The Asia Foundation launches USAID CSM program in Nepal’s Lumbini Province

On April 13, 2023, The Asia Foundation launched the USAID Civil Society and Media (CSM) program in Nepal’s Lumbini Province. Chief Minister of Lumbini Province, Lila Giri, and Mission Director of USAID Nepal, Sepideh Keyvanshad, jointly announced the formal commencement of the five-year USAID CSM program (2022-2027) at the event in the city of Butwal.

Funded by USAID through the Civil Society and Media – Standing Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND) Leader with Associate (LWA) award, the Foundation is implementing the $18.5 million program in two provinces, Lumbini and Madhesh. The program’s overarching goal is to support independent civil society and media led by and for Women, Youth, and Marginalized (WYM) communities through innovative interventions, challenge funds, and grants designed through co-creation workshops. The participatory approach to designing the interventions and grants ensures that the program caters to the specific needs and challenges of its target groups – WYM communities.

At the event, Chief Minister Giri expressed hope that USAID CSM would elevate the voice of the voiceless in media and civic space. Similarly, Sepideh Keyvanshad noted, “Diverse, broad-based engagement to solve community challenges is a hallmark of a free and open society.  We are proud to be able to partner with Nepal to continue to support the country’s democracy.”

Local elected representatives, government officials, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), media, as well as representatives of WYM communities attended the event.

Group of attendees on stage in front of event graphic

At the launch event, the program also announced the media fellowship in the presence of three fellows representing WYM communities under the media challenge fund. The three fellows are Rose Magar – a digital creator from the minority transgender community, Ranjeet Lohar – a journalist from the marginalized Dalit community; and Pooja Baisha – a youth activist. The fellows will use various tools of activism, such as visual story, audio drama, and social media posts and videos to bring diverse narratives from the grass roots.

Challenge fund is a key component of the program and offers a unique opportunity for civil society and media organizations to innovate ideas to diversify and amplify the voice and narratives of WYM communities. The program recognizes the need for a vibrant ecosystem of strong and independent civil society and media to strengthen Nepal’s democracy. After Lumbini, the Foundation will formally launch the USAID CSM program in Madhesh Province.

Related locations: Nepal
Related programs: Good Governance

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