Friday, June 27, 2008

Kamal Nepali - A Child who Saved Annother Child from Deep Crevices of Seti River in Pokhara

On Tuesday, June 24 afternoon a child of 2.5 years age fell into the crevices of Seti River in Pokhara, valley famous for its Annapurna Range of Himalayas and the Lakes.

Despite all efforts by different specialized rescue teams, including Nepal Army and Police squads, the child could not be brought out from the death trap. The crevice was simply too narrow and it was not possible for big guys to adventure any further from 20 ft. The child was believed to have rested at 65 feet from the surface outside. So, Kamal Nepali, 12 years old school boy, who liked gymnastics in his school, agreed to go down to take the child, up on his brother's request. Kamal's brother told him - that there is a child like our own sister, who needs help.

After the rescue team's briefing on him and preparations with a bag, walki-talkie and torch, the boy descended, negotiated the narrow hole, reached the child, lifted her, put her in the bag, signalled the team he was ready and was pulled up. The boy again negotiateed the narrow part of the hole with utmost care and arrived on the surface with the living child. After 22 hours, on June 25, 2008, the child was taken to a hospital in Pokhara and is recovering well.

Then there were emotional breakdowns. For the parents of the child, who came from India as a member of misisonery team to preach christianity to Nepalis, told that Kamal is now his son.

This was indeed an act that rekindles kindness and compassions in many hearts. Kamal Nepali's father repairs shoes for their survival.

here is an article by Prem Nepali of Kantipur about Kamal Nepali and his act. Also an article by Kulchandra Neupane introduces Kamal Nepali. Hope you will enjoy if you have not read it in the Kantipur Daily.

The link to the article is here. The article is copy-pasted below:

Accolades, money showered on Kamal


KASKI, June 27 - Kamal Nepali, 12, who rescued two-and-half year old Aradhana Pradhan from a 60-feet deep gorge in Pokhara on Wednesday at risk to his own life has been given a number of rewards and words of appreciations.
On Thursday, Nepali could not even attend all the functions organized to felicitate him for his bravery. His hectic schedule was proof that this young boy from a poor family had turned into a public hero.

Commending his valor, various organizations and individuals in Pokhara city were making preparations to felicitate him, but they could not get hold of him as he had already bought an air-ticket for Kathmandu. Since early morning, Nepali remained busy. Media jostled for an interview.

Amidst this hectic activity, leaders of the Democratic National Youth Union, Gandaki chapter were complaining that they only got five minutes to felicitate him. "We did not get time to even hand over the money collected in different places," said Rajiv Pahari, president of the union, adding that the government should honor him for his valor.

Ashbir Nepali of Annapurna Mijar Society was complaining that he could not hand over to him a shawl and a token of appreciation. Many have been showing eagerness to sponsor his education and ensure him a successful future. His father Nil Bahadur, who makes shoes for a living, was more than happy to acknowledge all the appreciation together with his son.

"I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that he would win such rewards and appreciation at such a tender age," he quipped.

Money pours in
Meanwhile, many organizations have shown interest in rewarding Kamal. Commending his courage in rescuing a child from a 'death trap', Everest Insurance Company Ltd on Thursday announced a cash award of Rs 101,001, along with a token of appreciation.

Industrialist and president of the insurance company, Rajendra Khetan, in a statement also pledged to give Rs 21,001 to the rescued child for her patience.

Likewise, Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN), an NGO involved with the rights of child workers, promised to award Nepali a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and commend his bravery. CWIN, in a statement, also wished speedy recovery to the rescued child. She is undergoing treatment at Pokhara-based Manipal Hospital.

Who is Kamal?


Born in an impoverished family, Kamal Nepali is the youngest son of Nil Bahadur Nepali. Previously residents of Ram Bazaar, Kamal's family now lives in Tutang since the their house at Ram Bazaar was sold to clear a debt.

Kamal's family and friend know him as a restless and brave boy who scoots off into the neighborhood sometimes performs acrobatic stunts, wowing his friends and elders alike. His friends know him better as Michael. Kamal's father, Nil Bahadur, who knew about his son's heroic deed only after the whole thing was over, is proud of his son's extraordinary feat.

"Kamal is very fond of children. This might be the reason why he risked his life to save the little girl in the first place," said Nil Bahadur. Sumek Adhikari of Nepal Canoeing Association says, "Kamal projected incredible valor when I first saw him volunteering for this dangerous task." "A brave son like Kamal is what a country like ours needs."

Extraordinary tale of nation's little hero

Until Wednesday, little did this 12-year old lad know he would rescue a toddler stuck some 60 feet below a treacherous gorge, just bigger than a rabbit hole, and be hailed as a hero nationwide.

Just like any other day, Kamal was home watching television, unaware that a baby girl Aradhana Pradhan was fighting for her dear life inside the gorge for almost two days. All this while the locals and rescue personnel from Nepal Canoeing Association from Kathmandu, along with Nepal Army soldiers were making rescue bids to save the child without success.

Kamal knew about the situation only after his elder brother Salum, who was actively engaged in the rescue bid since day one, brought him to the incident site to try Kamal's petite physique into the narrow gorge to rescue the little girl.

Salum himself had staked his life in the gorge to rescue baby Aradhana but he could not make it below 25 feet due to the narrow hole beneath him. After hearing disappointed rescue personnel say that only a small boy could enter the slender hole, Salum had brought his brother Kamal to undertake the Herculean task.

At first, locals raised their eyebrows at Salum for trying to risk his own brother's life by lowering him down the narrow gorge, where another minor was already trapped. But after Salum decided to go for it and Kamal too accepted the risk audaciously, locals accepted this bold step.

