Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

Posts Tagged ‘Governance’

AID POLICY: Piecing together the Chinese aid jigsaw

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 19, 2011

London, , 19 October 2011 (IRIN) – No one would claim that it is easy to nail down the exact details of the Chinese aid budget, but does Chinese aid deserve the kind of adjectives often applied to it? Is it really “veiled and opaque”? “Wrapped in mystery”? And if it is this un-transparent, is that because everything depends on a secret centralized masterplan in Beijing, or because the system is so disorganized that no one actually knows the whole story of what is going on? 


Sven Grimm and colleagues from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa set out to assess how opaque Chinese aid to Africa actually is. They started while on a field trip to Rwanda, asking questions about how much Chinese aid the country received. “The first thing we found,” said Grimm, “was that a lot of people who should know, don’t actually know.”

In China itself, they initially found the same thing when they questioned Chinese officials, members of think-tanks and academics working in the field of Chinese-African relations. “Their first reaction tended to be, ‘We don’t know. You will have to ask the African governments.”

But once you start digging, said Grimm, you find there is more information out there than you would think. His newly published report on the Transparency of Chinese Aid offers a guidebook for researchers, detailing where to look, and what information they might find. Read the rest of this entry »

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NEPAL: Women activists demand to see new draft constitution

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2011

KATHMANDU, 8 August 2011 (IRIN) – Women’s rights groups in Nepal say they are being left out of negotiations at a

Photo: Amy Lieberman/IRIN Female activists feel they have been sidelined

critical time, weeks before the country’s Constituent Assembly (CA) is meant to agree on a new constitution.

“We need a constitution in time and we need a women-friendly constitution,” Bijaya Karishma, a programme officer for Sankalpa, a women’s alliance campaigning for peace, justice and democracy, told IRIN. “We have the right to see a draft and are concerned that we have not.”

Women’s rights advocates say they have the most to gain or lose with this constitution: they expect it will grant women rights to pass on citizenship to their children and to independently own property. They also hope it will mandate 50 percent female representation at all levels of government.

But these advocates, like the rest of the public, are still waiting to see the constitution’s draft. They say the release of the document is the first step to opening up the political process.

They will probably be kept in the dark well past 31 August – the third deadline since 2008 for the constitution’s completion – as certain political sticking points, like the reintegration of Maoist fighters into the army, remain unresolved.

Vigil

The lapsed deadline will bring more of the same for the women’s rights advocates: long days spent holding vigil, as they call it, outside the national parliament building’s gates.

“We have to be watchdogs. We have to help ensure that there is an end to this peace-building process,” said Rita Thapa, founder of Sankalpa.  Read the rest of this entry »

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IRIN Africa | MADAGASCAR: Sex for school fees | Madagascar | Children | Economy | Education | Gender Issues | Governance

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 2, 2011

 

 

ANTANANARIVO, 1 August 2011 (IRIN) – The ambition of 16-year-old Madagascan schoolgirl Nadine* is to open a clothes boutique after completing a college course in textile design, but in the meantime, along with eight of her friends, she has turned to sex work to pay her tuition fees. Charging up to US$7 a time, she works in the poor Antananarivo suburb of 67 Hectares. 


“The reason I sought money is because my parents were in financial difficulty. They have difficulties and I can help them. It’s me who’s paid my school fees since I was 13 years old. I was scared but I made an effort because of my parents’ money problems,” she told IRIN.

“Most of them [my friends] are like me; they are looking after their parents [through sex work]”, she said.

Anecdotal evidence of the increasing numbers of commercial sex workers and growing homelessness in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, is providing a snapshot of a country’s descent into deeper poverty.

More than three years after Andry Rajoelina deposed President Marc Ravalomanana with the help of the military, the imposition of international sanctions, the cancellation of preferential trade agreements and the withdrawal of international aid are driving up the social indicators of desperation. IRIN Africa | MADAGASCAR: Sex for school fees | Madagascar | Children | Economy | Education | Gender Issues | Governance.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Community-based adaptation in action

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 26, 2011

JOHANNESBURG, 26 April 2011 (IRIN) –  Nepal has become one of the first countries to consider scaling up

Photo: Peter Murimi/IRIN Sujit Kumar Mondal and his wife Rupashi Mondal of Gopalgonj district in southern Bangladesh working in their floating garden

community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change and making it part of national development policy.

