Empowering local community structures for good governance in sub-national entities

The EU funded project for ‘enhancing citizens participation in sub-national good governance’ has resulted in a number of good practices, participants said at a conference in Kathmandu.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Participants at the Conference on Sub-National Good Governance in Nepal on Monday have said that by empowering the local community structures, such as tol, and the local people, many good results can be achieved in good governance in sub-national entities.

In the event organized by Sahakarmi Samaj, a consortium of IM Swedish Development Partner (IM), Dalit Development Society (DDS), Center for Dalit Women Nepal (CDWN) and Terre des hommes Foundation (Tdh),  stakeholders, including mayor from palikas of Karnali province, shared that local community structures, or tol organizations, should be formed and mobilized as a strong grassroots level citizen mechanism and government agencies and other non-government agencies should focus on strengthening their capacities and mobilization for the overall development practices at local level. According to them, coordination and collaboration between local and provincial governments must be enhanced. While provinces must collaborate with the local level to formulate their plan and policies, there must be an integrated grievance handling mechanism in all levels of government, they said. Participants also said that due to low budget volume and community demand, the community structures empowerment and mobilization part has not found enough attention and called on the development partners to focus on and contribute to this cause.

“More could be done but palikas face budget and resource constraints,” said CP Gharti Magar, who is the mayor of Bheri Municipality from Bajura district. “The allocated budget is not just enough.” “The tols have to be empowered to ensure greater citizen participation,” the mayor said.

Sushila Kumari Nepali, Treasurer at Navajyoti Community Group based in Shivalaya Rural Municipality in Jajarkot district, was of the view that while things are changing for the better many people are still not able to access affordable health and education services in Karnali. She said that palikas need to keep the marginalized people on priority. “While allocating budget, palikas should consider Dalit, women and people with disabilities and there should be awareness training for capacity building,” she said.  She said that local committees, including the users’ committees, need to be made inclusive by ensuring the participation of the marginalized people and communities in them.

 “When you work at tol level, you get greater support from the people. Development partners should reach out to the tols to address the root cause of the problem,” said Ananda Saru, Secretary of Provincial government in Karnali province. 

Eloisa ASTUDILLO, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal, addressing the program.

In the program, Eloisa ASTUDILLO, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal, shed light on the importance of empowering the marginalized groups. “Marginalized groups have their own voices. They have to begin with some platform to share and discuss their concerns and voices. So that they can have better relations with the local governments and access to services,” she said. She also added that marginalized groups should have a place in a dialogue so that they can come up with solutions for the community “because the solution must be in the community. “When we can facilitate community for their voices, and discuss solutions then only the government can make a proper plan and policies.” 

Addressing the program, Sudarshan Neupane, Head of Nepal Country Office of Terre des hommes Foundation (Tdh), highlighted the need for ensuring greater coordination among local government institutions and provincial institutions to ensure better participation of people in good governance. “Our learning has been that NGOs and INGOs should also work as per the local needs,” he said.

The conference was organized to mark the conclusion of ‘enhancing citizens participation in sub-national good governance project’ implemented by Sahakarmi Samaj in 12 Palikas of Salyan, Jajarkot and Kalikot districts, Karnali Province since 2019. The EU-funded project focused on enhancing participatory and cooperative relationships between citizens and local governments, and establishing cooperation and dialogue among local governments, between local and provincial governments and ministries to improve overall local service delivery and ensure reflection of local needs in programs and policies.

Sahakarmi Samaj shared the evidence-based advocacy practices and policy interventions to strengthen the sub-national good governance in Karnali province.  The four years long project has accomplished the successful implementation of its activities, according to Sahakarmi Samaj.