Rescue personnel then helped Kamal to put on the safety harness and took him down till the spot from where the gorge got narrow. From there on all hope lay on Kamal. Two rescue personnel waited for Kamal outside the narrow passage of the gorge, while he lowered himself down following instructions from rescue personnel through walkie-talkie.

The crowd outside were on tenterhooks all this while until Kamal emerged from the gorge with Aradhana tucked inside a bag. Kamal emerged as the savior of Aradhana, he emerged as a hero. He won the hearts of the crowd.

But most of all Kamal won the hearts of Aradhana's parents, John and Easter, by saving their only daughter from the death trap. Overjoyed by their daughter's rescue at the hands of this little boy, they decided to regard Kamal as their son.

The doctors involved in the treatment of little Aradhana say the girl is doing fine and she shall be discharged soon.

Posted on: 2008-06-26 20:50:48 (Server Time)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Information on Decentralization Project in Nepal --

The following paragraphs have some more info on the context of Decentralization Support Programme in Nepal, taken from this link.

Region: Asia
Thematic Focus: Constitutional Reform, Popular Participation
Country: Nepal


UNDP has been supporting the process of decentralization in Nepal since 1982, initially supporting the formulation of the Decentralization Act. In 1989, UNDP project entitled "Strengthening Decentralization Planning" assisted the government in preparing the currently existing local government laws and national policies related to decentralization, rural development, and NGOs, including the District Development Act, Village Development Act, and the Municipal Act. The "Supporting Decentralization in Nepal" project, funded by UNDP and executed by the government through its national planning commission secretariat, was approved in January 1993 and is now completed.

The "Supporting Decentralization in Nepal" project was formulated to address three issues fundamental in preventing the majority of rural inhabitants from benefiting from development activities:

Lack of information to guide local decision-making;
Continued control of development resources by central bureaucracies; and
Continued lack of accountability to the people.

Key Factors

To address the above three issues, the project helped to enhance the capacity of "National Planning Commission" to formulate, promote, and monitor the implementation of liberalizing policies in support of rural development and, secondly, to enhance the capabilities of local elected bodies in six districts to effectively plan and manage local development activities through cooperation with government line agencies, NGOs and user's group (through a participatory development approach). As a result and a direct follow-up to this initiative, the project " Participatory District Development Project - PDDP" was approved in 1995 - covering the original 6 districts as well as 14 new districts.

Primary emphasis in PDDP is given to promoting decentralized, participatory development, by mobilizing civic institutions (including the private sector, women's organizations, NGOs and community-based organizations), local authorities with support from the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Local Development.

A programme entitled: "The Local Governance" has also been designed to supplement the efforts of PDDP by branching out its activities to additional 20 districts. The programme is developed to:

Develop an information system for District Development Committees (DDCs);
Assist DDC to practice and institutionalize a participatory approach to planning for district development;
Practice and institutionalize a participatory approach to monitoring the progress of development initiatives and measuring the impact made on local development based on information derived from beneficiaries themselves;
Incorporate an accounting system in the DDC to monitor the use of development; and
Use alternative, innovative ideas to improve implementation management tools.
Although the Local Governance initiative will use the same programme ideas as the PDDP, to avoid over-burdening the PDDP's management, they will form a joint umbrella programme.

Main Lessons

The main lessons and benefits from the Nepalese experience can be summarized as:

UNDP's catalytic role in support of decentralization not only enhanced participation and empowerment through capacity building and by being responsive to local needs, but it also contributed to UNDP's own SHD-oriented project pipeline development;
Accountability is possible through strengthening various tiers of power - as exemplified by the District's growing awareness of both their rights and their responsibilities;
Voice and choice were enhanced - local communities were empowered to direct their own development agendas with assistance of UNDP;
Decentralization did not take place in vacuum - democracy, economic liberalization of the economy and privatization were all part of it;
Decentralization has encouraged foreign donors to invest through local governments, and so has had a ripple effect on other programmes;
The concept of ownership is crucial - it is an effective method of mobilizing development resources in rural areas - contrasting strongly with many "policy dialogue" type projects funded by donor agencies which can be confrontational and impose a set of beliefs on resistant officials;
Formation of policies is not enough - decentralization needs a strong political commitment with a legal basis; and
Decentralization is an incremental long-term process; there is no quick fix solution to institutional building.

For full reporting on UNDP's support of the decentralization process in Nepal see:

Participatory District Development, Village Development Through Social Mobilization - The Beginning…., NPC/MLD/UNDP NEP/95/008

UNDP's Support to Democratic Decentralization in Nepal, Paul Lundberg, UNDP Islamabad, March 1997 (available electronically on UNDP's MDGD Web -site)

Nepal - Supporting Decentralization (NEP/92/027) Report of the Evaluation Mission, Richard Huntington and Pradip P. Upadyay, November 1995

Readings in Decentralization: Food for Thought - A Definition of Governance - Series Note: 5

The following email note is publicly available. Here is a good discussion on the definition of governance. The information is taken from this link.

Date::::: Fri, 19 Sep 1997 21:20:42 PKT
Subject :: Re: Food for Thought - A Definition of Governance

Dear Magnet,

Some of our colleagues have argued, vociferously in one case, that
defining governance is an academic exercise that should not concern
us practitioners. I disagree with that view. I believe that it is
essential that we understand what we are talking about and agree
among ourselves about the nature of our subject.

