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South AsiaNepal

Youth groups for social change in Ilam

In Ilam, a district bordering the tea plantations in Darjeeling, India, AWO International works together with the Human Rights Forum Nepal, HuRF for short. The project focuses on strengthening youth groups who work for safe migration and against human trafficking in their communities.

9 Personen auf dem Foto sehen zu, wie Pilzbällchen zubereitet werden.
Preparing the mushroom ball after the training as self entrepreneurship.

Labour exploitation and human trafficking belong to the main problems in the eastern part of Nepal. Insecure migration routes and the limited opportunities for employment contribute to an increased rate of human trafficking. Labour brokers are insufficiently supervised by the district and provincial administration. There are also little or no information events on the subject in the communities. Local government representatives do not exercise their responsibility to inform people living in the province about the risks involved. An official inspection by the Nepalese government was carried out in March 2018 and declared more than 80 private employment agencies from the neighbouring Jhapa district to be illegal. In addition, reliable data and figures on current migration flows are scarce. A lack of income opportunities triggers young people in particular to seek out risky employment abroad. The border region is difficult to monitor, and human traffickers have an easy job. The Indian metropolis of Kolkata is only a day's journey away: there, young men find employment as day labourers on the major construction sites, while women and girls are mostly forced to work in red light districts. The Gulf States and Malaysia are also popular destinations for migrant workers from Ilam.

Raising awareness as the first step

Our partner organization HuRF is experienced in the areas of work and enjoys a good reputation. For more than 20 years, the organization has been working on human rights issues and the reconciliation process after the end of the civil war in the remote regions of Eastern Nepal.

The focus of the joint project in Ilam is the establishment of youth groups to educate the community members about the issues of safe migration and human trafficking. Interested parties and their families are informed and sensitized by the youth groups about the migration cycle, among other things also by door-to-door campaigns. In addition, the groups take over a watchdog task to alert local authorities in cases of suspected human trafficking. This is done in close coordination with project staff, local councils and local interest groups. Together with the stakeholders, the youth groups initiate a discourse on safe migration and human trafficking.  Other communities in Ilam District and neighbouring villages in neighbouring districts can also increase their knowledge of human trafficking and safe migration through a project-financed radio programme. Last but not least, the project promotes small and micro-entrepreneurship as well as formal education.

In the previous funding phase the cooperation with the partner organization HuRF in Ilam was already successful: The newly elected government structures gradually adopted the youth groups supported by the project as their own structures in order to mobilize them independently, support them with their own funds and thus increase the impact of the measures.

April supplement 2023

The project was successfully completed in the end of 2022. As part of the project, awareness raising campaigns on safe migration and anti-trafficking and the importance of entrepreneurship for livelihoods were conducted by the 28 youth groups in all project communities. In addition, a total of 34 street theatres reached more than 12,000 community members to raise awareness about the importance of safe migration. The theatre performances also helped to educate the population about COVID-19 and basic hygiene practices. During the project period, a total of 3,500 people received safe migration counselling services through the Support Desk in Chulachuli and Maijogmai communities. Furthermore, 655 community members participated in vocational trainings in goat, pig, poultry or beekeeping as well as out-of-season vegetable farming, and developed their own business plan with the support of the project team.



Project Youth for Social Change - Initiative against human trafficking through capacity building, mobilising youth groups on safe migration and promoting self-employment to improve livelihood
Place/Region Province 1, District of Ilam. The proposed project concerns four local municipalities (one urban municipality and three rural municipalities), namely the municipality of Mai, the rural municipality of Rong (both already consisting of the pilot phase
Partner Human Rights Forum Nepal (HuRF)
Target group Potentially vulnerable migrants, family members of migrants, unsuccessful returnees, rescued victims of human trafficking and youth groups will directly benefit from the project. In addition, actors at provincial and district level will be reached by
  • Legal advice at district level for potential labour migrants
  • Social mobilization
  • Development and distribution of IEC materials
  • Awareness raising events (media work, plays and local campaigns)
  • Media relations (press conferences, interactions, visits to journalists)
  • Production and broadcasting of radio programmes
  • Formation and strengthening of social structures and technical backstopping for the institutionalization process
  • Establishment and promotion of a migrant support desk
  • Networking meetings and linking the youth groups with various stakeholders at village, district and national level
  • Various training measures on safe migration and human trafficking and non-violent communication
  • Training of multipliers (thematically, but also in the context of social mobilization, moderation, psychosocial counselling)
  • Training for income-generating measures, support in the development of business plans and technical backstopping in job search and business start-up
  • Awareness raising events by the youth groups
Duration 2020 - 2022
Budget 234.563 Euro
Sponsor BMZ Sozialstrukturförderung

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Advice and information on safe migration routes for potential migrants (pic: WosCC/AWO International)
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