Rapid Asia investigates youth program in Nepal

The Bagmati River is a vital part of the national culture of Nepal. The holy river attracts many devoted Hindus worldwide who use its water to purify themselves with the riverbanks supporting several temples and cremation ghats. Alongside this, the river has great economic importance. However, the expansion of Kathmandu City and a lack of a suitable sewage system have led to the river becoming a main collector drain contributing to its environment’s deterioration. The middle basin is also prone to severe flooding and landslides that contribute to the increase of rural poverty.

The Bagmati River Basin Youth Program, implemented by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), aims to counter these issues by improving water security and minimizing climate change risks. The project was organized around two different youth training programs. The first was a more extended SDG training program with a smaller group of around 200 youth volunteers. The second encompassed a shorter information session with some 1700 youth, the World’s Largest Lesson (WLL). The project’s five main focuses included the establishment of systems and capacity for integrated river basin management, improved river environment in urban areas, increased water availability in the dry season, flood forecasting and early warning system for the river basin, and efficient project management.

In January 2021, Rapid Asia carried out an impact evaluation of the Bagmati River Basin Youth Program to establish whether the program had a beneficial impact on the youth involved and if the training translated into meaningful youth projects on the ground. A proven evaluation model (KAP Score) was used to measure these outcomes, looking at how youth behaviour changed due to the program. The initial pre-evaluation found that youth were enthusiastic but lacked basic knowledge and understanding around the SDG and concepts like sustainability. But some youth had a better understanding than others, especially if they had previous experience with volunteering. Both training programs helped to build knowledge and develop skills, in particular the longer SDG training. The results suggest that those with previous volunteering experience had a better understanding of the program’s issues and were more likely to translate what was learned in training into action. At the end of the program, over 300 youth participants had engaged in activities to help save the Bagmati River Basin.  Around half of them had become youth organizers who had undertaken and led their initiatives, and the other half were engaged in activities organized by others. Youth initiatives included better waste management, tree planting, clean up rallies and recycling. Some youth also did their own fundraising.

The evaluation concluded that longer and shorter training have different advantages and complimented each other. The longer SDG training was more suited to developing long-term youth advocates with the shorter training having the benefit of a greater scale. The results also highlighted that youth with previous experience were better positioned to learn from the training and take action. The two training programs seem to go hand in hand with participants crossing over into both. It was clear that both training programs could be useful in future youth engagement initiatives.

Rapid Asia is a management consulting firm based in Bangkok and was established in 2010. They predominantly work with social development organizations including donors, the UN and international NGOs for whom we carry out independent program evaluations to verify impact and sustainability.

Two core areas of expertise are measuring impact of social marketing campaigns and conducting strategic advocacy assessments for policy change. To date, Rapid Asia has worked in nearly 30 countries doing this type of work.

Learn more about Rapid Asia here.


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