To start my comment, I would like to submit an alternate definition
of governance. This definition was created by Dr. Elinor Ostrom, a
professor of political science and a lifelong student of common
property resource management issues. She defines governance quite
simply as the "regularized ways of ordering human societies at all
levels of organization from family units to entire societies".

Why did I think it necessary to submit an alternate definition? We
need to define governance as a function of society, not of
government, and without referring to intended results.
Unfortunately, the first sentence of UNDP's definition of governance
immediately creates an obstacle for those who see the influence of
civil society to be paramount. Governance should not be equated
with the processes of government. The "management of a country's
affairs" is an outcome of governance, not its definition. One of the
most difficult tasks I face when attempting to introduce the concept
of governance to officials and politicians is to get them to
recognize that, in a free society, it is the civil society, not the
government, that determines the principles under which institutions
are formed and function.

The second sentence in UNDP's definition helps to broaden our
view of governance, but I fear it comes too late because the
readers are already thinking about citizens in relation to their
governments. However, this sentence rightly addresses the fact that
civil society does not spend much of its time thinking about
political society. Most of the time people think about their
relations with other people. They think of government only when it
gets in the way or when it fails to protect their rights. (More
recently, people also think of government when they want something
they don't want to pay for, but that is a subject for a later
debate.) I would argue that it is the quality of individual
relationships that determines the quality of governance, not the
other way around. The decision making processes involved in the
management of a nation's development resource allocations will depend
ultimately upon the dominant approach of its civil society to the
management of family and community relations.

In support of this relational view of governance, I would like
to quote Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote in his classic review of
early American governance in the 1830's: "If men are to remain
civilized, or to become so, the art of association together must grow
and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is
increased". I believe the quality of association to be found
in a society is a key determinant that can be used to distinguish
good from bad governance. A valuable question to ask is: Do the
formal and informal rule structures extant in a society, and the
manner in which those rules are enforced, support or constrain the
ability of people to work together for common purposes.

Thus, the "ordering of human societies" in Dr. Ostrom's definition
is not a process that is done to societies, but by them in a
self-organized manner over time. The process of creating
lasting systems of governance is dominated by the interaction of
individual decisions. Fortunately, or unfortunately, when these
individual decisions are aggregated through social institutions the
emergent structures are rarely predictable.

Those of you who got this far may now legitimately ask what kinds of
governance support initiatives are possible to consider if the
evolution of governance systems is essentially a chaotic,
uncontrollable process. Obviously, we need to start by
deconstructing the definition into its component parts and
determining those that are appropriate for external interventions.
The results will differ greatly among societies. The late Nobel
economist, Fredrick Hayak, often referred to the "fatal conceit"
of those who believed that they could engineer societies. To avoid
this conceit, I suggest that we focus the bulk of our attention on
promoting those activities that enhance abilities at all levels of
society to work out their problems for themselves. If you are
looking for examples, MDGD's LIFE is arguably one of the best.

To conclude my assessment of UNDP's definition, I believe the
second paragraph is inappropriatly worded. A good definition of a
term should not be tied to the normative values of its definers.
This definition of "good governance" is inappropriate not because it
is eurocentric, but because it is UN-centric. It is too filled with
jargon currently in fashion in development circles to have much
general or lasting value.

As an alternative I submit the following: "Good governance occurs
when societal norms and practices empower and encourage people to
take increasingly greater control over their own development in
a manner that does not impinge upon the accepted rights of others."

Comments and criticism are welcome.

Paul Lundberg
UNDP Pakistan

Readings in Decentralization - insights from Cambodia - Series Note:4

The following number of articles have some insights in Decentralization. The link is here.

Commune Councils

By Molly Ball
The Cambodia Daily

The Feb 3 commune council elections were widely hailed as a major step toward grassroots democracy in Cambodia. But that goal won't happen overnight.

"If people really think they're going to get 100 percent of local governments functioning right away that's never happened anywhere," said Scott Leiper, a UN adviser to the government on decentralization.

The massive amount of work that must be done to get 1,621 commune councils up and running will be complicated by the fact that many details of how the councils will proceed are still unclear.
"On election day, Cambodians went to vote for a system of government that has yet to be fully defined," said Eric Kessler of the National Democratic Institute.

Critics say this uncertainty is ripe for exploitation by the central government. Participants in the process say the government is successfully scrambling to make the next steps clear.

The National Assembly passed the Commune Administration Law almost a year ago, laying out the councils' basic format. But the law is full of phrases like "The Minister of Interior shall issue an instruction concerning the procedures..." or "...shall be determined by Sub-decree."

"[The commune election] is a big step for democracy, but at the same time the warning is clear," said former CPP senator Chhang Song. "If you do not describe the exact, precise, clear, practical roles for each council and each member of council, you will have a lot of infringement by the [national] government."

An inter-ministerial body called the National Committee for Supporting the Communes has met at least once a month since mid-2001 and formulated some, but not all, of the 12 additional laws, subdecrees or ministerial instructions needed to determine what the new councils' powers, duties and structure will be.

Some observers believe the national government and especially the ruling CPP deliberately put off creating these rules until after the election. The US-based International Republican Institute said in its evaluation of the Feb 3 elections, Ã’Thus far, the Cambodian government has failed to produce implementing regulations for the operation of commune councils.

"Until proven otherwise, this failure will be considered an act of bad faith by Cambodia's ruling party. The power to write these rules must not be allowed to be an insurance policy on maintaining local power for the ruling party."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy expressed similar concerns. "Much of the implementation remains unclear," he said. "The CPP will devise ways to preserve as much power as they can. They will write the laws to suit them."

Others who don't share these conspiracy theories admit that the still-missing aspects of the law will cause problems.

