Via its project “ME4PS: Market and Employment for Peace and Stability”, the Swiss organisation Helvetas is about to take on one of the greatest challenges of our time: to contribute to stability and peace through functional markets and job opportunities in particular for the rural youth. Where young people see economic prospects for themselves and their families, they are willing and able to make a constructive contribution to improving their society.
These prospects exist in much of modern Pakistan, but less in the agrarian tribal areas in its north-western region. Here, average income is half the national average, the literacy rate is one third of the national rate, and maternal mortality is 35 times higher than the national average. Young people can’t find a place to invest their abilities and labour. The situation is particularly challenging for young women, who are mainly restricted to household chores and have little economic and educational opportunities due to cultural barriers.
In KP Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Helvetas’ project on market and employment is improving earning opportunities for youth, especially young women. In the agricultural sector, they learn to think along entrepreneurial lines and, in addition to food self-sufficiency, to raise cash crops such as tomatoes, onions, dairy products and meat.
Other youngsters can opt for short-term training programmes to acquire skills that will help them find employment. As in Nepal, Mozambique and Ethiopia, the training establishments are not paid in full unless and until their trainees find steady jobs or succeed in starting up a business of their own.
In addition to these concrete interventions, the project also promotes development of the economic environment and linking skills training centres with job markets and building their capacities to impart market-demanded skills. Business owners, officials and merchants learn to network and work together to develop functional markets and channels of funding. Improved legal frameworks, opportunities for dialogue and cooperation, and mutual trust should help create a society and a climate in which everyone can defend their interests.
Conflict affected teenagers and women are included in this development as well. A total of 120,000 families benefit directly or indirectly from this extensive project.
This project to develop markets and employment is a mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is being carried out by Helvetas together with the NGOs ACTED and Plan international.