LWF Nepal monthly report - Jun 2005

1. National/Political Events

Political maneuverings continued in June as well with none of the conflicting sides coming near to any solution. Maoists called an indefinite traffic ban along the highways connecting Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts as a protest against the killing of their cadres by the security forces. Hundreds of passengers were left stranded on the highways after the ban was imposed. Reports of attack by the Maoists and clashes between the Maoists and the security forces continued to appear in the newspapers. Clashes were reported at Dhanusha, Dailekh, Kailali, Pyuthan, Kavre, Dhankuta and many other districts. Many security forces, civilians and Maoists lost their lives in such clashes. In addition, at least four people were killed and six others injured in a Maoist triggered landmine explosion in Kapilvastu district in Western Nepal. At least four Armed Police Force security personnel and two civilians (including a11 year old girl) were injured when a vehicle they were traveling in narrowly missed a Maoist planted landmine in Nepalgunj on their way to Kohalpur VDC in the Midwestern Nepal. Likewise at least two children were killed and three others injured when they played with a stray bomb in Amkhaiya Jungle in Kailali district. The children were grazing their livestock in the jungle when the incident occurred. This month, Indian security forces too were involved in a clash with the Maoists as they tried to destroy a joint training center of the Nepalese and Indian Maoists located in the bordering area. The training center is reported to have been operating trainings for the Maoists of both the countries. Likewise, Indian police arrested three injured Nepalese Maoists from Behiya, India.

Abductions and disappearances inflicted by the state as well as the Maoists seems to be on rise. The Maoist rebels abducted six social workers and 30 people from Baitadi district in the Far-western Nepal. Many security forces and political parties workers were also abducted in Ilam district. National Human Rights Commission, the NHRC, has been appealing the Maoists to immediately release those abducted. Human rights organization including Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) and OMCT network meanwhile have requested the release of political leaders who were arbitrarily arrested and detained along with several other political activists and human rights defenders, following the royal move on 1 February 2005. Between 1 February and 7 June 2005, more than 3,400 political activists and human rights defenders were arrested. Such arbitrary arrest and detention by both conflicting parties is direct violation of the commitment on the Implementation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The number of people displaced by the conflict is increasing steadily. Estimates of the numbers of Nepal's internally displaced people (IDPs who have not crossed international borders) vary widely, from 200,000 to 500,000 at least 400,000 and possibly as many as two million more having crossed into India to flee the conflict, according to Refugees International analysts. In the month of June, it was reported that 150 families from Baglung district have moved to India following the acute shortage of food. The food scarcity has affected 30,000 people in the area. Nepal Food Corporation used to supply over 2000 quintals of rice every year in the past. But the food supply in the district has remained suspended over the past three years owing to security situation; in the past the Maoists have looted the food several times when the foods were on the way for distribution. The locals are not able to transport food by themselves due to poor road conditions. With the advent of monsoon, the situation is expected to get worse.

The major political parties meanwhile continued their protest programs against the royal move. They have been blaming the King for not being much interested in resolving Maoist problem in the country. As quoted by the newspaper, “All political parties have reached a consensus that the ongoing conflict should be resolved through political means. The king in the other hand publicly blamed the 15 years of democracy for all the trouble that the country is now facing during his address during the summit of G-77 countries in Doha. The journalists too have been organizing protest programs against state control over the press. It came as a surprise to many when Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist requested the seven political party alliance to come forward with an authorized team to hold dialogues to end the existing political stalemate in the country. Political leaders have welcomed the call cautiously and have expressed their commitment to hold dialogue with the Maoists to bring the rebels into the political mainstream. Meanwhile, the government spokesman has warned that the government would treat the political parties and the Maoists equally if they join hands. It the Maoists and Political parties indeed join hands, the conflict in the country would take the shape of two-sided tussle between the king and alliance of political parties. Another development in the Maoist movement is that the two top Maoists leaders viz. Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda presumably have joined hands and decided to steer their movement with full determination. The recent decision could have been a fear of the possibility of the Maoists party going to disintegrate.

A high-level UN team headed by Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi arrived on a six-day visit in Kathmandu to help Nepal find a peaceful resolution to current conflict. Brahimi met the King, senior government officials and leaders of various political parties. Vice-Chairman of Council of Ministers has however ruled out the possibility of the United Nations involvement in resolving the ongoing conflict in Nepal since he opined that government was competent enough to tackle the problem on its own. He however mentioned that the government would ask for the UN’s help only when it becomes necessary.