Most of the councils' first year will consist of intensive training in orientation, finance and planning. But council members can't be taught rules that don't yet exist, Leiper said.

"I think all the major stuff is going to be in place in time, but it does put pressure on the training process," he said. "For things to move forward, a lot of things have to be passed or you have to come up with interim arrangements."

Two major areas will take some time to formulate. The first is the procedures for levying local taxes, which are supposed to be the councils" main source of revenue.

The commune administration law gives the councils the power to impose taxes, but it says "the law shall determine the category, degree and manner for collecting" them. Until such law is passed, the councils effectively can't tax their citizens.

"This will be complicated, since it is connected with the interests of the local people," said Sak Setha, head of the Department of General Administration in the Ministry of Interior and the government's point man on decentralization. "It will need a lot of study and discussion. We will try to draft these rules this year."

But Leiper estimated it would take two years before communes start collecting taxes.
Until then, the councils will have to subsist on their small allocations from the national government. There are 20 billion riel (about $5 million) budgeted to the national Commune Fund, plus $1.5 million from donors; procedures for disbursement should be set up by Khmer New Year in April, Sak Setha said.

But he admitted that $6.5 million isn't much. "We have to divide a very small GDP into three pockets the national government, provincial government and local government," he said.

If the $5 million were divided evenly between the communes, each would get just more than $4,000. In fact, it will be distributed based on an existing formula that takes into account the communes' population and level of need.

Without funds, the councils will likely be hard pressed to conduct even their routine duties such as registering births and marriages not to mention creating and implementing a Commune Development Plan, as the law demands.

The second major provision that will take time to define is the election of village chiefs. According to the law, "to increase the effectiveness of commune administration," the new councils are to arrange for each village in their jurisdiction to elect a chief in accordance with a ministerial instruction.

This instruction will be tricky to craft, Sak Setha said. "This is a very sensitive point. In our Constitution, the village is not a tier of administration, just a unit of community it is informal. But in reality a lot of projects [must] cooperate with the village people," he said.

"We need to have seminars and discussions relating to the organization of the villages. This year we will set up the seminars, after Khmer New Year, to decide things including how village chiefs will be elected. We will need to review all our systems of rural development to integrate them to support national policy for decentralization and local governance."

As Sak Setha himself pointed out, cooperation on the village level will be essential to the communes' development but it may be more than a year before this cooperation can be organized.

Another concern to many observers is the chain of command. As it stands, the commune councils are under the supervision of the national government their legal relationship is with the nation's only other elected body, the National Assembly.

"These multi-party commune councils still report to and are dependent on the central government, which is still single-party-dominated," Kessler said. "That's troubling."

The authority for administering the communes rests with the Ministry of Interior, but the ministry has delegated or will delegate most responsibilities to provincial or district officials as a matter of practicality, Sak Setha said.

This means another entire level of government will have to be trained and equipped to carry out local administration, Leiper pointed out.

To some, it also raises the issue of true autonomy. "I wonder how much [the councils] will really be able to do when they are still below" appointed district and province chiefs, said Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura.

"At the district and province level, it must be clear that their role is to support the commune councils, not control the commune councils," said Puch Sothon, acting director of the Commune Council Support Project, a collaborative effort of nine NGOs.

"The commune councils work only under the legislation. If they know this, if they know their duties, responsibilities and power clearly, if they know all the legislationÑthey can protect themselves as autonomous."

According to the law, the Ministry of Interior is to appoint a clerk to each council. Some 1,884 clerks one for each commune plus a reserve corps were recruited in their local areas and have been trained, Sak Setha said.

The clerks are just assistants to the council, Sak Setha said. They keep track of documents, handle paperwork and perform simple income-and-expenditure accounting.

But some worry that since the clerks are agents of the ministry, they will at best make council members too afraid to speak their minds, and at worst serve as informants, keeping tabs on the councils for the central government.

Compounding these fears is the fact that the ministry, according to the law, has the power to dismiss any council whose actions it deems "contrary to the Constitution and the Government policy."

"The policy of replacing the whole council if they deviate from the government line is very dangerous," Chhang Song said. "It makes the clerks look like spies and the Minister of Interior like the super-spy."

Sak Setha said that possibility is prohibited in the ministerial instruction that lays out the clerks' duties. "The clerks are not part of the monitoring, control and intervention procedures," he said. He pointed out that councils are allowed to request a new clerk if they don't like the one they are given.

The law also specifies that "every commune councilor has freedom to express their opinions in the meetings of commune council. No commune councilors shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the meetings of commune council."

There are many other variables that will make or break the new commune councils. Will council members be able to put aside their party affiliations and work together? Will their constituents take an interest in the councils" doings, participate in the process and hold the councils accountable at the polls?

It's not that decentralization has been mismanaged; it's just that much remains to be seen, observers say. Everyone, it seems, wants to believe that the kinks will be ironed out, the uncertainties resolved.
"We must be optimistic with this process. We must go together," Puch Sothon said. "We can criticize, but only in a constructive way. We hope it will work."

Clearly, the councils have a long way to go from clearing up the legal framework for their operation to solving the many practical hurdles. But despite the current scramble to take care of the business left still unfinished on Election Day, Leiper said the Feb 3 elections were not premature. "It was important to set a deadline [with] the elections," he said. "That's what provided the pressure for all that has been done."

He pointed out that many other countries have embarked on decentralization initiatives an increasingly popular reform in international development schemes with far less preparation. In both Pakistan and the Philippines, for example, newly elected local governments waited two years for their first funding from the central government.

