Multi-stakeholders Engagement on Land Governance is Promoted in Nepal
People centered land governance (PCLG) has been being implemented by Nepal CSOs in couple years where the participation of broader stakeholders is highly demanding.
In June, 2018, Government line agencies, CSOs, IOs and IGOs began to come together to connect the dots that are still disconnected in the area of land governance and management in Nepal and thereby hampering the overall land policy environment. Two important policy dialogue events were organized in Kathmandu: first, Multi-stakeholder discussion on land policy formation organized by Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives (MOALMC) and the second, National and International Experience Sharing Related to Land Reform jointly organized by Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC) and The Himalayan Initiative for Policy Studies (HIPS).
As a consultative process, MOALMC organized one-day interaction workshop on 15th June 2018 to collect views of policy experts, parliamentarian, and CSOs on the policy provisions provisioned in the upcoming Land Policy.
On behalf of the MOALMC, Mr. Gopal Giri, Under-Secretary briefly presented the draft Land Policy prepared by the Ministry in this high-level multi-stakeholder dialogue. Mr. Giri Said "we have spent years preparing this draft, this consultation workshop is expected to have concrete suggestions as a representative voices of people that are to be incorporated in the final policy document."
Following the presentation, former vice-chairperson of National Planning Commission (NPC), forwarded his remarks and indicated to a loose connection of the proposed policy and ongoing major programs that are pertinent to land administration, management and governance in Nepal. Former Chair person of High-level Land Reform Commission 1995-1996, Mr. Keshab Badal appreciating the good policy formulating culture emphasized on sufficient evidences for policy decisions. He further stressed on the continuation of this sort of multi-stakeholder dialogue initiatives for open interaction to explore possible policy solutions.
Similarly, Former Agriculture Minister and Chairperson of High-level Scientific Land Reform Commission, 2010, suggested all the relevant stakeholders working to achieve People Centered Land Governance in Nepal not to focus very much on many issues. This is true that 'Pretty much anything is ambiguous and surreal'. That's why everything that is to do with sustainable landscape governance is completely abstract. Therefore, prioritized actions with crystal-clear objectives and standard indicators for land sector has become urgent, guided by the exact exercise and system, establishing high performing and cohesive common platform.
Mr. Chakrapani Khanal of the MOALMC, appreciated the 'land reform' initiative in 1964 which according to him was a paradigm-shift in the contemporary policy context of Nepal. Land Act enacted in 1964 witnessed sixth amendments, but still the revolutionary provisions like land ceiling and proper utilization of the land remain unfulfilled. Underlying causes of the failure of land reform initiative according to the Minister are 'lack of strong political will, lack of political consensus and unsupportive bureaucracy'. Now the entire context is changed: the government has strong majority and people's priorities and patterns of land use are also changed. In this context, land has become complex issue which is inextricably intertwined with many other issues. So, we need to be able to specify and identify our current needs and future priorities related to land administration, management and governance.
The Minister himself forwarded 11 different issues to help ease the complexity related to Land and Natural resources. Among them, question of re-formation of Land Act, ending the problem of Tenant Farmers, addressing the deeply rooted guthi problem and diverse land social tenures are on the top priority. Other land related problems in his list include, fit-for purpose land administration, sustainable landscape governance, classification of land resource and provision of different types of land ownership certificate in accordance to the classification of land.
After the remarks from the experts and minister, participating representatives from diverse stakeholders formed 5 different thematic groups to discuss the issue under consideration from the Land Policy Draft and provide their inputs in written. All five groups made their individual presentation as the outcome of their group discussion. Presenters emphasized on the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples, women and marginalized communities on land and natural resource rights issues.
While delivering the presentation on the Experiences of different countries related to land reform, Jagat Basnet of CSRC briefly introduced different models practiced and implemented in various countries like, China, India, Singapur, Japan, South Africa. The main objective of the program was to inform the high level political leaders, the Minister of MOALMC, and the relevant policy makers if any of the models that turned to be very successful would work in the Nepalese context.
Since all the participants were directly or indirectly related to the issues of land, they seem to be united by a common purpose: ensuring land and housing rights for those who lack. But from their remarks, it was very clear that they face real challenges whenever they try to implement people centered agendas. Therefore, the systemic change in all aspects of thinking and acting land reform both at policy and program level has become crucial need. This will be only possible through a coordinated and active engagement of multi-stakeholders working on and from land in Nepal.
Original story written by Dharm Raj Joshi (Nepal NES Facilitator)
Pictures by Dharm Raj Joshi