Governance and citizenship from below: Views of poor and excluded groups and their vision for a New Nepal (2009)

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  Latent and violent unrest has plagued Nepal since the process of parliamentary politics was reintroduced in 1991 after 50 years of monarchical rule. This document focuses on grassroots experiences and understandings of governance and citizenship, and the implications of these for state building in post-conflict Nepal. This study asks how poor people understand citizenship, how do they experience and practise it, what barriers do they face and how do they think these could be overcome?  The authors also explore poor and excluded groups’ vision for a New Nepal following Jana Andolan (the People’s Movement ), the November 2006 peace agreement and the emergence of the democratically elected government in May 2008. Overall the findings of this study suggest that many poor and excluded citizens are optimistic about the future following the peace process and are enthusiastic to participate and play a role in the reform process. The documents argues that the importance of this should not be underestimated for the challenging state building process Nepal is now embarking upon. However, in many countries emerging from conflict, governments often fail to capitalise on people’s enthusiasm for peace and to sustain the expectations of their citizens about peace dividends, especially in terms of services and accountable government structures.The document emphasises that addressing deeply entrenched social hierarchies (caste, ethnicity, gender, class) is an important priority for poor and excluded groups, as social exclusion is an important impediment to poverty alleviation and political representation. Additional findings include:
  • there is very strong support for peace among poor and excluded communities, regardless of
    their experiences during and views of the decade-long conflict;
  • there is strong support among poor and excluded groups for greater decentralisation;
  • there was very limited donor and NGO presence in the study communities, as evidenced by the
    low levels of reliance on non-state organisations. This suggests that many poverty alleviation
    efforts are not reaching the poorest;
  • poor and excluded groups are not habituated to social exclusion, domination and injustice;
  • poor people’s priorities were first and foremost context-specific, suggesting that local level
    decision-making is critical to ensure that people’s development priorities are effectively met.
Language: English
Imprint: ODI Working Paper 301, April 2009: Results of ODI research presented in preliminary form for discussion and critical comment: Eldis: 2009
Series: Report,