"I think it's quite possible that in five years we could look back and say Cambodia moved faster than any country in Asia in terms of decentralization," Leiper said.


Patience, Support Needed for Decentralization to Succeed, Experts Say

The new councils must take power within 14 days of when official election results are announced. If all the results are released by Feb 21 as planned, this deadline is March 7.

The new chiefs must call the first council meeting within a month of taking power probably by April 7.

The councils must meet monthly in public. More than half the members must attend a meeting for it to be valid. A majority of the entire council must vote to approve important measures.

Councils may also meet secretly if they follow Ministry of Interior regulations.

Their first order of business should be to draft their own rules of operation. A ministerial instruction includes guidelines and a model for creating these internal rules.

The councils are to arrange for each village to have an elected chief. The Ministry of Interior has not yet issued the procedures for electing these chiefs, or their duties.

The councils will be funded by local tax collection and money from the national government. The National Commune Fund contains $5 million that may be disbursed as soon as Khmer New Year. Procedures for local taxation may take a year to formulate.

Councils' duties include security, public services, economic and social development, and protecting the environment and natural and cultural resources. They also perform administrative tasks and carry out initiatives originating at the national, provincial and district level.

Councils have no authority over forestry, posts and telecommunications, national defense and security, or monetary, foreign or fiscal policy.

By law, the Ministry of Interior can fire a council that does not follow "Government policy," but individual council members cannot be punished for expressing their opinions in meetings.

Readings in Decentralization - Interview with Paul Lundberg on Decentralization: Series Note: 3

Here is an interesting interview with Paul Lundberg on Decentralization published in the Cambodia Daily. The link to the article is here.

People in Power

Translating the Commune Council's New Powers from Paper

By Molly Ball
The Cambodia Daily

Ang Leng, 42, shows off the ink-blackened finger that proves he voted in the Feb 3 commune elections at Toul Tumpong Pagoda in Phnom Penh. While many Cambodians voted enthusiastically for the promises of their local candidates, it is still not clear what the newly elected councils will actually be empowered to do.
Decentralization has become a fashionable political reform around the world, and Cambodia's efforts to move power and authority to the local level make it the next country to join the movement. But in some ways, Cambodia's program is unique.

Paul Lundberg, an expert on local government who has worked in Asia for 20 years, said he has never before seen a governmental structure like Cambodia's, where the national and local governments are elected but everything in between is appointed.
This is inconvenient and could cause problems of authority, said Lundberg, currently lending his expertise to the UN Development Program in Phnom Penh. "If you're going to have local self-government, the provinces and districts have to [also] have elected representation," he said.
Cambodia's system of electing councils based on proportions of party lists is also unique, he said. Most countries, whether their local elections are party-based or not, have local assemblies composed of representatives of smaller parts of the community, such as villages or wards.

Other observers have also criticized Cambodia's new councils for failing to guarantee that the entire commune is represented, fearing one or two powerful or populous villages could dominate a council and look after only their own interests.

But Lundberg said he is impressed with what he's seeing in Cambodia. "What I like about what's going on here, as opposed to all the other places I've been and this may be because the bureaucracy is in sync with the political leaders is that everybody is in line with decentralization," he said.
"Typically, bureaucracies, if they can't stop the process, will sit back and let it fumble. I have not seen any bureaucracy so heavily supportive of decentralization."

Decentralization has swept like a wave over the developing world during the last decade. Some experts deride it as an idea international agencies and donors have latched onto as inherently positive, even though it may not fit everywhere.

Lundberg disagrees. It is always good to move government closer to the population it serves, he said. In addition, "Decentralization fits with a market orientation. In theory, it makes more choices available to people."

Lundberg sees this as its greatest strength. "If you have a state that says, "Thou shalt carry out agricultural programs in this way," there's very limited opportunity to compare that to what might have happened, whereas when decisions are made in different ways in different places, you have a lot more chance of getting it right. And the places that didn't get it right can learn from their neighbors."
Cambodia, too, can learn from its Asian neighbors, Lundberg said.

Nepal underwent a democratic revolution in 1990, going from absolute monarchy to open, multi-party democracy. Two years later, the country held party-based elections for 1,200 village committees.

There was no literacy requirement to run for office. The committees had no training, no systems for administration, and no money from either the central government or their local populations.
But "there was a messy, evolutionary process. People gradually learned to be elected leaders and electors." In 1999, the second round of elections was accompanied by new national laws giving the committees more guidance and resources.

The lesson here, Lundberg said, is don't micro-manage. "There's a strong sense here that Cambodia has to move very fast, and that in order to move very fast they need tightly prescribed systems." But in the first few years, the councils should be allowed to feel their way forward rather than being told exactly what to do.

In the Philippines, which held its first local elections in 1989, 40 percent of the government's internal revenues are allocated directly to local governments. This gives them real authority and autonomy, and as a result, more qualified people are being attracted to local office: "A lot of engineers and doctors and lawyers are running for mayor now."

Here, the key was to let go the purse-strings and send the money where it's needed. Lundberg noted that only 14 percent of Cambodia's national budget is currently spent outside Phnom Penh.

Indonesia does not have elected local governments, and most decisions are made in Jakarta. But funds are allocated to local governments by sector health care, agriculture, road-building, education"so at least it insures that earmarked funds make it out of Jakarta."

China held its first democratic elections for village councils in the early 1990s. "The councils immediately ran smack against the party cadre at the county level, who were not about to let them make decisions that went against the Communist party's dictates." In Thailand, too, a heavy-handed Ministry of Interior maintains tight control over local governments.

