Nepali Youth’s Community Engagement in the Post-Disaster Context: Myth or Reality?
In the 2015 earthquake, around 9000 people killed, and millions displaced in Nepal (GoN, 2015). Thousands of youth came out to rescue and redistribute relief materials in affected communities risking their own life. The spontaneous engagement of youth in the community received attention and acknowledgement from the Nepal Government and other agencies (GoN, 2015, and Sherrif, 2016). Until now, most studies on youth engagement in communities are largely concentrated on political domain and ignored youths’ engagement in the social sphere (Gaventa, 2003). For example, research on Nepali youth has largely focused on political activism such as O’Neill’s (2016) and Snellinger’s (2013) studies on student movements and politics. This is largely due to young people’s valuable contribution in political movement, reform, and stability (O’Neill, 2016). However, their engagement and contribution in social sphere specifically in community rebuilding as well as bringing social changes after the massive earthquake is mostly neglected, and their contributions are seldomly recognized and archived. Therefore, the key purpose of this paper is to share how young people are engaging in local communities in the post-disaster context.
This paper is drawn primarily from Nabin’s Ph.D. work on Nepalese young people’s community participation and our own field visit experiences. The methodology applied for this study was a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach. Co-researchers were purposively selected mainly those who were involved in the post disaster rescue and relief work. Over a 3 month between June-August 2019, co-researchers immersed themselves in the field, and visited 6 disaster affected districts including Gorkha and Sindhupalchwok. Various research methods such as CI workshops, interviews, case studies, focus group discussions, self-reflection workshops and study of social media were adopted for data collection. From the preliminary analysis of collected data, this paper attempts to answer how Nepali youth are (dis)engaging in local communities and how they are handling community issues in the post-disaster context.
Keywords: Youth, Community Participation, Post-Disaster