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7 Feb 2020 | News

Including neglected voices in natural resource management planning

Gender and social inclusion is a must for ensuring sustainable management of natural resources

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Women are primary users of natural resources but are seldom included in the planning processes (Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

Women are primary users of natural resources; yet their voices are rarely sought when plans are prepared to manage natural resources. Similarly, other disadvantaged groups, including minority social and ethnic communities, are seldom included in the planning process.

With the introduction of a relatively new system of federal governance in Nepal, governments, particularly at local level, are in the process of developing five-year periodic plans that include various sectors such as natural resources, health, and education, among others. This provides an appropriate opportunity to ensure gender and social inclusion (GESI) while preparing these plans.

Through its Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development (KSLCDI) Initiative, ICIMOD has partnered with HIMAWANTI Nepal to work with two rural municipalities – Saipal in Bajhang District and Byas in Darchula District – to prepare GESI-responsive five-year action plans for managing natural resources. The plans were prepared with the active engagement of the respective rural municipality chairpersons, ward representatives, and other stakeholders representing both community as well as government agencies. Special emphasis was placed on securing the participation of women and Dalits in the planning process. Ratna Parki of Byas-6, Darchula, appreciated this inclusive process: “In my village, I am one of few educated Dalit women. Before this, I had never attended any planning process. I am very happy to see our concerns incorporated into the plans.”

The process started with a gender sensitization training using various tools including lectures, group exercises, self and group reflections, and discussions. This was followed by the preparation of the five-year plan integrating GESI perspectives into the activities. Of the total five-year budget, the GESI-responsive budget of Saipal was 4.0% and Byas was 14.0%. The five-year plans were then presented to relevant stakeholders in their respective district headquarters to explore possibilities of leveraging district-level funds for implementing the plans. The meetings were attended by representatives from government offices relating to agriculture, forest, local development, veterinary and livestock, water supply, and sanitation. They indicated their support for implementing the plans.

Both women and men were actively engaged in preparing their five-year GESI-responsive
Both women and men were actively engaged in preparing their five-year GESI-responsive natural resource management plan (Photo: HIMAWANTI Nepal)

 

To upscale the GESI-responsive planning process, the experiences from Saipal and Byas were shared at a meeting in Dhangadi on 18 December 2019. Chaired by Hon. Asha BK, Member of Parliament (Bajhang), the meeting was attended by representatives from Sudurpaschim Province; ministries responsible for agriculture, forest, physical infrastructure development, veterinary, and livestock; and the chief minister’s office. The ministerial representatives appreciated the efforts for GESI integration in the resource planning process and indicated their support to implement the five-year plans through their respective programmes. “We can see that a lot effort has been put to prepare this plan for two remote rural municipalities. Genuine concerns of deprived communities have been included in the plan and the ministry will provide essential support for implementing the plan” stated Hem Raj Awasthi, Senior Livestock Officer, Ministry for Land Management, Agriculture, and Co-operatives.

During the workshop, it was also recommended that the draft training manual to prepare GESI-responsive natural resource management plans be taken forward as a guideline through the relevant ministries at provincial and federal levels. In her concluding remarks, Hon. Asha BK suggested “I request the team to extend this important work to other districts and rural municipalities. I also suggest the team to organize consultation meetings at federal and provincial levels with participation from senior government officials and elected government representatives so that this important process can be taken forward at the national level.”     

The Dhangadi consultation meeting was chaired by Hon. Asha BK, Member of Parliament (Bajhang)
The Dhangadi consultation meeting was chaired by Hon. Asha BK, Member of Parliament (Bajhang) (Photo: HIMAWANTI Nepal)

 

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