In Cambodia, Lundberg said he has met district and provincial governors who "didn't act like they were going to let the communes do anything." It will important to give the communes breathing room.

But only to a point: When Indonesia made its attempt at decentralization, "a number of decisions made in the provinces contravened national laws, and the central government just wasn't strong enough to say no." The new provincial governors took over things they had no legal right to meddle in: dealing with forestry concessions, imposing tariffs for crossing provincial borders.

A balance must be struck between a central government that is too strong and one that is not strong enough, Lundberg said.

And everyone involved must be patient, he said. "In the Philippines, it's interesting to look at how long it took an educated, mobile civil society to have its local government actually doing anything," Lundberg said. "In Nepal, it's interesting to see how long people kept working with local governments that didn't do much for them.

"People here have this idea that if the communes don't do much in their first year, everyone will completely lose faith in the whole idea. I don't think so."

Decentralized Governance and a Human Rights-based Approach to Development - Series Note: 2

This is the second article on decentralization by Paul Lundberg.
This is taken from and the article link is here.

Decentralized Governance and a Human Rights-based Approach to Development (10)
16.09.07 - 07:33:57

By Paul Lundberg
Independent Consultant
The issue of human rights has not figured prominently in the ongoing discussion on decentralization. In part, this is because human rights advocates have focused their attention on getting central governments to accept the basic HR principles.
Human rights advocates have only recently begun to consider the effects of decentralizing decision-making power to lower levels of government. As they begin to focus on this growing political phenomenon, they are increasingly recognizing that such process creates new opportunities to promote HR as well as threats to protection. Indeed, issues of justice, accountability, poverty reduction, employment/livelihood, environment, women and children are fundamental concerns of local development.
Experience in Tanahun District
The former chairman of Tanahun District, Ram Chandra Pokhrel, one of the founders of the Nepal Association of District Development Committees and an early partner with UNDP, remarked that the impact of the move to decentralized decision making was tremendous. He argued that, "During the Panchayat time, we were not free. There was no responsible government and no spontaneous development. If there was development in a village, it was directed from the center."
Pokhrel's own district of Tanahun has a population of 300,000 scattered in 46 villages and was one of the six original districts that received the UNDP funded DSP. According to Pokhrel, the development process definitely followed a "bottom up" approach. First groups of villagers assembled to discuss their common need and presented their ideas to the Village Development Chairman. In Tanahun, the villagers identified six priority sectors which were: clean drinking water, literacy, self-sufficiency in food grains, a health post for every village, a motorable dirt track linking every village to the main road and income generation (including access to credit). The villages then submitted the priorities to district committee members, who ranked the projects according to the number of men and women who will benefit from them coupled with the estimated cost and availability of funds. Money for the projects was then found from donor agencies and the Central Government. For example, 9 kilometres of road were constructed up a rock cliff in Tanahun with people donating labor and the Ministry of Roads covering the engineer's salary.
For drinking water, local villagers were willing to dig their own reservoirs, repair their irrigation systems with technical assistance. The UNDP "Seed Grant" funds were used to provide matching funds. Initially, people in Kathmandu argued that the rural villagers were too poor to be required to provide cost sharing to be eligible to access these seed grants. In reality, the people were more than willing to provide substantial contributions to create or repair infrastructure that was their own priority. In several cases, 90% of the costs was borne by the villagers with the UNDP project only providing assistance for those materials not available locally.
Some of the critical lessons learned from the Nepal experience can be summarized as follows:
- DSP/PDDP's catalytic role in support of decentralization not only enhanced participation and empowerment through capacity building and by being responsive to local needs, but it also contributed to UNDP's own SHD-oriented project pipeline development.
- Accountability is possible through strengthening various tiers of power; as exemplified by the Districts' growing awareness of both their rights and their responsibilities (until dissolution).
- Voice and choice were enhanced: local communities were empowered to direct their own development agendas with the assistance of UNDP
- Decentralization did not take place in a vacuum: democracy, economic liberalization of the economy and privatization were all part of the institutional context.
- The concept of ownership is crucial- it is an effective method of mobilizing development resources in rural areas; contrasting strongly with many "policy dialogue" type projects funded by donor agencies which can be confrontational and impose a set of foreign beliefs on resistant officials.
- Formation of policies is not enough - decentralization needs a strong political commitment with a legal basis.
- Decentralization is an incremental long-term process; there is no quick fix solution to institution building.
Bangladesh: Laying the Framework
The Mid Term Review of the UNDP Community Empowerment Projects in Bangladesh suggested that donor support to community based micro-credit and social mobilization does not have sufficient impact on poverty. The review argued that institutional linkages between communities and local government were needed as well as a process of channeling lessons learned at the local level upward to the national policy making entities. Subsequent to this review, the Bangladesh Country Office commissioned a team to design a new project. The team designed a one-year Preparatory Assistance project that was intended as an opportunity to explore the possibilities for addressing those proposals. The focus of the PA was on learning how local institutions interact with one another and the way in which they develop and share knowledge.
The PA was implemented in 2002-2003 by a local firm. During the project period, they engaged with elected leaders at the Union level, local and national NGOs, groups of private entrepreneurs and the deconcentrated national government staff at the sub-district level. The team spent considerable time to learn how the existing pattern of communication and decision-making is conducted at this level. In the limited geographic extent of the PA, the catalytic interventions of the PA team resulted in significant improvement in the communication patterns among all project partners. In particular, the elected leaders began to recognize a far broader mandate for themselves.
The PA carefully documented the existing vertical information flows in the system and the limited authority for local decision making. However, they also saw that small interventions could result in significant changes in those patterns. The conclusions of the PA team affirmed the initial hypothesis that the 'meso' level institutional linkages can be developed through external facilitation and without the need to create elaborate new systems or structures. The team also concluded that a broad spectrum approach to poverty reduction is required, far beyond the typical scope of micro-credit projects. Such an approach should include education, health, agriculture and social welfare. Associated with this finding was the conclusion that multi-sectoral collaboration should be focused on broad strategies for local economic development that extend far beyond typical 'development schemes'. The involvement of private sector was critical in expanding this development vision. Sharing information proved to be one of the most significant obstacles during the PA period. They concluded that considerable effort needs to be focused on this seemingly mundane matter.
Significantly, there were no conclusions drawn by the PA team that countered any of the lessons learned during the implementation of either the USAID GOLD project in the Philippines or the UNDP support to decentralization in Nepal. One of the strongest links was the finding in Bangladesh, as in the Philippines and Nepal, that local ownership requires local action. Creating a space for men and women to quickly get to work on activities of local interest, rather than getting bogged down in lengthy and intricate planning exercises, is an effective move. The need for national support was also affirmed.
During the PA period, Bangladesh underwent elections for local governments at several levels where no elected official had ever sat previously. There is still considerable confusion in the country regarding the level of political support for decentralized governance. Nevertheless, the supportive findings of the recent PA team provide a solid basis for moving ahead with an explicitly HRBAD programme framework in Bangladesh.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Decentralized Governance and a Human Rights-based Approach to Development Series of Note # 1

