International Alert, together with partners Equal Access Nepal (EAN) and Youth Action Nepal (YoAC), organised a joint discussion forum from 10th-12th March 2011 on challenges to public security in the local context. The forum included young political leaders from different political parties, leaders of university student unions, community police officers, local journalists and members of the Local Peace Committees (LPCs) from Bara, Dang and Sunsari Districts and aimed to develop a joint action plan to address some of the challenges discussed.
The forum was designed with an informal approach giving ample opportunity for youth and security providers to interact and to learn about each other’s positions and prospects. The chosen venue was Ghale Gaun in Lamjung District, a village located at approximately 2000 meters altitude in the mid-west mountainous region of Nepal. Alert and partners jointly facilitated dialogue among the participants to understand and collectively think about the problems and issues related with public security in the respective districts and explore and design joint pilot initiatives to be implemented in the districts and in Kathmandu.
This retreat is part of a three-year initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which seeks to contribute to building and fostering a constructive role for youth by ensuring their access to security and justice in Nepal. The initiative is currently in its second year. Activities in the first year of the initiative focused on generating knowledge and awareness amongst youth themselves of how young people experience and contribute to current security challenges and responses. These included training young researchers on conducting conflict and gender-sensitive research, training on producing and broadcasting radio programmes, local-level dialogues and trust-building activities, orientation to the local young leaders and the journalists on security and justice issues, etc. The second and third years of the initiative focus on creating and fostering constructive avenues for youth engagement in the provision of public security and justice.
The retreat in Ghale Gaun was successful in generating ideas for improving public security, to be implemented in the districts and in Kathmandu jointly by young people and security providers. One idea was a friendly football match between youth wings of the political parties and the community police in Kathmandu to contribute to improving relations among the political youth organisations and to increase the trust between them and the community police. In Bara, a terai district bordering India, it was suggested to form a group of young volunteers and train them to support community policing in the district. Similarly for Sunsari and Dang, participants planned to jointly implement ideas around contributing to public security and access to justice through creative means such as street dramas and the use of local FM stations.
Following the retreat, the participants will convene a larger group of individuals representing the political youth wings, members of LPCs, community police, journalists and the young leaders in each project location to agree on the joint pilot initiative. As part of the same initiative, there will be several dialogue activities in the district aimed at building trust between the community and the service providers and youth participants in the project will work towards developing a ‘youth position paper’ on public security.