Nepal is vulnerable to rising global temperatures and has already been dealing with the impact of erratic rainfall, frequent droughts and floods, which have been affecting food security. In response the country decided to experiment with a bottom-up approach using Local Adaptation Plans of Action, or LAPAs, in 10 districts across the country in 2010.

In a joint paper on local adaptation plans, Bimal Raj Regmi, a researcher, and Gyanendra Karki, a government official, said the idea of drawing up LAPAs came out of the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) process.

They noted that Nepal, as one of the last of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to develop its NAPA, was able to incorporate elements omitted from the adaptation plans of other countries.

These include better links to climate change planning processes and mainstreaming national adaptation goals down to the local level, so that the NAPA process moved beyond regional and national consultation to include the input of vulnerable communities in the LAPAs.

The LAPAs are developed by people from various sectors in a village or district who identify local climate risks, vulnerability and needs, and focus on increasing resilience based on the geographical location and assessments made by the community using their knowledge of the local environment.  Read the rest of this entry »

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Agenda for Durban on the table

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 19, 2011

JOHANNESBURG, 18 April 2011 (IRIN) – Poor countries and small islands states have used their combined muscle to

Photo: Charles Akena/IRIN Many poor countries will face extreme water stress by the turn of the century

keep debate at the UN climate change talks in 2011focused on steps to ensure global temperatures do not increase more than two degrees by the turn of the century.

Discussing the agenda for the formal round of UN talks, to be held later in 2011 in Durban, South Africa, consumed four of the six days of the first intersessional meeting from 3 to 8 April in Bangkok, but were well worth the effort, said NGOs and climate change experts.

“Talking about the agenda is highly important and needs time, as it defines not only what you want to discuss but also under which headings/framing,” said Jan Kowalzig, senior climate change policy advisor at Oxfam. For example, if a country believed that targets to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions were “too weak, you need an agenda item under which you can talk about this, otherwise you cannot talk about it at all”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted in its latest assessment that a two-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the turn of the century would have a catastrophic effect: escalating water stress in arid and semi-arid countries, more floods in low-lying coastal areas, coastal erosion in small island states, and the demise of up to 30 percent of animal and plant species.  Read the rest of this entry »

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NEPAL: Political impasse stalls disaster preparedness bill

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 25, 2011

KATHMANDU, 25 February 2011 (IRIN) – Protracted political wrangling in Nepal is preventing a key piece of disaster preparedness legislation from reaching parliament.

Endorsed by the cabinet in October 2009, the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management (NSDRM) has yet to be made into law.

“The passing of this bill is critical. Without this, the country’s disaster preparedness efforts cannot move forward,” Amod Dixit, executive director of the National Society for Earthquake Technology, told IRIN in Kathmandu.

Nepal is described by the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center as one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world; according to the UN, Nepal is ranked the 11th most at-risk country in terms of earthquakes.

Disaster management currently operates under the 1982 National Calamity Act, which assigns response roles in the aftermath of a disaster to the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee chaired by the minister of home affairs.

Under the Committee funds and resources for disaster preparedness and mitigation are limited, and while response capacity for small-scale disasters is strong, disaster risk reduction capacity remains a challenge.  Read the rest of this entry »

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NEPAL: Uncertainty hangs over upcoming elections

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 22, 2011

KATHMANDU, 22 February 2011 (IRIN) – Nepal is ill-prepared for the next general election, the date of which is still

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN Voter registration underway, but electoral challenges remain

uncertain and dependent on a new constitution being ratified, experts say.

The Constituent Assembly (CA) – elected more than two and a half years ago – is due to draft and ratify a new constitution by May 2011 in the hope that elections can be held sometime in 2012, but such deadlines have come and gone before – for example, in May 2010.

“The elections are key to complete the peace process, and the country’s political stability depends on it,” Shashi Upadhaya, a senior official from NGO General Election Observation Committee, told IRIN.

More than 13,000 people lost their lives during the 1996-2006 conflict between Maoist and government forces. Since then, Nepal has had a string of prime ministers – all of whom have failed to deliver political stability, threatening the country’s fragile peace.