In the Bhutanese refugee front, the refugees have been demanding that UNHCR should make concerted efforts to initiate talks with the King of Bhutan to reach a durable solution. However, there has not been any significant progress to end the decade long crisis.

The European Commission has decided to grant assistance of over Rs 259 million (EURO 2,820,000) under the Conflict Mitigation Package (CMP) in Nepal. The grant will be made available to non-profit making Local or European Non-governmental Organizations for 2005. The general objective of the program is to address the constraints of the vulnerable populations and the poorest groups particularly in the mid-western Nepal and to reduce the current conflict potential by improving socio-economic conditions.

2. Program Overview

There was no improvement in the political situation of the country. Frequent strikes and security problems continued to pose challenge in the implementation of the program especially in the conflict-affected area. However, the staff members of LWF Nepal and its partner organizations managed to keep the program running through the local community based organizations. The members of the local community too have been enthusiastic and flexible in implementing the activities. Participation of the locals in various training programs particularly the skill development training programs have been very encouraging.

Refugee camp care and maintenance activities were also implemented smoothly. Refugee host community support program also continued well. Several training programs including those for differently able people and disadvantaged communities were organized. HIV/AIDS programme geared momentum through the network of peer educators in central and the eastern region including the refugee camps.

3. Development Programmes (Nepal Development Programme)

3.1. Western Region

The situation in the west hasn’t improved much. Reports of ambushes, abductions, clashes, bomb and landmine explosions in the west continue to appear in the headlines of the newspapers. In the month of June, staff members at WRCU participated in the meetings organized by the partner organizations in Banke, Doti and Kailali districts in the west to review the plan and budget and necessary revisions were made. Where possible the staff members have been visiting the field to observe the ongoing program activities.

Sahakarmi Samaj (partner organization in Banke district) completed a training program on ‘Group Strengthening’ in 2 new VDCs in Banke district and also organized three day long training program on ‘book keeping’ and ‘fund management’ for the members of the CBO. A program was also organized in new working VDCs to analyze the problems in the community. The locals of the village themselves take a lead in outlining the problems they are facing and draw an action plan to solve them during such programs. CBOs throughout the district celebrated the ‘Environment day’ with programs aiming to increase awareness about cleaner environment. Regular meetings and interaction programs were organized by the CBOs throughout the months. CEAPRED in Banke district also organized training programs on ‘compost (manure) making’ and ‘kitchen gardening’ for 207 participants. Likewise training program on ‘goat raising’ was also organized for 12 households. Field technicians continued providing technical support to the farmers and livestock raising members throughout the month. 20 treadle pumps were distributed to two CBOs to improve irrigation system in the villages.

Partner organizations in Kailali district also organized several training programs for the members of groups and CBOS. KPUS (freed Kamaiya partner organization) distributed scholarship to 15 high school students (including 4 girl), 15 lower secondary students (including 9 girls) and 16 orphan students (including 7 girls). School enrollment campaign organized in two VDCs resulted in enrolment of 146 students in the local schools. 13 new groups were formed during the month. Issues related to health and HIV/AIDS were given much priority through training programs and, interaction programs. Yes Nepal (partner organization) organized a training program on HIV/AIDS for 18 school students and 19 schoolteachers. Likewise discussions on seasonal health issues were organized with 25 groups in the district. CEAPRED continued providing technical support to the farmers and organized training programs on vegetable cultivation.

In Doti district, SEBAC Nepal (implementing partner) organized a daylong VDC level interaction on domestic violence and legal rights. 40 participants (including 18 female) participated in the program. Meetings of the Disaster Management Committees were organized. Public audit of the School Support Program was also organized by SEBAC. Such public audits helps to maintain transparency in the financial transactions

3.2. Eastern Region

All the implementing partners continued implementing the development programs in the region. WDA -- Salakpur (implementing partner) organized interaction program where 285 participants (female 209 and male 76) discussed the social issues hindering their progress. Likewise 98 groups organized their regular meetings and revised their plan and budget. VDC level interaction meetings was also organized and public audit of the program activities implemented in the past were also completed. As a result of institutional development training programs, 8 groups from Pathariya VDC prepared their constitution and submitted to the VDC for registration. Evaluation of 14 groups at Pathariya VDC was also completed. It was found that institutional development skills was lacking in 7 groups.

‘Legal Empowerment Education Program’ currently running in 23 centers is expected to be completed by end of July. A total of 332 female participants have been participating in the program. Likewise 193 (184 female and 9 male) are participating in 4 month-long ‘General Education Program’ at Pathariya VDC. 185 children (girls 92, boys 93) were enrolled in the local schools after completion of the CEEP program. Other training programs such as on ‘Book keeping’, ‘Project cycle management’, and ‘Off-seasonal vegetable production’ were also organized during the month.

