Youth perspectives on community security in the Eastern Terai

Youth perspectives on community security in the Eastern Terai

The aim of this briefing paper is to outline the key community security concerns voiced by young people in Morang and Sunsari districts and reflect these voices up to policy and decision makers at the national level.

Young people comprise over 30% of the overall population of Nepal and the decade-long conflict has had a profound effect upon their future.

However, the generational hierarchy which pervades all sectors of social, economic and political life has resulted in the exclusion of youth voices from key arenas of debate and dialogue. This, in turn, has resulted in a general failure to recognise the particular needs and experiences of different groups of young people during policy making. Now, facing a lack of educational and economic opportunities, many of these young people are disillusioned, frustrated and angry.

A growing minority of young people are now resorting to violent protest because they are unable to get their voices heard in other non-violent arenas. This is particularly true in the Eastern Terai, where the social, political and economic impacts of the emergent conflict have meant that youth have not benefited from the peace dividends that have been enjoyed by other young people in more peaceful regions of the country. This has exacerbated tensions and resulted in yet more anger and frustration.

If this segment of the population continues to be denied any ownership of the peace process and barred access to constructive channels through which to get their voices heard, it is unlikely that peace will be sustainable in Nepal. It is critical to work with youth to understand their security needs from a community perspective and to harness their energies for change.