“The likelihood of a new constitution being drafted by 28 May 2011 is slimming fast. Any extension of the CA’s tenure, ironically, stands to further the chance of a better-managed election,” said Sagar Prasai, deputy country representative of the Asia Foundation in Nepal.  Read the rest of this entry »

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UN peace mission ends amid political deadlock

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 12, 2011

KATHMANDU, 12 January 2011 (IRIN) – A UN mission established to monitor Nepal’s post-civil war transition will end

Photo: Rudra Khadka/IRIN Where do former Maoist rebels go if not the state army?

on 15 January amid concerns the country’s still “fragile” peace process could unravel.

Nepal’s Maoists led an insurgency against government forces from 1996 to 2006 to end centuries of royal rule they said had led to social and economic inequality.

Established in 2007, and extended several times after its initial one-year mandate expired, the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was a stabilizing influence during an otherwise volatile period in the country, say observers.

“UNMIN’s departure creates a vacuum. The question remains now to see whether the government can fill that vacuum,” said Thej Thapa, a researcher on Nepal for the NGO Human Rights Watch.

Nepal has been functioning with only a caretaker government for more than six months following a no-confidence vote; 16 subsequent attempts to vote in a new prime minister failed; and progress on drafting a new constitution has stalled.

Nepal urgently needs a stable and effective government to push through needed socio-economic reforms and better the lives of millions of vulnerable people.  Read the rest of this entry »

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NEPAL: Political stalemate threatens foreign aid

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 22, 2010

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN A young girl attends a school near Bhairawaha, Rupandehi, Nepal

KATHMANDU, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) – After 16 attempts, Nepal’s feuding parliament still has not been able to elect a new prime minister and only a recent last-minute emergency decree by the president allowed the government to access new funds.

It has been more than four years since a Maoist insurgency was brought to an end by a peace treaty contingent on a new constitution and army – neither of which has been achieved.

Replacing Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who resigned in June following pressure from his opponents but has remained in a caretaker role, has proven impossible.

To elect a successor requires the support of more than half the 601-member parliament but the party with the largest electoral backing, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (or “Maoists”) has been unable to secure a coalition partner to win a majority on any issue.

Since June, the Himalayan nation has not had a fully functioning government.  Read the rest of this entry »

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Africa to take a “quantum leap” in forecasting

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 23, 2010

Johannesburg, 23 November 2010 (IRIN) – Africa has struggled to make accurate and detailed predictions of the

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN African countries will soon have access to more detailed climate change projections

impact of climate change on its countries, but the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) which began earlier in 2010, will see the continent take a “quantum leap” in climate change projection, says Bruce Hewitson, the project’s Africa coordinator.

CORDEX, an initiative by the World Climate Research Programme, will help downscale the global climate model climate change projections being prepared for the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) so as to predict, for instance, what impact higher global temperatures might have on Lagos, Nigeria, until the end of this century.

This detailed information will feed into the IPCC’s fifth assessment report, expected to be published in 2013 or 2014.

“The priority area for CORDEX is Africa, as it is historically under-researched,” said Hewitson, who is also the co-lead author of the chapter on regional contexts in the report by IPCC Working Group II, which will look at impact, adaptation and vulnerability.  Read the rest of this entry »

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AFGHANISTAN: NGOs call on NATO, Afghan government to stop using local militias

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 19, 2010

KABUL, 19 November 2010 (IRIN) – NATO and the Afghan government must stop using local militias against the

Photo: US ARMY The Afghan police - more training needed

Taliban; the poorly trained forces are doing more harm than good, and risk causing a new civil war, say 29 local and international NGOs in a message to NATOleaders ahead of their Lisbon summit on 19-20 November.

In a bid to fill immediate security gaps, the government, backed by NATO, has been implementing a controversial community defence programme in which local men are hired to fight Taliban insurgents in areas where government forces have no, or only a weak, presence.

“Countless community defence initiatives have been attempted in Afghanistan, but they have all too often failed to improve security,” said the NGOs in a report entitled Nowhere to Turn: The Failure to Protect Civilians in Afghanistan.