Partner organizations have been supporting the groups with livestock and other inputs for agriculture and irrigation. 35 members from 14 groups from Kechana and Pathamari VDCs received 37 goats at 50 percent subsidy and a sprayer machine and diesel pump on lease. With support from WDA, a CBO was able to construct 16 Dheeki (treadle) pump for irrigation. CBOs in Pathamari and Pathariya VDCs have initiated a construction of a shed to facilitate sales of vegetables while a CBO started fish farming in June.

Health issues were discussed with 48 groups during the month. Importance of clean drinking water supply system and construction of family latrines were highlighted in such discussions. Two groups constructed three latrines after attending the program and other are also following suit. Likewise 14 groups at Pathariya VDC installed 16 hand pumps and three groups from Pathariya VDC have request WDA to support the construction of drinking water supply system in their village.

DEPROSC implementing partner of micro finance continued the program smoothly. So far 524 groups have been formed, 24 more than the targeted 500 groups. DEPROSC has been able to disburse the loan with zero rate of default. The micro finance program has become a popular one in the region as it enables the locals from disadvantaged communities to access loan at a minimal rate of interest. It is observed that the members usually prefer to rear cattle and other livestock, start retail shop, buy rickshaw or start vegetable production and trading with the loan received. Most of the members are earning an additional income of Rs. 1300-1600 (USD 20) per month from the micro enterprises undertaken. Such additional income has of course helped them meet the education needs of their children.

3.3. Central Region

CEAPRED (implementing partner) organized training programs on vegetable cultivation for the farmers from Lalitpur district. 12 new nurseries were established during the month. Semi annual review and planning meetings were organized with the groups to assess their progress and needs. It was found that the farmers involved in the trade of vegetables and livestock have been able to increase their monthly income significantly. Though the forthcoming training programs and supplies of agricultural inputs are mainly focused for the ‘Dalit ‘ members there is a heavy demand for the same from other members as well. An exposure trip was organized for 34 farmers from Lamatar and Chapagaon VDCs. These members will plan activities for the forthcoming month based on the lessons learnt from the exposure trip. Next month, CEAPRED will organize training programs on mushroom cultivation.

DEPROSC (implementing partner in Ramechhap district) organized a 3-day long training program on cash crop and off-season vegetable production for 16 production groups. 5 vegetable farmers from the groups are now self-employed. Such training programs are organized after a great deal of coordination with District agriculture Development Office (DADO). The ‘children development program’ organized by DEPROSC focused on enrolment of the children who have dropped out from school and financial support was extended to 50 students to pursue their education in the local schools. Training programs on ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ were organized for the children while training programs on ‘savings management’ and ‘para-veterinary’ was organized for the members of the group. HIV /AIDS awareness program was also initiated in the district by using the peer education approach.

Management guideline of central region was finalized. The list of implementing and networking partners in the region including the new partners is given in the tables.

Networks in Central Region: Implementing Partners in Central Region:
NSET: Disaster preparedness STEP-Nepal: HIV/AIDS Programme
DPNET: Disaster preparedness network CEAPRED: Agriculture & Livelihood programs
AIN: Association of International NGOs in Nepal FEDO: Dalit Empowerment program
Dalit Support Group NNDSWO: Dalit Empowerment program through mass media campaigns
Nepal Participatory Action Network DWO: Dalit Empowerment program through mass media campaigns and operating a Dalit Girl’s Hostel
HIVAIDS Alliances MEET Nepal: IDPs and Institutional support
National Alliance for Global Call for Poverty Reduction MANUSHI: IDPs
Safe Motherhood DEPROSC: Micro-finance program in Lalitpur District & Empowerment program in Ramechchap District
SAN: Silk Association of Nepal NRCS: Disaster relief
Child Club Consortium
JUP- Kathmandu
GCDC- Kathmandu
Martin Choutari: Research & Publication

4. Relief and Rehabilitation

4.1. Bhutanese Refugee Project (BRP)

The refugee care and maintenance program was implemented smoothly as per the schedule. Shelters of schools and community health organizations were repaired as per the plan. Refugees continued to raise their voice requesting for support to repair all the huts in the camps. Repair and maintenance activities have been delayed to some extent due to the same. Procurement of materials for repairing about 25 percent of the shelters in very bad shape was however initiated in June. But due to the short supply, the suppliers have not been able to supply good quality thatch. LWF Nepal therefore has been providing tarpaulin/plastic sheets as a temporary measure. LWF will also issue bamboo panels (pilot project started in Timai) to the refugees to maintain their huts. Likewise, LWF Nepal has also started training program on production of RCC poles. The RCC poles will be used for the refugee huts in the camp. Electrification work was also completed in Beldangi-II and extension camps. Similar electrification work will be carried out in Goldhap and Khudunabari camps. Re-fitting work is required for the Saniscahre camp electricity line as there is frequent break down (fusing) problems.

