Accessing Rights and Resources for Poor and Disadvantaged Communities

Accessing Rights and Resources for Poor and Disadvantaged Communities

Nepal
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Rights of local users especially poor, women and disadvantaged groups in natural resources like forest, water, waste land, community pond, etc. need to be guaranteed and users need to be informed and empowered to utilize them. Government and non-government services and facilities need to become accessible if they are to be used by poor. Users need to be organized to participate in decision making.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Government being populist brings programs on rights, services and facilities meant for poor, women and disadvantaged people but usually the targeted people do not know about them. Thus they are mis-utilized and misused but in papers and reports it is shown that they are achieved. So, they are always marginalized. Similarly, any community resources are supposed to be managed by local users by consensus but usually so-called social mobilizers are not oriented about the process so just to reach the targets they form such organizations and only those who have reach take part in the process. So community resources have become property of rich, powerful and elites; and usually poor and women are not only marginalized but even exploited. It has happened in many resource management programs including community forest. The problems arise because social mobilizers are not properly trained to be real participatory. People are not made aware of their rights and prepared to utilize their rights to access resources. In a hierarchical society as Nepal, people are usually are dictatorial, so they need to learn democratic process, art of conflict management and negotiation and making decisions

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Development until now is focusing mostly on giving and handing over resources, which is creating begging mentality and dependency; because of this we in WATCH believed that only people can extricate themselves from poverty, helplessness, exploitation and dependency. People need to have information, knowledge, skills, technology and willingness. WATCH believes that people have enough resources which need management. WATCH instead of imposing ideas and bringing resources from outside, helps people to identify their own resources and develop plan of actions to manage them. The idea is unique because it empowers disadvantaged communities, poor and women by making them aware about their rights, prepare them and develop their self-esteem to utilize such rights to access resources for management by creating their own organizations like user groups. The process starts with home visits to raise their awareness and prepare them to form groups to embolden and empower themselves. Then they take part in social and resource mapping to identify possible resources and possibilities, They also take transect walk to discuss possibilities in those resources. At the end, they develop charters to run their organization and management plan to utilize resources with consensus. Similar process is followed with individual family to identify resources and utilize them. This process makes people themselves decision makers and actors. It is participatory and inclusive. A lot of dialogue, discussion, reflection, and conflict negotiation is required to reach consensus. It becomes a place for them to learn and exercise democratic process. However, it is a participatory democracy where every one’s voice is counted and recognized. It focuses on possibilities and opportunities rather than problems, thus it deals with constructive and positive aspects, which may help people to be positive, optimistic and visionary.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

WATCH will work in ten VDCs of Nawalparasi district in Nepal with approximate population of 70 thousand. It will select those VDCs which are poor and inhabited by Tharu, Musehar, Harijan communities who are poor and marginalized. WATCH will identify five community forests, couple of irrigation ditches, waste land and barren river banks, community ponds and other community resources where poor people are marginalized. All the communities will be made aware about legalities through home visits, group discussions, audio-visual materials, legal discussions and training. If marginalized people showed interest they will be organized as user group members. They will be prepared and empowered seek their rights especially in decision making during assemblies and preparation of management plans As until now those resources have become prerogative of a few elites and powerful people. They will strat advocating and negotiating for their rights and roles. They will be encouraged to utilize the resources for production purposes like vine crops, grasses, herbs in community forests; fish and ducks in the ponds; tree and grass planting in the waste land, etc. people themselves will manage resources and start utilizing them for poverty alleviation. Also they will start practicing live democracy. At the individual and family level “Poverty to Prosperity” exercise will be initiated, in which people are helped to bring out their dream, assess their resources to realize the dream, develop plan of actions to implement actions. Initially, a few poorest people will be selected and once they do something they are used as models for others to do similar actions.
About You
Organization:
Women Acting Together for Changr (WATCH)
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Sarmila

Last Name

Shrestha

Country

, BA

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Women Acting Together for Changr (WATCH)

Organization Phone

977 1 4492644

Organization Address

572/45 Ram Mandir Marga, Battis Putali, Kathmandu

Organization Country

, BA

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, BA

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

The following actions will be undertaken for accessing rights nad community resources:
1. Identification community resources like forest, water, waste and barren land, ponds, etc.
2. Marginalized and disadvantaged communities are made aware of their legal rights through household visits and prepared them to access their rights.
3. Formation of groups of marginalized people, women, people with disabilities to access rights and resources.
4. Marginalized people will take part in decision making like writing of organizational charters, development of management plans, assemblies, elections, etc.
5. Social maps are prepared and transect walks undertaken to identify resources and possibilities for management options.
6. Marginalized people are supported to get community resources for utilization.
7. Training and capacity building of users are done so that resources are managed.

For poverty to prosperity exercise WATCH first lets the people evaluate themselves on their current situation and how those people feel about it. This is based on eight stages of dialogue and conversations that are held with the people in question to determine.

