The “Youth Communicators for Development” (YCD) is not only a bridge between Italy and Pakistan, but also between past and future. This is the spirit of this partnership, between AICS Islamabad, Luiss Business School and the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) in the framework of the “Programme for Poverty Reduction (PPR) in the rural areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Neighboring Areas”.
Those partners have presented the results through the voice of the people involved in the “Youth Communicators for Development” Project during a webinar hold on March 24th with H.E Andreas Ferrarese, Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan and H.E Jauhar Saleem,, Ambassador of Pakistan in Italy.
The PPR, financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and International Cooperation) and AICS to PPAF for 40 million euros is aimed to support the communities located in the areas along the border with Afghanistan towards their self-development. Being under completion, AICS Islamabad and PPAF have joined forces to enhance the PPR sustainability, the utmost partnership concept to AICS and the Italian MoFA, prioritized by Emanuela Benini, AICS Islamabad Director.
The YCD Project, led by Luiss Business School Professors Roberto Dandi (Project Coordinator) and Duilio Carusi (Project Manager), is one of the actions set forth by PPAF in the PPR’s framework to contribute to the sustainability of the communities’ multisectoral activities that have so far involved: 17 partner organizations, 38 local governments in 14 of the least developed districts of Pakistan.
«The YCD Project is very much in line with the mission of Luiss Business School, the place where students translate academic knowledge into concrete actions, to face the global challenges related to the evolution of our economy and society – said Raffaele Oriani Head Custom Programs & Consulting –a perfect example of a project that has potentially an impact not only on the economic side, but also on social side and in particular to challenge the politicians worldwide. We are celebrating the end of this program, but this can become the start of a new sets of collaborations for the next years».
This Project enhanced the importance of the converging role of youth, university, business community and territorial institutions to strengthen the capacity of communities’ self-development and boost up the relationships between Pakistan and Italy.
The Project has enhanced the importance of the role of young people in the dialogue with local institutions and businesses.
«The Italian cooperation has been working in in the Central America and the Caribbean, in Senegal and in other places of the world towards developing youth’ talents in an integrated manner – Ms Benini said – and in Pakistan we have The Same Dream (title of the PPR docufilm trailed during the event) and opted for the formula of Young Communicators for Development. The bridge they shall keep strengthening between the remote communities and their territories, through universities, is going to be a precious tool to the public and private sector and mostly for themselves. Let me tell you that he way the Project has developed is the fruit of a perfect teamwork that included AICS, PPAF, Luiss and 6 Pakistani universities with 90 of their students, that I am looking forward to listen now. The Project is also meant to pave the way to a platform where Pakistan and Italy academia may boost past and new relationships among them and with the business community and willing institutions ».
«Pakistan and Italy have excellent bilateral relations – as explained by H.E Andreas Ferrarese, the Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan – We have an excellent collaboration that got to a multilateral level, expecially within the United Nations. After Brexit, Italy is hosting the biggest Pakistani community in the European Union: between 150 and 200 thousand. A community that is going to increase because of family reunifications and because of the attraction that Italy has on many Pakistanis. It is a time when bilateral relations can be extended in the economic and trade sector, but also through cultural and academic actions. Pakistan is important for Italy also because from a general point of view it is a strategic country in Asia. Given this context, there is a huge potential that we have to scale up: the collaboration between universities and cultural structures of the two countries. I will be fully committed to work for that, to pose the basis for further developments. Many young and brilliant Pakistani have the possibility to give an extremely great contribution to their country and to bring development and prosperity to all the parts of this great country».
«Italy and Pakistan have common perceptions on international issues –H.E Jauhar Saleem, the Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy added– We have excellent cultural relations. There’s much more to do and I’m sure that together we will be making a lot of endeavors dealing as well with the potential for tourism and people-to-people contact. What medium could have done better? I must commend Luiss Business School for dabbling into that area. I see a lot of potential there. We have a very dynamic, very motivated youth. There are certain areas where there is excellence, for example in information technology, which is one of the fields of the future as this pandemic has brought out quite clearly that our technology will be the basis for our future development. We have been working with Luiss and other Italian educational institutions, in the framework of internship and graduates’ programmes, a way of developing linkages that lasts. This is a legacy in terms of contributing to the bilateral relations between the two countries. There is a great need in Pakistan to develop skills in young people. It has much to be learned, much to collaborate».
«PPR aims to bring sustainability to the Social and Economic development of Pakistan – explained Shakira Allahbaksh, Youth Communicator for Development – YCD creates a bridge between community and youth to bring change with engagement and sustainable solutions, thanks also to the linkage between Italian academia with Pakistani universities. On my point of view, the most interesting and learning part of the initiative is to the kind of sense of responsibility that involve the communities and what they expect from us, the youth: to get a closer picture of struggles, problems and solutions. YCD has also created a large network of youth, to work and connect together as a team across Pakistan. Our future goals? They’re totally on the communities, which have to evolve».
The YCD Project goals and processes
5 Pakistani universities from the territories where the PPR has been active for over 6 years: Chitral, Lasbela, Malakand, Swat, Turbat, and the Bahria University of Islamabad who supported the ICT system and much more, have been liaising with Luiss Business School who trained 94 students and 15 teachers belonging to them. The YCD are meant to become effective leaders, communicators and agents of change for their communities. At the heart of the YCD Project there is the empowerment of the communities to plan, create and manage initiatives crossing through their and others territories, with the help of universities, through the students, the YCD.
Since 2013 PPR has allowed households to increase their incomes and productions capacity. It has enabled communities to develop small skill infrastructures providing easier access to safe drinking water, secure and stable bridges, paved roads and renewable energy projects. Sustainability lies at the foundation of the program.
«This YCD Project aims to promote youth participation in the social and economic context of the rural area of these of two provinces Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – said Roberto Dandi, Project Coordinator, Luiss Business School – This effort is actually very critical because the Communication for Development concept is an entirely different approach to the traditional cooperation for development, where the local communities may be passive beneficiaries of services and funds. Through the YCD we want the communities to become protagonists of their self-development, through these bridges, built by the Young Communicators».
Students have been sent out, into the field, to gather data. Now they are completing their reports on specific actions in the fields of: sustainable tourism, women’s education, rural development, water management, child labor, cultural heritage, health and nutrition, and drug addiction.
«It’s been an amazing and exciting journey for all of us – said Saira Ahmed, Representative of Pakistan Italy Alumni Network – Emanuela Benini is the person behind the model of this multi-sectoral and multi stakeholders’ Project which engaged the very grass roots of society and remote areas and youth. . The most important thing has been to translate our efforts into the nexus between research, education and labour, which is at the heart of AICS’s strategy. Living in an urban city myself, I feel that we need to give them more attention and available resources. Universities collaboration has been another important aspectThe bilateral cooperation in this time of very nasty, global pandemic that has it us all, would not have been possible without this close teamwork».
The YCD Project could be the first step to strengthen the bond between Pakistan and Italy, but also to build a bridge between past and future in these countries.