In 2012, Paul Nalau had been senior planning officer with Vanuatu's Ministry of Youth Development for 8 years. He had been involved with a number of initiatives to create opportunities for young people in employment, sport, and nation-building. In Vanuatu, population pressure magnified all the problems common to developing Pacific nations, such as rural-urban drift. Vanuatu's population growth was the fastest in the region, more than double the global average. Seventy percent of ni-Vanuatu were under 30, with a similar proportion affected by unemployment and social challenges such as domestic violence. The Ministry had managed to get youth issues on the government's Priority and Actions Agenda, establishing a network of Youth Councils at provincial and national level to guide policy development and create a new generation of youth leaders. In 2010 it achieved an unheard-of increase in budget, and in 2012 released a ten-year National Youth Development, Sport and Training Policy. However, it was operating in an environment of continuing political instability, with abrupt changes in the authorising environment, and major aid donors noting an overall lack of progress in key areas such as health and education. In 2012, a decision made by a newly elected government put progress in youth development at risk. This case can be used for a wide range of discussions beginning with issues facing leaders and change managers in developing nations, or in situations of political upheaval. It can also be used in wider contexts for a discussion of the options available through traditional overseas development aid, or by rethinking a regional approach. Another topic could be how leaders can build resilience. Initial development of the case was funded by the former Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Part B of the case describes the eventual outcome. The associated Background Note: Public Management Challenges in Vanuatu gives a comprehensive detail of the complex challenges the country continues to face.
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