Results

1. Communal resources are managed with consensus of users and users’ rights to make decisions are honored and respected.
2. Users become aware of their legal and human rights and prepared to assert them to access the resources.
3. Living democracy is practiced at the grassroots kevel for management of resources.
4. Livelihood situation is enhanced and food security is guaranteed by using communal resources for production purposes and income generation.
5. Proper processes for successful management of community resources by consensus of users is practiced and understood
6. Poor people will go through “Poverty to Prosperity” exercise, identify their dream to guide their life, assess available resources and develop action plans to implement them.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If so, how?

Policy is formed without practice because of which they fail. People usually do not know about them and policy framers do not provide any support to implement them. This project will make people aware about policies, try to implement them. In course of implementation, if ther are any problems and difficulties or any practical ideas for implementation, they will be shared with policy makers as feedback to the policies.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

As dealing with community resource management require partnership all sections of communities, local government agencies and government agencies because evry one of them are stakeholders and claim ownership. So there is need for developing a common vision about the management of that resource among all the stakeholders. Without consensus of users and stakeholders no resource is possible to manage effectively. However, roles, responsibilities and rights of stakeholders have to be defined and specified.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Approximately 300 words left (2400 characters).

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Projects imposed by outside provided some immediate benefit but did not last long. So people became worse than before. They developed dependency and begging mentality. Realizing this, we were looking for other options. We met Dr. Shrestha and visited community forests which he had been promoting. Looking at processes and success of community forestry, we approached Dr. Shrestha to initiate similar process in other sectors. This did not require outside resources because resources are there to manage. Working togther with him helped us to shape our ideas, trust on people and their capabilities, and looking at people as solutions rather than problems. We are told that Nepal is a resource poor country and that’s why are poor. But working with him we started seeing resources everywhere. Possibilities and opportunities are also abundant. Our own visioning started to become positive. Rather than thinking about the problems which stopped people from moving ahead we started to look at possibilities and grab them. This has brought a sea-change in our thinking which is guiding WATCH as an organization and its processes while working with marginalized and disadvantaged communities. In a hierarchical society like Nepal, Dr Shrestha emphasized ob rights of everyone and recognizing and honoring which are essence of democracy and inclusiveness and key to promoting participation.

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

Dr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha is known as pioneer of community forestry in Nepal and elsewhere. Dr. Shrestha is very committed to upliftment of poor, indigenous people, women, exploited and oppressed groups and communities, and improvement of environment through natural resources management by local communities by themselves. He has unshakable faith in communities' capacities to manage their resources and hence solve their problems. His relentless and untiring efforts have culminated tested and proven successful community forestry process, liberal and practical forestry rules and regulations including the Forestry Sector Master Plan (1989-2010), vibrant and dynamic 16000 user groups managing more than 1.2 million Ha. of forests, halting of forest degradation, production of trained and qualified facilitators, very active federation (FECOFUN) safeguarding rights of users, about Rs. 130 million in the users' fund for community development, a living school for community forestry learning and so on. So his contribution to this effect is quite admirable and recognized internationally. He was associated with the International Network of Forest and Communities as an Advisor; with Global Caucus for Community Based Natural Resource Management as one of the three member Executive; with Forests, Trees and People's Program (FAO) Facilitator for South Asia; with IUCN as Forest Conservation Advisory Group Member, with the World Bank as Advisory Panel Member for forest policy review, and so on. His contribution in this field is quite tremendous. His contribution for promoting community forestry all over the world is recognized by the XII Forestry Congress and invited him as a first plenary speaker to speak from the perspective of communities. He is known as friends, philosopher and guide of communities wanting to mange their resources so that environment can be improved. Later, he expanded the same idea with irrigation water users and helped form National Federation of Irrigation Water Users Association in Nepal.. The principal, processes and program are the same.

Dr. Shrestha visioned community resource management as a tool for community organizing and solving community problems through consensual decision making where poor and disadvantaged will have the say and decision making rights, for which he developed a process of empowering and organizing poorest and voiceless, and training packages to help dictatorial and imposing government officials and elites to be participatory and inclusive. Recently, Dr. Shrestha is supporting WATCH to initiate “Poverty to Prosperity” campaign, which focuses on poor family to develop their dreams (visions), assess their own resources and develop a plan of actions to manage those resources to achieve the dreams. Almost similar proceses is being piloted to strengthen women’s groups. Dr. Shrestha believes that without vision any person, family or organization cannot move towards proper direction. He is also against making people beggars which are being done by government as well as so-called NGOs. This mentality of dependency is the main cause of under development.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Newsletter from Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information.

WATCH considered once to nominate one of its staff as a fellow, so iy contacted country rep.

Additional
Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Policy advocacy to strengthen property rights or increase security of tenure, Legal education and awareness, Developing/applying technology for surveying, mapping and documenting property rights.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

Policy is operational if people understand abd utilize them. Until now policy is referred as blocks rather than facilitation. Policies in natural resources management and pro-poor policies are framed but there is tendency to keep them in papers only. The project expects to make peopel aware of policies and implement them. Participatory tools and techniques are used for development of management.

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