Water supply systems in the camp have been running well. LWF Nepal has been planning to establish ‘gravity flow’ water supply system in Timai refugee camp instead of constructing new boreholes in the camp. The project is expected to support both the refugees and the host community since it will save the cost of construction and petroleum products in the future.

BRWF (refugee implementing partner organization) has been implementing the community development activities in al the refugee camps. Training program on ‘stove repair’ was completed in all the camps for 70 persons and a 2-day long training program on ‘group management’ has been initited for leaders of social groups. Likewise several social awareness programs were organized and a daylong orientation on the social program was also organized for the members of advisory board to familiarize them on the role of social group in minimizing social evils in the camps. 250 social groups are working actively in the refugee camps.

16 centers for ‘Women In Business classes’ are running well in all the refugee camps. The participants have been able to establish 12-15 small shops in the camps by mobilizing their group savings and putting the skills learnt into practice. Community Sewing Center is also running well. Those trained on ‘sewing and cutting’ in the past, have been providing their service in the centers at a minimal cost. BRWF has been organizing and monitoring regular meetings of the groups to maintain close coordination and networking amongst them. Children Forum activities are also running well. The program has made significant contribution in increasing awareness about child rights thereby decreasing child abuse. BRAVVE (another refugee implementing partner) has also been organizing regular skill development training programs.

4.2. Refugee Affected Rehabilitation Project (RARP)

LWF Nepal continued the refugee host communities support programs (RHCSP) under NCA/DCA grants. Empowerment Education Classes (EEP) is running well in 8 centers in Jhapa and Morang districts through 7 local NGOs. A total of 200 participants will be able to learn to read and write, work in-group and will also become aware about health and sanitation issues. 10 months long ‘women in business’ classes are also running well in 8 centers. 300 participants of the program have organized themselves into groups and are saving regularly to initiate micro enterprise in the near future. LWF Nepal organized several vocational training programs through the local NGOs in Jhapa and Morang districts. For example, a 7-day long training program on making bamboo furniture was organized for 45 participants and bicycle and rickshaw repair for 45 participants during the month. An arrangement has also been made with a local NGO to organize training program on ‘Computer Hardware’ for 20 girls from the host communities. Likewise, training programs on plumbing and house wiring, electronic, photography, beautician and handcraft making have been initiated through a local NGO. It is expected that the training programs will help the participants to start small business and raise their level of income.

LWF Nepal has also been helping the organizations working for differently able people with various skill development-training programs. As in the past, LWF Nepal supported Mechi Deaf Association to organize sewing and cutting training program for 15 participants from Khudunabari, Arjundhara and Laxmipur VDCs. With support from LWF Nepal, Purbanchal Deaf Association has been organizing training rogram on Bamboo furniture making for 15 participants.

To help uplift the economic condition of ‘Dhimals’ a disadvantaged community, LWF Nepal has been supporting an institution of the Dhimals to organize a training program on ‘Commercial Vegetable Cultivation’ for 26 Dhimal families from Shantinager VDC. Commercial vegetable production program are also implemented by Arjundhara DMC at Arjundhara VDC and other local NGOs in Budhbare and Lakhnpur VDCs in Jhapa district.

LWF Nepal also provided financial assistance for the construction of buildings, toilet and furniture for 17 schools. The management committee of the schools will also contribute to the construction.

4.3. Disaster Preparedness

Though monsoon arrived quite late in Nepal this year, by the end of June water level in most of the major rivers (Koshi, Rapti, Karnali, Babai, Bagmati, Lalbakaiya) in southern plain swelled up significantly thereby causing flood and landscape mainly in the western region of Nepal. It was reported that in a case of a landslide, six people lost their lives while five are still missing. Road transportation was hindered to some extend in the hilly districts due to the landslide. The government has been organizing several coordination meetings to assess the situation and also to prepare itself should disaster strike at a larger scale. LWF Nepal has beenfollowing up regularly as well in an effort to mobilize relief operation if there is a need.

