A project supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD) has led the Moldovan Ministry of Youth and Sports to encourage youth participation in rural communities. Since 2009, the BTD grantee, the National Youth Resource Center (NYRC) of Moldova, has implemented a two-phase capacity-building and advocacy project for 210 members of 100 different local youth councils. Those young people received training in civic participation and were given the opportunity to share problems about day-to-day life for the youth of rural Moldova.

Pavlina Filipova, a BTD program officer, said that the project was designed to both mobilize youth councils and to create a space for dialogue between the councils and the Moldovan Ministry of Youth and Sports. “The disconnect of young people from community life is a real problem for youth in rural communities, and this needed recognition at the national level,” she said. “BTD considers projects focusing on youth involvement and engagement to be of utmost importance.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports decided to co-finance a Forum for Regional Youth Councils following the training. Youth council representatives from 27 of the 32 Moldovan regions and two municipalities came together for the first time in November 2010 to identify common problems and potential areas for collaboration, and to make recommendations to Ministry representatives for further courses of action.

Viorel Babii, NYRC program coordinator, emphasized the problems facing youths living in relatively isolated communities and the need for projects tackling these problems. “Young people have problems in developing the skills they need for employment, in accessing information or specialized services, and generally do not participate at the local level,” he said. “Emigration is also a serious problem – with no opportunities, many young people choose to leave.” This project and subsequent forum allowed youth council representatives to develop a channel of communication with each other and with the Ministry.
The recommendations made included increased grants for youth councils and resulted in the beginnings of a social mapping project in which NYRC and government representatives will work together to identify knowledge and support resources and ensure this information is widely available to youth throughout the country. The Ministry is also planning to involve local youth councils in the evaluation process of the existing Youth Strategy 2009 – 2013.