Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 13th, 2011

Youth Economic Forum for Lebanon:  How little money does great jobs

It is no secret for most Lebanese that they never enjoyed a valid and strong central State, that the successive governments since independence in 1943 were huge creative smokescreens for the real power structure in Lebanon represented by the “officially recognized” 18 religious sects and the private banking institutions. But the Lebanese youth in the last two years have been actually building a civic true State from the ground up.

Lebanon political structure has de facto handed down to the “officially recognized” 18 religious sects the responsibility to identify a citizen and run his social and civic status (a sort of de facto multi-theocratic State).  The youth of every generation have taken to the streets for a fair and equitable election laws, but there never existed a government to listen and act upon youth expectations.  The Arab spring upheavals are giving youth movements in Lebanon live engagement ammunition to hope for successful demands to reforms.

So far, the only duty of the government is to issuing passports, coining currency, and taxing the people. But the Lebanese youth in the last two years have been organizing in specialized NGO to supplement the deficiencies of a non-existing civic central government in gathering data on our social reality and problems.

Youth movements, and the Youth Economic Forum for example, have demonstrated of being capable of doing great things and executing good jobs with little money. What’s the story?

Two years ago, the finance ministry organized training sessions and invited university students to participate. At the end of the sessions, Yahya Mawloud took the initiative to establishing an association with the goal of canvasing Lebanon for collecting feedback of local urgent needs to development.  Apparently, 300 university students joined the association called Youth Economic Forum, and were willing to pay about $15 per year as dues. The well-to-do and more engaged members contributed more to the treasury and enabled the association of undertaking its mission.  About 70 paying members participate every year in electing the benevolent board of directors.

Youth Economic Forum (YEF), headquartered in Badaro, organizes day-long conferences, two-day workshops in four districts, outside of the Capital Beirut.  The conferences are done in universities and students are invited to participate such as in Balamand, Lebanese International, NDU, Antounieh, Al Manar, USJ, Sagesse, LAU…  Workshops were initiated Nabatieh, Marje3youn, Majdal Anjar, Jeb Jenine, Zahleh, Baalbak, Koura, Tripoli, Mina, Badawi, Donnieh…

The conferences approach topics related to individual initiatives, creation of small enterprises, link between economy and higher education, role of youth, hardship of reality, disaster preparation…

The workshops training sessions relate to public policy research methodology, brainstorming sessions for feasible project ideas and plans, written evaluation procedures, filling forms for project grants…Workshop are planned to accommodate local mayors, elected officials, and local NGO in order to present the social and economic conditions and priority lists of urgent projects that government and authorities usually ignores or have limited engagement.

Economic development are divided into two main categories: Human development (education, health, housing, environment…) and economic development (fiscal policies, public transport, telecom, power generation, agriculture, administrative reforms…)  I think development categories should be separated along human development indicators as defined by the UN such as infantile mortality, elementary education, preventive health care, basic sanitation… and State investment in human skills, education programs, job creation, administrative reforms, direct access to forms and application…

It’s projected that within two months, Youth Economic Forum will publish 33 ideas for decentralized projects, ideas gathered and discussed in workshops around the country.  The ideas are meant to modernize Lebanon. USAID will incur the expense of publishing the booklet of ideas.

A few dedicated graduate students, barely earning a living, are doing great jobs.  The project manager earns $100 for a day work, the project coordinator $40, and the field officer $20.  No work, no pay. They sleep in inexpensive hostels ($25 per night).  The corporate does not offer health benefits, annual or sick leaves, does not withhold or file taxes on behalf of the contractor.  The contractor agrees to hold YEF harmless for any loss, damage, or injury incurred as a result of work under the agreement…

Note: Cedric designed the blog page  The blog shows details on the workshops, videos, and the schedule of workshops and conferences…




August 2011

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