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22 Feb 2022 | KSL

Embedding GESI in natural resource management planning at the local government level in Nepal

Binaya Pasakhala & Sushmita Kunwar

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The inclusion of women and disadvantaged groups in planning processes is essential for sustainable natural resource use and equitable benefit sharing. (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

Rural livelihoods depend largely on the use of natural resources. Women being the primary users of natural resources should have an active role in its management and planning. Yet, there remains a gender gap in natural resource management (NRM) as men dominate the decision-making processes.

With the Local Government Act 2017 delegating responsibility to the local government bodies to formulate plans in different sectors, the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) and the Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAWANTI)-Nepal used this opportunity to embed gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in NRM planning.

To scale out GESI-responsive planning processes at the national level, we organized a half-day consultation meeting on 23 December 2021 in Kathmandu. The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA), Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE), National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal (NARMIN), HIMAWANTI, and Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST).

The MoFAGA representatives appreciated the efforts of KSLCDI and HIMAWANTI in integrating GESI into five-year NRM plans at the local level in Bajhang and Darchula districts. Speaking at the event, Basanta Adhikari, Joint Secretary, MoFAGA, remarked, “We can mainstream GESI-responsive plans through the formation of a steering or advisory committee, paving a way for their integration in other thematic sectors such as education and health.” Adhikari also highlighted the importance of focusing on intersectionality in planning, with a particular emphasis on low-income communities.

During the discussion, participants suggested creating a template of the five-year action plans as a guideline to share at provincial and federal levels. To ensure that GESI-responsive plans remain at the centre of the five-year periodic plans, Tara Giri from NARMIN suggested providing orientation sessions for NARMIN staff. She stated that NARMIN could use the expertise and experience of working with municipalities in developing GESI-targeted activities.

The GESI-responsive five-year action plans ensure the inclusion of women and marginalized groups in NRM planning and give them the agency to participate in decision-making processes. Furthermore, the plans can guide the development of annual plans and budgets for rural municipalities, ensuring the allocation of funds to support GESI-targeted activities.

 

During the consultation meeting on 23 December 2021, MoFAGA and NARMIN extended their support in scaling out the GESI-responsive planning process and use of the resource book. (Photo: Sushmita Kunwar/ICIMOD)

 

Building on past work

The consultation meeting continues our past work focused on helping local government bodies integrate GESI in their planning.

Starting with two trainings/planning exercises in 2019 for rural municipality-elected officials from Bajhang and Darchula districts, we prepared five-year GESI-integrated NRM action plans for Saipal Rural Municipality (Bajhang) and Byas Rural Municipality (Darchula). Women and representatives from socially marginalized groups were active participants in the process.

We then shared the five-year plans with relevant stakeholders in their respective district headquarters to explore possibilities of leveraging district-level funds for implementing the plans. In December 2019, we conducted a one-day consultation meeting in Dhangadhi, Sudurpashchim Province, to scale up the GESI-responsive NRM planning process. The representatives from provincial ministries extended their support in implementing the plans through their programmes.

Based on field trainings, we drafted a resource book to support the preparation of GESI-responsive NRM action plans. The resource book will provide stepwise guidance to gather information on natural resources and their interplay with local livelihoods through the gender lens to prepare a five-year GESI integrated NRM plan. The book will also provide guidance on gender budgeting and designing gender-inclusive activities.

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