the support provided by Helvetas Nepal and the PROYEL project during this time of need.

The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2074 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Rules of 2076 provide a comprehensive legal framework that directs the entire disaster management process within the country. The legislation envisions the role of youth in disaster management in compliance with the National Youth Policy.

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A Youth Panel was formed in August with 6 girls and 9 boys representing 8 wards, with the support of Women Empowerment Action Forum (WEAF) based in Birendranagar, Nepal. Aagya Pokharel, Project Coordinator of Helvetas Nepal's PROYEL Project, stated that the Youth Panel began its functional work with Palika since then.

Youth Panel members from all wards of Bheri Municipality actively participated in rescue efforts and distributed emergency supplies during the earthquake.

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PROYEL is taking the initiative to link the Youth Panel in the reconstruction phase, including panel members involving in different skills training and other similar planning. The Youth Panel, which started at the local level, has a visible presence in Jajarkot.

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