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Carter Center Long-Term Impact in Nepal Rooted in Local Encounters

BenDunant

Ben Dunant is a Carter Center observer in Nepal.

Since 2009, The Carter Center has monitored and reported on topics related to Nepal’s peace process. The Center’s long-term observers often travel to remote communities to gain an understanding of citizen perspectives, and they are currently reporting on local governance issues.

We sat within walls of mud and thatch that warped gently into corners that flaked at the seams, cross-legged on thick carpets with woven Tibetan patterns. Our hosts in the village of Sikles presented us with local food that arrived in portion after portion, all accompanied by steamy hot glasses of raksi, the milky-colored spirit distilled from harvested millet.

A representative of one of Nepal’s major political parties sat with us. The best educated and most energetic of all the village’s sons, in the absence of any elected local leaders he had become the acknowledged leader of the community. The man was the first port of call for any grievances or disputes among the people of Sikles. His verdict was considered final and he was someone – in contrast to a reduced, overburdened local administration – who could get things done for people.

Nepal last held comprehensive local elections in 1997, and the terms of the last elected local bodies expired in 2002. The ensuing decade-long vacuum has had troubling implications for responsive, inclusive governance at the local level. It has resulted in local administrators assuming unreasonable workloads and inappropriate duties, and the creation of informal governing mechanisms that are prone to instability.

We are focusing our current observation efforts toward a Carter Center report on local governance, studying how popular participation and representation has been ensured in the absence of electoral safeguards.

The phenomenon in Sikles — of an influential local stakeholder assuming the duties conventionally taken by elected bodies, and on the basis of social, rather than official, authority — was a telling example of how one close-knit community responded to an ongoing situation of wider national uncertainty.

Since October, I have had the privilege of traveling the beautiful Western region with my international and Nepali teammates, talking to people like those we met in Sikles. Days of arduous travel in rough weather and over rougher terrain are compensated every time by the affectionate welcome of the Nepali people. Whatever their political persuasion or personal circumstance, stakeholders and citizens alike appreciate our long-term commitment to aiding durable peace and inclusive democracy.

While The Carter Center meets and notes the concerns of stakeholders at all levels, its pioneering work in Nepal is rooted in these intimate encounters. Few international organizations can claim to see the country like we do.

In the face of ongoing divisions in post-conflict Nepal, we draw our optimism for its future from this warm affirmation of our shared relationship — a relationship that we intend to sustain and build upon.

Read about the Carter Center’s work in Nepal at www.cartercenter.org/nepal.

nepal-observers-listen
Based in Nepal’s Western region, the team of Rokey Suleman (third from left), Ben Dunant (white shirt),
and Shekhar Parajuli (far right) talk with Nepalis as part of their long-term observation efforts. (All photos:
The Carter Center)

observer-talks-with-nepalis
Carter Center observer Lena Michaels talks with Nepalis in the Eastern Region. The Center’s long-term observers often travel to remote communities to gain an understanding of citizens’ perspectives.

nepal-observer-sharing-report
In Midwestern Region, a Carter Center observer shares a copy of the Center’s latest report. The Center has monitored and reported on topics related to Nepal’s peace process since 2009.

Posted in Countries, Democracy, Elections, Nepal, Peace

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  • 1

    joseph perlstein on April 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    being 6 years old, one zero added recently, to change nothing but only contribute footnote i do thank the altruist people, Ben and all his friends, from bottom of my heart and i mean it really, for still young people, unlike greedy condors to lend on frail souls- beasts for devastation,either brains” treatment” erasing tender,even nervous and shattered but Carter look is to navigate different way than what my life experience to indicate- instead making big cash grinding human bones you arrive such remote landscapes, only adventurers visit for exotic memories but you acting gallant, gentle and the american way, charming,naive, good natured and mostly non- arrogant- really in insight of “words to heal- not to harm” President Obama based on great former personalities in White House- as a trend steady for goodness instead of ancient exploitation,by your mission US to remain the only alternative for doing together, equal eye-to eye while other forces are shifting slave labor to penetrate harsh doctrines that some of them are under my skin, even recent very tough years- however i still wonder and can not explain why didn’t Carter Center present in notorious soviet psichiatric concentration camp ” Barnaul” why don’t you demand to clear all hidden policies that took rid from what was named in vulgar Latin
    ” creatures of landscape”, your voice wasn’t heard in compound of evil where survivors of Block 10 under Dr.& Ph.D Joseph Mengele, already waiting the eternal freedom were exploited by Kaplan- Harzfeld medical stuff for some psichiatric drug experiments causing starvation- so escaping

  • 2

    joseph perlstein on April 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    so escaping Satan they perished as hunger caused them to vomit their souls by their own gang,junta of what alienated me from all, just because i can’t forgive, some of around sites and sound , if Pere Eternele to investigate me then i was, sow and heard- my own mother was delivered in way western docs examined polaroid photos.-other gentle great personalities dealt with it. and as SAPARE AUDE- dare to revise, to re-asses,then Nepal, as i may feel some of far remote from media, public opinion and means to put light- such places are containing dark shadows,no way that mighty regional muscular homo sapiens apes will not take advantage- i wasn’t born yesterday, but mountains of Nepal are still much more at hand than asphalt desert somewhere midway from US to Nepal-and its much more fruitful to negotiate with daily, living harsh but daily lives of whole people than to dedicate ten minutes meeting a life story really 1001 night-meres stories

  • 3

    timupham on April 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    The problem Nepal has, is that so many people go out and collect firewood. This has led to deforestation, siltation, and erosion of the Himalayan Mountains. Also, people going out to collect firewood, it takes them further out into the forests, where they come into contact with endangered animals, such as Bengal tigers and Indian rhinoceros. So Nepal needs desperately to find alternatives to wood as fuel, by developing their biofuels from domestic animal waste. This can take the pressure off deforestation, siltation, erosion, and endangered species. Erosion from the Himalayan Mountains is showing up as siltation in the Brahmaputra River.

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