Students Offer Insight to Millennium Challenge Corporation

On 11 February 2015, the ICMS welcomed the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), officials from the American Embassy and USAID, as well as outstanding student representatives from several Nepalese universities for a round table discussion on innovative ways to address development challenges in Nepal.

Ms. Dana Hyde, CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation, is greeted by Pragya Adhikari at the ICMS.

Dana Hyde, CEO of MCC, opened the event by announcing that Nepal will become MCC's newest compact partner. The MCC works with developing countries to reduce poverty through programs aimed at sustainable economic growth and committed to investing in human capital. Ms. Hyde sought the insight of students from Kathmandu University, Tribhuvan University and Mid-Western University on the problems and potential in Nepal's development. Sahara Joshi, Siddhartha Sharma, and Subash Thapaliya - third semester students in Crisis Management – represented the ICMS.

Third semester students Subash Thapaliya, Siddhartha Sharma, and Sahara Joshi represented the ICMS at the event.

The discussion focused on three sectors integral to long term development and economic growth: infrastructure, energy and education. Several students noted that the poor conditions of roads and other infrastructure create significant barriers to productivity and economic growth across the country. Rubina Pradhan and Rasna Prajapati, students pursuing their Master's in Development Studies at Kathmandu University, pointed out that infrastructure construction projects tend to displace local communities and to provide only short term employment.

Siddhartha Sharma and Subash Thapaliya of the ICMS outlined how extended load shedding periods and other capacity problems within the energy create serious obstacles for business owners in the country. While several high level energy agreements with India and other SAARC countries represent opportunities for Nepal, Supal Raj Joshi of Tribhuvan University's International Relations and Diplomacy program emphasized the need for political stability and changes in the energy sector in order to realize their full potential.

In the end, all participants agree that the crucial issue underpinning all these challenges is a renewed commitment to better, more relevant education programs. Chittranjan Pandey, from Mid-Western University's master's program in International Co-operation and Development, explained how difficulty accessing high quality education relevant to the needs of today's economy has stifled growth. Partnerships with companies building large infrastructure and energy projects to provide equip local workers with the technical expertise are crucial to sustainability, according to Ravi Koirala of the Mechanical Engineering program at Kathmandu University. As noted by Kanchan Kharel, president of YUWA, a greater investment in Nepal's greatest resource – its human capital – will be the key to realizing the country's true economic potential.

From left to right: Ravi Koirala (Kathmandu University), Kanchan Kharel (President of YUWA), and Sweta Khadka (Tribhuvan University)

Ms. Hyde closed the event by thanking the students for their valuable insights into the economic, geopolitical, and human aspects of the development challenges facing Nepal. She emphasized MCC's commitment to environmentally and economically sound projects and commended the optimism and hope embodied by the enthusiasm and wisdom of the students in attendance.