A bridge between Italy and Pakistan, a bridge between past and future

Luiss Business School, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and AICS Islamabad, present the results through the voice of the people involved in the “Youth Communicators for Development” project

Youth Communicators for Development


The “Youth Communicators for Development” (YCD) is not only a bridge between Italy and Pakistan, but also between past and future. This is the spirit of this two-year long partnership, co-organized by Luiss Business School, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and AICS Islamabad, in the framework of the “Programme for Poverty Reduction (PPR) in the rural areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Neighboring Areas”.

The PPR has been promoted and financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and International Cooperation) to PPAF for 40 million euros – now under completion – aimed to support the communities located near the border with Afghanistan towards their self-development. Also the PPR’s goal is to reduce the poverty of the population through the creation of sustainable conditions of social and economic development, including increase in income and productive capacity.

The YCD Project, led by Luiss Business School Professors Roberto Dandi (Project Coordinator) and Duilio Carusi (Project Manager), is one of the actions set forth by PPAF in the PPR’s framework to contribute to the sustainability of the communities’ multisectoral activities by involving: 17 partner organizations, 38 local governments in 14 of the least developed districts of Pakistan.

«The YCD Project is very much in line with the mission of Luiss Business School, the place where students translate academic knowledge into concrete actions, to face the global challenges related to the evolution of our economy and society – said Raffaele Oriani Head Custom Programs & Consulting – So this is a perfect example of a project that has potentially an impact not only on the economic side, but also on social side and in particular to challenge the politicians worldwide. We are celebrating the end of this program, but this can become the start of a new sets of collaborations for the next years».

This project enhanced the importance of the role of youth, university, business community and territorial institutions to strengthen the capacity of communities’ self-development and boosted up the relationships between Pakistan and Italy. The project has enhanced the importance of the role of young people in the dialogue with local institutions and businesses. Their commitment in the field is the most important bet that Dr. Emanuela Benini, Country Director AICS Office in Pakistan, has won in these two years.

«The Italian cooperation has been working in in the Central America and the Caribbean, in Senegal and also in other places of the world towards developing youth. We wanted to achieve the same here in Pakistan – said Benini – We are very happy to listen communicators for development about two years of achievements and to your dreams as well. And the way it has been organized, with this real partnership, a full partnership between the Italian and the Pakistani government, between the PPS and Luiss Business School. I really can tell it has been a real teamwork, as it should be, and I want to thank all the universities. It starts a real bridge between Italy and Pakistan and with vary universities. The communicators who are going to reach between the communities and their territories throughout universities is going to be a very precious tool».  «Pakistan and Italy have excellent bilateral relations – explained Andreas Ferrarese, H.E. the Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan – We have an excellent collaboration that got to a multilateral level, especially within the United Nation. After Brexit, Italy is hosting the biggest Pakistani community in the European Union: they are between 150 and 200 thousand. This community is going to increase in number because of family reunification and because of the attraction that Italy has on many pakistanis. So, this is time that bilateral relation can have a further boost and to be extended both in the economic and trade relations, but also in the cultural and academic actions. Pakistan is important for Italy also because from a general point of view is a strategic country in Asia. Given this context, there is a huge potential that we have to increase: the collaboration between the universities and cultural structures of the two countries. I will be fully committed to work for that, to pose the basis for further developments. Many young and brilliant Pakistani have the possibility to give an extremely great contribution to their country to the development and to bring development test and and prosperity to all the parts of this great country».

«Italy and Pakistan have common perceptions on international issues – explained Jauhar Saleem, H.E. the Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy – We have excellent cultural relations. There’s much more to do and I’m sure that together will be making a lot of endeavors that regard as well the potential for tourism and for people-to-people contact. What medium will be could have done better? I must commend Luiss Business School for dabbling into that area. I see a lot of potential there. You have a very dynamic, very motivated youth. There are certain areas where there is execellence, for example in information technology, which is one of the fields of the future as this pandemic has brought out quite clearly that our technology will be the basis of future development. What Luiss has been doing? Collaborating with the embassy: we have an internship program, we also hire people graduates of the Luiss University. The agencies which are involved in these programs are the type which develop linkages that lasts. This is a Legacy in terms of contributing to the bilateral relations between the two countries. There is a great need in Pakistan to develop skills in young people. It has much to be learned, much to collaborate».

«PPR aims to bring sustainability to the Social and economic development of Pakistan – explained Shakira Allahbaksh, Youth Communicator for Development – It created a bridge between community and youth to bring change with engagement and sustainable solutions, with the large or linkage between Italian academia with different universities. The project end to promote youth participation in social and economic context of rural areas and different highly educational institutes. On my point of view, the most interesting and learning part of the program are that, because of it, starts our responsibility that involve the communities properties and what they expect from us, the youth: to get a closer picture of struggles, problems and solutions. It also created a large network of youth, to work and connect together as a team across Pakistan. Our future goals? They’re totally on the communities, which have to evolve».

«It was a very large project of 40 million euros, it worked in 14 districts, 38 unite councils, with 17 partners and a phenomenal range of activities, from constructing basic infrastructure to providing high education, combined with the unique Italian flavor about promoting culture and sustainable tourism. All of those aspects are typically Italian, and we all benefit from them – added Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO, PPAF-Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund – It’s been a fantastic partnership with Luiss for the quality of people and professors, and the respect they show up on the doorstep. The passion was contagious, and we hope that this partnership can continue».

The YCD Project goals and processes

Supported by a local partner, Bahria University, Luiss Business School trained 94 students and 15 teachers from 5 Pakistani universities (Chitral, Lasbela, Malakand, Swat, Turbat) chosen from target areas, to become effective leaders, communicators and agence of change for their communities. At the heart of the program is the empowerment of the communities to plan, create and manage their own programs.

Since 2013 PPR has allowed households to increase their incomes and productions capacity. It has enabled communities to develop small skill infrastructures providing easier access to safe drinking water, secure and stable bridges, paved roads and renewable energy projects. Sustanibility lies at the foundation of the program.

«This project had the goal to promote youth participation in the social and economic context of the rural area of these of two provinces Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – said Roberto Dandi, Project Coordinator, Luiss Business School – This effort is actually very critical because the communication for development. movement is an entirely different approach than traditional corporation for development because where the local communities are passive beneficiaries of services and funds here, with communication for development, we want the communities to become protagonists oftheir self development, through these bridges, which are the young communicator».

Students have been sent out, into the field, to gather data. Now they are completing their reports on topics such as sustainable tourism, women’s education, rural development, child labor, health and nutrition, and drug addiction.

«It’s been an amazing and exciting journey for all of us – said Saira Ahmed, Representative of Pakistan Italy Alumni Network – Emanuela Benini is the person behind the model of this multi-sectoral and multi stakeholders project. She engaged the very gross roots of society and underdevelopped areas and youth: living in an urban city myself, I feel that we need to give them more attention and avaliable resources. Universities collaboration has been another important aspect. The most important thing has been to translate our efforts into the linkages between research, education and labour. The bilateral cooperation in this time of very nasty, global pandemic that has it us all, haven’t been possible without the support of you all».

As the stories told demonstrate, the YCD Project could be the first step to strengthen the bond between Pakistan and Italy, but also to build a bridge between past and future in these countries.