Disaster Management Committees (DMC) in Jhapa, Morang and Kailali districts have been implementing small-scale measures to control flooding and land erosions. For example, DMCs in Kalena and Sanagaun in Doti district planted 6,000 saplings in landslide prone area. The plantation was organized in collaboration with government land reform and forest offices. Efforts to prevent flooding have proved to be quite successful in some VDCs of Jhapa district.

4.4. Gender Sensitive HIV/AIDS

Implementing partner organizations of HIV/AIDS program continued the regular activities through the network of peer educators. STEP Nepal organized several training programs including ‘leadership training’ for its peer educators in Lalitpur district. A daylong orientation was organized for people working in restaurants and hotels in close collaboration with Reproductive Health Committee. An interaction of the peer educators was also organized to enhance learning from each other. The peer educators have been making an effort to develop a network of peer educators at a District level. They were actively involved in organizing training programs, orientations and street dramas to create awareness about HIV/AIDS in their villages. Staff member of the organization regularly participated in the district level networking meetings. 5 social activists (1 male, 4 female) were hired to improve obilization of the peer educators. An interaction of the religious leaders and workshop of the single women are scheduled to be organized in the forthcoming month.

SADG in the east, organized meetings, workshops and training programs for 99 peer educators (51 female, 48 male) from Sanischare, Khudunabari and Pritivinagar VDCs of Jhapa districts to enhance their understanding on issues related to HIV/AIDS/STIs. Training on ‘Behavior change’ was also organized by SADG for 20 peer educators. In June, peer educators from Prithivinagar organized a daylong interaction on HIV/AIDS with 14 religious leaders. The peer educators also organized 5 sharing programs on HIV/AIDS in various schools of Sanischare, Jhapa in coordination with the schoolteachers. 324 (92 female, 132 male) school students participated in the programs. A two-day long program on HIV/AIDS was also organized for 64 women (mothers) and a mass interaction program was organized in Sanischare VDC in Jhapa district. 249 people (162 were female and 87) from the local community participated in the program.

AMDA implementing partner in the refuge camps organized a two-day long training program on HIV/AIDS at Beldangi I, Beldangi- II ext, Sanischare, Khudunabari and Timai refugee camps. A total of 116 students (58 female, 58 were male) participated in the program. Parents were also present at the program. A daylong interaction of the peer educators and camp officials was also organized to enhanceknowledge and coordination of HIV/AIDS related issues in the camps.

5. Advocacy/Networking Partners

NNDSWO and DWO (partner organizations) continued media advocacy by using the national TV and radio. Message related to citizenship rights of ‘Badi ‘ (sex workers by profession) was aired frequently through the TV. DWO meanwhile aired messages related to the rights of the Dalits to enter public places including temples. The organization has been organizing campaigns to help the Dalits enter the temples at Kanchanpur district. In June, DWO organized a workshop of the Listeners’ clubs from Kanchanpur and Dhangadi in the west to help them network and coordinate their activities for a common cause to eliminate caste discrimination. One of the listener’s club was able to acquire resources from DFID- non government agency to improve drinking water supply system in the village.

FEDO (advocacy partner) organized a sensitisation program on ‘Gender’ at Jharuwarasi and Godamchaur VDCs in Lalitpur district. After attending the programs, participants (29 women and 14 men) decided to form a committee to monitor gender discrimination in their own VDCs. Increasing the number of male participants in such programs has however posed as a challenge. Likewise, a daylong training program was organized to familiarize the locals about human rights and rights of women to divorce and marriage. In June, social immobilisers of the organization met 20 groups of women to discuss the social issues and problems in the village. Feedback from such meetings helps the organization to organize training and sensitisation programs in the village. It is observed that the regular attendance of the members of the groups and meetings and other programs has increased significantly. The organization has been participating in the district level meetings of the government and putting forward the cases of discrimination towards Dalit women. As a result of continuous lobbying, the district office has agreed to provide scholarship to 43 Dalit children from the district. In June, members of Janachetana women’s saving group from Champi VDC was able to acquire Rs 15,000 (USD 200) for the construction of pig sties and Rs. 15,000 from the VDC office for the installation of tube wells in the village. The members plan to mobilize their own resources as well for the installation.

The United Nations Coordination Unit/ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has recently launched a website called the UN Nepal Information Platform, to provide one stop information on a broad range of humanitarian, development and human rights issues in Nepal. The website will make it easy to collect and disseminate information and also improve coordination of humanitarian activities in a particular district. LWF Nepal has been actively updating relevant information in the website.

6. Organizational Development/ Personnel/ Administration/ Training/ Workshop

Customized training programs on various computer applications were organized for staff members in Kathmandu Coordination office.