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Paving the way: Rural youth in Pakistan

Deep in the mountainous region of northern Pakistan sits the picturesque village of Minimarg. Almost 200 kilometres from Gilgit, the region’s capital, Minimarg can only be accessed via the 4,000-meter Burzil Pass.

For decades, the community in Minimarg were socially cut off, in particular the large youth population living in the region. The region reflects the high number of young people in the country, with 60 per cent under 30 years old. They faced high levels of unemployment and poverty – from a lack of technical education, limited private sector investment and poor rural finance services.

Building youth employability

The Economic Transformation Initiative-Gilgit Baltistan (ETI-GB) project started in 2015. Funded by IFAD and the Government of Pakistan, the programme aims to improve the income of smallholder farmers in the region. Youth have been specifically targeted to develop their skills for income generation, taking advantage of the regions tremendous potential for agriculture, infrastructure and land development.

One programme activity was the Youth Construction Team (YCT) to provide youth with gainful employment. Community partners and project staff identified a group of unemployed youth who had dropped out of secondary school or from the poorest families. They were grouped together to take construction related training. After the course they were given tool kits so they could be employed in approved schemes or related projects in other fields. Currently, 228 youth have been trained at the NLC Applied Technology Institute (ATIN) in Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan. The eleven construction related training courses were certified and accredited by the National Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).

Paving the way

Besides the Youth Construction Team, young people benefitted from other interventions provided by the programme. So far, 4,000 men and women have been trained in various farming practices. Over 80 graduates have been offered internships in the programme offices to receive training. Another 870 youth have been employed as labourers in their local villages to work on infrastructure development schemes, that have injected US$22 million into the rural economy.