Interaction programme on local level restructuring and media organized

Local level and local bodies are the key to addressing balanced and equal distribution of rights and authority to all diverse groups of people as acknowledged by the Constitution of Nepal. The strengthening of local level is parallel to ensuring basic democratic rights of the citizens of the federal democratic nation and to respect and preserve Nepal's ethnic and cultural diversity.

To address this vital issue, on 3rd February 2017, Development Communication Society (SODEC) Nepal organized an interaction programme on Local Level Restructuring and Media in Kathmandu. The interaction was focused on the issues, process and challenges of determining special, protected and autonomous area under local level restructuring process. This programme was organized to sensitize the journalists to develop public discourse and awareness regarding the local level restructuring that is proceeding by the local level restructuring commission

The Commission which was formed on 14th March 2016, in accordance with Article 295 (3) of the constitution, was tasked by the government to determine the number and border of the Village Bodies, Municipalities, and Special, Protected and Autonomous Areas. The commission has already submitted its report to the government by determining the numbers and borders of Local units. Now, the commission is working for special, protected and autonomous territory which is supposed to be completed within a month.

During the interaction programme, chairperson of the Commission Mr Balananda Poudel shed light on the functionality and work progress of the Commission and also emphasizing on the important role of media in generating the public discourse. “We have not been able to hold as much discussions as we originally intended but due to very short time period of the Commission to deliver a concrete output in such complex and contentious issue, we had our hands tied,” said Mr Poudel during his Power Point presentation.

The Commission also asked for support from the government, political leader, experts and especially from media to help them derive the definitions and denotation of the vocabulary used in the constitution. “There is a lack of definition of most of the sensitive issues that needs to be addressed by the Commission and it is only through people’s support that we can achieved it as envisioned by the Constituion of Nepal,” Mr Poudel said.

Similarly, Mr Krishna Prasad Sapkota, founder Chair at Association of District Development Committees of Nepal (ADDCN) and expert of local governance, provided his inputs through a historical analysis on revision of discriminatory approach against marginalized, aboriginal and indigenous peoples throughout the world. “Looking through the world history, we should take note that Nepal’s issue is unique and should be treated likewise. Rather than following certain design, we should formulate one that caters to the native issues the country is facing,” he said.

The interaction programme was attended by 50 media personnel from various national dailies, online, television and radio stations. They also actively participated in the discussion and presented many critical and important questions before the chairperson Mr Paudel and issue expert Mr Sapkota. Amongst the participants, the representatives of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) also provided their views, presenting the floor with diverse opinions.

The interaction concluded that following are the issues of public discourse that needs to promoted by media:

  • • Rigorous follow up from media regarding the concept, need and issues to make the special, protected and autonomous area more participatory;
  • • The concepts regarding Special, protected and autonomous areas should be a key issue of local level restructuring;
  • • Since right of the people of Special, protected and autonomous area will be determined by the law; it requires thorough public discussion;
  • • There is a lack of sufficient national authentic information to analyze the indicators of special, protected and autonomous area;
  • • Since Government of Nepal is delaying public dissemination of the report, it has posed challenges to the LLRC to further its undertaking

Dr Pius Raj Mishra, Executive Director at SODEC- Nepal thanked all the participants on their enthusiastic participation and their passion to ensure full and factual dissemination of information to the general public. He also thanked Commission Chief Mr Poudel for his honest and informative presentation and Mr Sapkota for his enriching insight on historical context and his analysis according to the native dilemma.