Land Reform in Nepal

The Findings of a Scoping Study on Land Reform for DFID Nepal The Findings of a Scoping Study on Land Reform for DFID Nepal

What happened to all the redistributive land reforms around the world in the 20th century? The first chapter of this book tries its best to answer this positively but concludes that the old way of reforming land relations is not working. However this book is really about Nepal. It turns out that Nepal has been trying to reform skewed land ownership since the 1950s. Its failure to do so has a lot to do with the decade-long civil war recently ended. Since then the new Republic’s Government has been trying to decide on how to restart redistribution. Alden Wily et al show that that a focus on who owns the farm is not going to be enough to make a difference to land-based inequities. Restituting the forests and pastures nationalised in the 1970s to community ownership is a logical step, particularly as Nepal has amply shown over the last three decades that forests controlled and used by communities are much better conserved than those owned by Government and have been the main contributor to the regreening of the Himalayas. Most of all, the authors argue for a new approach to land reform, one which begins in the village with each community determining and managing its own ceilings and redistribution plan, focusing on the abundant idle lands owned by absentee landlords and formalising the occupancy of thousands of low-caste and indigenous households on so-called public lands. They argue that after half a century of failed top-down initiatives this is now the only way forward.

Devendra Chapagain and Shiva Sharma