Paul Lundberg had a lot of discussions over the concepts of Human Rights-based Approach to Development in a number of articles. Since Paul was involved in Nepal in developing the concept of bringing government closer to people in the form of several decentralization projects, we thought these concepts are very timely and relevant for developing the New Nepal Development Framework for any one. These articles are simpe and fun to read.

Concept of decentralized local governance was introduced in Nepal actually after the restoration of democracy in 1990 by "Jana Andolan I". The first project was Strengthening Decentralized Planning, which got drastic face change in its second incarnation "Decentralization Support Project". This project was transformed into a "Participatory District Development Programme" in 1995. It was during the Decentralization Support Project (1992-1995) that an innovative GIS was also developed that first time demonstrated the utility of GIS for local governance and national planning in Nepal.

We will continue to put together all these materials by Paul in one place in this blog in the forms of links and copies.

Here is an article by Paul Lundberg, that was published in Sudan Vision. Enjoy!

Decentralized Governance and a Human Rights-based Approach to Development
Date: Tuesday, September 11 @ 00:15:00 BST
Topic: Main News

By Paul Lundberg
Independent Consultant
The issue of human rights has not figured prominently in the ongoing discussion on decentralization. In part, this is because human rights advocates have focused their attention on getting central governments to accept the basic HR principles.

Human rights advocates have only recently begun to consider the effects of decentralizing decision-making power to lower levels of government. As they begin to focus on this growing political phenomenon, they are increasingly recognizing that such process creates new opportunities to promote HR as well as threats to protection. Indeed, issues of justice, accountability, poverty reduction, employment/livelihood, environment, women and children are fundamental concerns of local development.
Nepal: Participative District Development Programme
The passage of the Nepal Local Self-Governance Act in 1999 gave a major boost to the promotion of decentralized governance in Nepal. The Act delegated substantial new authority and responsibilities to locally elected authorities (District, Municipality and Village councils) relating both to revenue generation as well as to development activities formerly carried out by line ministries.
Many features of the Act were patterned after the systems and processes developed under the two UNDP-supported projects, the Participative District Development Programme (PDDP) and the Local Governance Programme (LGP.) These two projects continue to introduce participative planning, social mobilization, and district-led development in many districts of the country. Unfortunately, the local government system of Nepal was disbanded by the Prime Minister in July 2002. Subsequently, the entire Parliament was disbanded by the King in the following October. Presently the King heads an unelected government at the center and bureaucrat administrators manage the affairs of local government units. Although there is no prognosis as to when democracy will return to Nepal, UNDP is continuing its assistance at the grassroots level and is currently forging a unification of the two major projects into one.
UNDP assistance to decentralized governance goes back at least 20 years in Nepal. In 1982 quiet support was given to government experts who designed the first royal decentralization act. Although this act did not result in significant changes in the manner of governance nor in the quality or equity of public service delivery, it did establish a precedent. This precedent was taken up by the revolutionary democratic government that came to power in April 1990. The government requested UNDP assistance in designing and supporting a new system of democratic decentralized governance.
Over the next five years, the UNDP Decentralization Support Project worked at both national and local levels to identify critical aspects of local governance that could be supported with external assistance. At the same time, a parallel intervention from the UNDP South Asian Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP) established itself in one of the DSP districts, Syangja. This programme was based upon principles of community organization and self-reliance that had their origins in the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme of the Northern Areas in Pakistan and, earlier, in the Comilla project of, the then, East Pakistan.
In 1995, UNDP/Nepal undertook a Mid-Term Review of its Country Program. During the MTR process it became clear that the philosophical orientation of the Decentralization Support Project and SAPAP and the success they had shown in working with local institutions had greatly influenced the thinking of the UNDP management and staff. When the UNDP office was asked by its regional bureau to name a flagship project that typified its approach to Sustainable Human Development, the office chose the Decentralization Support Project. The UNDP management continually referred to this project as the 'backbone' of its entire country program. Several new projects were started that indicated a sharp change from the previously centralized and sectoral approach. For example, the Parks and People project was initiated with the Ministry of Forestry, but bordering districts and villages were heavily involved in both the planning and implementation of the project. Likewise, the UNDP AIDS project and Labor-based Roads Project were designed to be run through the districts rather than the central ministries.
In December 1995 the DSP was replaced by the Participatory District Development Project (PDDP). The PDDP was designed to consolidate and improve on the results obtained and lessons learned from the previous project. At the local level, it aimed to institutionalize participative development by enhancing the capacities and capabilities of the Districts and Villages as well as helping them establish linkages between various local level organizations like the private sector, women's groups. community organizations, NGOs and line agencies.
To achieve these goals, the PDDP divided its task into seven major sectors:
1. Institutionalizing a participative program and planning process based on transparency of decision making and coordination between political bodies, technical agencies, NGOs and the community.
2. Developing "trickle up" information systems where data collected at individual settlements was aggregated to higher levels at the village and district. The comprehensive database and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) maps were designed to improve the flow of information. Eventually, HDI maps of individual districts and villages were produced, sparking a major shift in information use at both the local and national levels.
3. Providing management support to improve the organizational capacity of the Districts through account management packages and restructuring of Districts.
4. Encouraging social mobilization by providing catalytic seed grants selectively for improving infrastructure, increasing productivity and supporting capital generating activities like savings/credit schemes.
5. Promoting partnership building among Districts, Villages, CBOs, and private organizations to promote local industrial and commercial development.
6. Human resource development of professionals, program staff, DDC, Villages, government agencies, political parties and private sector associations through training packages on Sustainable and Participative Development.
7. Supporting action oriented research on sustainable human development on issues such as poverty alleviation, women's development, and environmental management and employment generation.
Community mobilization

