Author: Tim Tyson Short and Caroline Noble
Restless Development Nepal received a STARS Foundation Impact Award for its outstanding work in preventative health with children and youth in high-altitude isolated communities.
Nepal has a largely agricultural economy and is emerging from more than a decade of civil conflict. 41 per cent of the population is under 15 and whilst young people have enormous potential to lift the country out of poverty, they face significant challenges. Just under 80 per cent lack access to essential health services, there are low levels of school enrollment and over 45 per cent of the population face unemployment. These problems are exacerbated in isolated high altitude communities.
Restless Development Nepal is a youth led agency that works in the poorest and most marginalised districts raise the awareness of children and young people on health issues such as HIV, hygiene and sanitation. Working in collaboration with other NGOs, its programmes are delivered by international and national volunteers, who offer peer-led interactive development activities. These volunteers promote the formation of youth clubs, to widen the impact of the programmes and help develop young people’s life skills. Restless Development Nepal also works alongside local communities to build hygiene and sanitation infrastructure, and advocates at a national level for the health and participation rights of young people.
From 2006 to 2009 over 56,000 children and young people have been taught health and life skills and over 100,000 community members have been reached with vital health education. These efforts have resulted in a 42 per cent increase in the number of children with basic knowledge of HIV from 54 per cent to 96 per cent and an 11 per cent decrease in the number of families reporting preventable diseases in their household. In addition, Restless Development Nepal has partnered with 1,000 secondary school teachers to increase access to, and quality of, primary education. As a result, new school enrolments increased by 40 per cent, particularly among girls and marginalised ethnic groups. The communities have also benefited from the implementation of infrastructural projects (wells, latrines, reservoirs) that address their local needs.
Restless Development Nepal has also developed strong relationships with government Ministries, having been invited to assist in the implementation of the National Youth Policy.