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FEATURE STORY

Russia: Youth Empowerment in the Northern Caucasus

October 25, 2010

Recent cover of the project-sponsored Peacemaker magazine for young people, produced quarterly and distributed across 5 republics of the North Caucasus.

The World Bank-funded North Caucasus Youth Empowerment and Security Project was launched in May 2008 and will run through April 2011. The project, which is being implemented by UNICEF North Caucasus, takes an integrated approach to youth inclusion by establishing youth centers offering economic and social support services (including computer and language classes, life skills and healthy lifestyles education, cultural and sports activities), funding peace and tolerance building activities aimed at youth and youth opinion-shapers (including peace camps, youth leadership trainings, a cross-republic peace magazine and a new peace and tolerance curriculum for elementary schools), and strengthening the capacity of youth ministries and committees. Project activities are being implemented across 5 republics of the North Caucasus: Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. To date, the project has supported over 12,000 individual beneficiaries, including youth, parents, educators, youth NGOs and youth authorities.

YOUTH IN THE NORTHERN CAUCASUS: FROM RISK TO OPPORTUNITY

Youth In The Northern Caucasus: From Risk To Opportunity traces the root causes of youth disenfranchisement in the North Caucasus republics and provides options for investing in this very important, yet neglected area. It also includes a qualitative survey in 6 regions of the North Caucasus, including Stavropol, North Ossetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chechnya and Ingushetia. The study compares data for the North Caucasus youth with their counterparts in the rest of Russia, and finds that although some common trends exist, young people in North Caucasus face greater disadvantages which are magnified by the large size of the youth population in this region. Read more...

Selection of a location for a second project-supported youth center

A first project-supported youth center was opened in Nesterovskaya, Ingushetia in November 2009 and is providing a wide range of training, counseling, leadership development and social activities to young people in the district.  In spring 2010, the project began the process of identifying a location for a second project-supported youth center.  The objective was to identify an area in which youth needs and insecurity were high and where government was willing and able to identify an existing premises which could be rehabilitated into a youth center.  Based on the results of a project-sponsored beneficiary survey across the five project republics, extensive field visits and discussions of the project Steering Committee (which includes representatives of the youth ministries or committees of all 5 project republics), the village of Dugulubgei in Baksanski district of Kabardino-Balkaria was selected to host the centre.  Youth needs in Baksanski are high; more than 20,000 young people aged 14-30 are the resident in the district, where unemployment is high and religious extremism is on the rise.

In preparation for the opening of the new centre, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Youth Ministry of Kabardino-Balkaria and the Local Administration of Baksanski District, and the selection of a construction company to undertake necessary renovation works is in process.  Over the next several months, center specialists and volunteers will be selected and trained and the activity schedule for the center developed.  The Dugulubgei Youth Center is expected to open in late November 2010.

Small grants to Youth Entrepreneurs and Youth NGOs

As part of the small grants review process, chosen youth entrepreneurs received business development training and assistance to develop their business plans.

The Small grants component of the project was officially launched on 1 June 2010, with an invitation for young entrepreneurs and NGOs working on youth issues in the five focus republics of the North Caucasus to submit proposals for business development ideas (youth entrepreneurs) and youth education and empowerment projects (youth NGOs) aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable youth in the region.  A competitive selection process involving independent technical experts was undertaken and grants were awarded to 25 young entrepreneurs and 16 youth NGOs from all target republics.  Some examples of the kinds of youth entrepreneurship activities being supported by the project include:

Dagestan: Rabbit farm, Production of packaging materials, Decorative handicrafts, Production of neon advertisements

Chechnya: Autorepair shop, Bakery, Foreign language courses

Ingushetia: Tailoring shop, Greenhouse vegetable growing

North Ossetia: Rural tourism, Self-service laundry for university dormitories, Taxi dispatching service

Kabardino-Balkaria: Tailoring and alterations shop, Flower growing and arranging

While the Youth Empowerment and Security Project will close in April 2011, the next seven months will see a wide range of exciting activities targeted at young people in the North Caucasus, including skills development, inter-republic peace and tolerance-focused art and photography competitions, youth leadership trainings and a regional conference on peace and tolerance.  The World Bank remains committed to youth development and peace and security promotion in the North Caucasus and is open to the possibility of exploring new ways to support economic and social opportunities for young people as a means of contributing to local development and improved security.