The most significant shift from the DSP orientation lay in the approach to community mobilization. PDDP took a significant step in broadening the range of beneficiary groups that benefit directly from the project. Community mobilization activities are the dominant aspect of the project's activities in all districts. The way this was added to the project repertoire is an interesting case of programmatic cross-fertilization.
Syangja District was one of the six original districts covered by the Decentralization Support Project. During the early days of DSP, Syangja District was a leader in experimenting with ways to build more productive relations between local government and NGOs, especially women's' groups. Thus, when UNDP's regional bureau proposed to include Nepal in its South Asian Poverty Alleviation Program (PAP), the National Planning Commission decided that the field activities should be located in Syangja in order to take advantage of the social capital that had already been created.
Interestingly, the SAPAP Senior Advisor initially opposed this selection because he did not like working with local governments.
The Nepal Poverty Alleviation Project operated in Syangja from 1995 to 2002 and considerable knowledge was generated from its efforts. The project focused its attention on understanding the appropriate steps required to enable rural villagers to believe in their own ability to change their future, with UNDP acting as the catalyst for social and financial mobilization. The project assisted in the formation of savings groups, helped these groups to establish procedures for lending among themselves, and guided the groups in their efforts to plan the rational use of the pooled resources.
This basic social mobilization approach has been linked, by PDDP, with the concepts of self-governance and self-organization of farmer organizations and local government units. In order to accomplish this, the management of SAPAP, PDDP and its sister project in eastern Nepal, the Local Governance Project; the UNDP, the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Local Development collaborated closely over the past eight years. This inter-project relationship enabled SAPAP to remain small to focus on knowledge creation, and to benefit from the lessons learned through the PDDP/LGP the national expansion without having to split its own efforts between process development and expansion. SAPAP has now closed, PDDP and LGP are in the process of a merger, the status of decentralized governance units remains in question but UNDP is convinced that continued effort to support the development of self-reliance at the community level is a vital aspect of SHD through, as this paper would argue, a human rights-based approach to development.

This article comes from Sudan Vision Daily News Paper Official Website

The URL for this story is:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Control of leaf eating caterpillar in Moringa

The news below is from The Hindu (daily) from India about the pest control on Moringa Oliefera Tree. The original source of the article is given here.

Control of leaf eating caterpillar in Moringa

Moringa oleifera is famous as a vegetable used in southern Indian dishes due to its unique taste and medicinal properties and it is also a highly renumerative commercial crop for farmers.

Serious pest
A specific pest called leaf eating caterpillar Noorda blitealis earlier considered as a minor pest usually infests the crops during during December-January over south India, and is causing serious problems because of its high population buildup.

Females lay creamy, oval eggs on leaves, which hatch in 2-3days. Larvae feed on leaflets in a thin silken web on the lower surface.

Dried leaves

The leaves appear papery and get dried. If left untreated, the whole tree is defoliated. Grown-up larvae pupate in the soil. An adults emerge in 6-9 days and life cycle continues.

Severe infestation occurs on new flush of the crop during June-August which later recedes.

It is advisable to go for collection and destruction of leaves with silken webs and caterpillars in the initial stages of infestation.

The young larvae feed voraciously on the foliage and strip the branches completely. The moths are medium sized, having forewings with rectangular, apex with erect outer margin and uniformly dark in colour with small white streak at the inner area of base.

Pest control

Adult moths may be collected through light traps and destroyed.

Hand picking of larva in early stages may be effective in reducing population built-up.

Provision for sitting arrangement for birds above the height of the moringa crop in field enabling the birds to visit and prey them.

One to two sprays of Malathin (2ml/lit) can be applied to reduce infestation. Dichlorvos (0.04 per cent) and Fenthion (0.05 per cent) were found effective in combating the pest.

P. Murugesan

Regional Research Station

National Horticultural Research & Development Foundation, Kadapa District

Andhra Pradesh