Enhancing Sub-National Good Governance in Nepal
Local governance and good governance systems thrive because of the public’s interactions with these systems. Is the governance system in my community transparent? Accountable? Responsive and participatory? Why or why not? These are questions that citizens should be seeking answers to. Without citizen and government collaboration, citizens will be left frustrated.
Started after the first federal local-level elections in Nepal, Enhancing Sub-National Good Governance in Nepal is a project implemented in Karnali Province to strengthen citizen participation in local and provincial governance. It works with local community groups and citizens like Dhansari Bista who participated in the first provincial good governance conference in 2021. While reflecting on her work with her community group and the work of Sahakarmi Samaj, the lead organization, Ms Bista said that “being a woman of rural Karnali region, I never got a chance to go out of the house, participate in activities and learn interesting things. Today, I am participating in this event with many leaders of Karnali Province. This is really a new and wonderful experience for me.”
In the years of its implementation, the program has already seen an increase in citizen participation by 47%, now at an average of 79%. The highest level of participation was seen in Salyan and Jajarkot municipalities of Karnali where 89% of citizens reported that they had raised their voices in public forums and governmental committee meetings. The project has accomplished this by engaging both, communities, to strengthen their advocacy skills and forming resilient community groups, as well as local government, to improve their policy dialogues and interactions with citizens.
“The project has been helpful in bridging the communication gap between the local government and citizens. Citizens are now aware of their roles and duties. They approach the rural municipality seeking information,” said Chitra Bahadur Chalaune, Chairperson, Siddhakumakh Rural Municipality.
Local community groups have also helped government agencies by creating different social accountability tools. The data collected by these tools will inform policy makers and give them evidence and reasoning behind different policies. Community groups have built tools and helped collect data on social inequalities, education, sanitation and hygiene, agriculture, and livestock. These are public tools that are shared with the government and communities through public hearings to inform policies and make the public aware of the extent of the issues in their communities.
Community groups also learned about budgeting and budget reviews as a form of social accountability. They have been able to hold interactions with local governments on their budgets, and with 85% of the group members being female, they have advocated for gender-responsive and inclusive budgeting. They are now equipped with the tools to review, evaluate and recommend more inclusive budgets for various public policies.
Enhancing Sub-National Good Governance in Nepal has empowered citizens to become advocates for their communities’ needs, ultimately creating a sustainable, active and resilient governance system with citizens at its core.
Ammar Bahadur Air