“Terminate implementation of Afghan Local Police (ALP) and other community defence initiatives. Instead, devote greater resources to the development of a professional and accountable Afghan National Police,” it said, adding that NATO must also help curb rampant corruption and rights violations allegedly committed by Afghan security forces.  Read the rest of this entry »

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GENDER: “Raped in Guinea, then raped again in Senegal”

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 10, 2010

DAKAR, 10 November 2010 (IRIN) – On 28 September 2009 in a Guinea stadium, Djeneba* was raped by a soldier

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN Djeneba holding a copy of the Human Right Watch report ‘Bloody Monday’ about the crackdown in which she and scores of other women were raped

while another beat her head. Calling her a criminal and a whore, the men then shoved a wooden club into her vagina. “I was hanging between life and death.”

In a way, she still is. Now living in the Senegalese capital Dakar, where she and several other women raped that day received medical treatment, she is far from her family and has abandoned her studies, “which were my life, my future… That is how I was going to contribute to my parents.” She said she would have finished her Master’s in economics this year.

“I’m among ‘the rape victims’. But I’m still a militant of a political party and someone who wants to fight for Guinea.” People demonstrated on 28 September in the capital Conakry to call for an end to military rule in Guinea – to say No to the presidential candidacy of coup leader Moussa Dadis Camara.

Human Rights Watch reckons 150 to 200 people were killed when security forces attacked the pro-democracy rally at the stadium in Conakry. Dozens of women, of all ages, were raped.

“Young women were raped along with their mothers – it’s abominable,” said Ibrahima Baldé of the Centre Mère et Enfants, a clinic in the city where rape victims continue to turn for medical and psychosocial care.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysis: Are humanitarians learning the lessons from Haiti?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 29, 2010

LONDON, 28 October 2010 (IRIN) – Listen to locals, tap into existing capacity, coordinate needs assessments, find

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN Aid agencies still tend to send tents to earthquake survivors, rather than semi-permanent housing, despite repeat lessons learned (file photo)

strong leaders and provide transitional shelter – not just tents. These are some of the lessons to have emerged from the 2007 tsunami evaluation, numerous earthquake responses and the latest Haiti real-time evaluation, begging the question: when will the humanitarian community start applying these lessons learned.

“There is still a tendency not only to reinvent the wheel, but also to turn it the wrong way,” notes the Haiti Real Time Evaluation (RTE), written in August 2010 but just published in October.

What worked

Some things did go right in Haiti, say both the RTE and Sir John Holmes, former under-secretary general for humanitarian response at the UN, and currently director of the Ditchley Foundation.

At a Haiti applying lessons-learned forum hosted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on 26 October, Holmes Read the rest of this entry »

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“Food intelligence” could cut price swings

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 29, 2010

IRIN

Johannesburg, 29 September 2010 (IRIN) – Accurate and timely information on the food stocks held by major grain

Photo: Kevin Lallier/Flickr Better information could keep prices more stable

exporters and importers, or “food intelligence”, could help prevent sudden and abnormal price hikes that threaten food security.

This was one of the proposals put forward at a day-long meeting of the Inter-Governmental Groups (IGGs) on Grains and on Rice at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held in Rome on 24 September.

Maximo Torero, head of the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a US-based policy think-tank, said similar measures were suggested after the 2007/08 food price crisis had led to price volatility, but not much had been done.

Since July 2010, droughts and fires in Russia, a major wheat producer, have caused global prices to soar by between 60 and 80 percent, while maize has spiked by about 40 percent. The IGGs meeting dealt with these “unexpected” price hikes at length and pronounced that they were “a major threat to food security”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Women hold key to MDGs but …

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 17, 2010

NAIROBI, 17 September 2010 (IRIN) – Just days before the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) summit, Andrew

Empowerment of women is key to attaining the MDGs

Mitchell, the UK’s International Development Secretary, announced a change in direction, putting women and children at the centre of its aid policy. This shift will double the number of female and newborn lives saved by 2015, Mitchell will tell the assembled heads of state in New York on 20-22 September.

Progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical to progress on the MDGs overall, say specialists, and the UK leadership will be calling for collective international action on this issue at the summit.

According to a report by Martin Greeley at the Institute of Development Studies, “… There is increased recognition of the linkages between gender equality and achievement of all the MDGs. For example on MDG4, on child mortality, given the role of women as primary care givers to children; MDG6 on HIV and AIDS, on account of the interaction of gender inequality and the spread of the virus; and MDG7 on water, sanitation and the environment, given among things, women’s disproportionate role in water provisioning.” Read the rest of this entry »

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