Human Right to Food in Nepal: Report of an International Fact-Finding Mission page – 5

Human Right to Food in Nepal: Report of an International Fact-Finding Mission

Rights & Democracy

The Fact-Finding Mission

1 The FFM was undertaken in cooperation with the Right to Food Unit at the FAO, the Right to Food Research Unit at the University of Geneva, and FIAN International.

The FFM objectives were as follows:

  • Assess hunger and food insecurity in Nepal from a human rights perspective.

  • Apply the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the human right to food in a practical context.

  • Make recommendations in relation to using a human rights framework

for policy and program development. The FFM paid particular attention to restricted or denied access to productive resources, internal displacement linked to infrastructure development, the situation of bonded labourers, agrarian reform and the rights of peasants, as well as the impact of food aid. Special emphasis was also placed on the rights of indigenous peoples, women and low caste communities (Dalits).

The FFM delegation included representatives from both national and international organizations. The 13 delegates were divided into three teams for the site visits and into two teams for interviews in Kathmandu. The complete list of mission delegates and interviews is provided as an annex to this report.

Site Visits, Interviews and Public Engagements

The three site visit teams visited affected communities in the districts of Siraha, Makawanpur, Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Banke, Jumla, Dadeldhura and Achham. In Kathmandu, FFM members met with parliamentarians and representatives of government ministries, donor countries, UN agencies and civil society. At the conclusion of the site visits and interviews, the FFM delegation hosted a public seminar in Kathmandu to present preliminary findings and to seek additional input from a wider range of national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders.

Site Visit to Central/East, Terai Region

The Terai, or plains, region of Nepal is an agricultural, food surplus area bordering the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the south.

The site visit team visited four districts in the central-eastern region: Siraha, Makwanpur, Nawalparasi, and Chitwan, targeting Dalit and indigenous communities, both of which reported chronic food insecurity despite living in a food surplus area of the country. Discrimination, manifested in several ways, was found to be at the root of food insecurity for these groups. In addition, the team hosted a roundtable discussion with fifteen NGOs in Lahan, Siraha District and met with local representatives of political parties.

Site Visit to Mid-west Region, Banke and Jumla

The site visit team visited Banke, a food surplus area and Jumla, a food deficit area in the mid-west region of Nepal.

The primary issues addressed in Banke were flooding, access to land, migration and the situation of bonded labourers. Team members met with Dalit communities affected by dam flooding and river cutting. Meetings were also held with landlords, local development officers and a regional representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In Jumla, the team looked at women’s access to food and the role of the National Food Corporation (NFC) in the delivery of food aid. Meetings were held with both communities and local NGOs.

Site Visit to Far-west Region, Achham and Dadeldhura

Dadeldhura and Achham districts are food deficit areas located in the far-western hills of Nepal. In Achham, the site visit team focused on the situation of flood victims, landless Dalits, women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and the impacts of migration on sustainable access to adequate food. Community consultations were accompanied by meetings with local officials in Mangalsen and a roundtable discussion with a series of organizations that work specifically on the issue of HIV/AIDS. In Dadeldhura, the site visit team addressed chronic food insecurity as experienced by freed bonded labourers (Haliyas).

Interviews with Officials in Kathmandu

FFM members met with a range of stakeholders in Kathmandu including government representatives, UN agencies, donor country representatives and political parties.2

Meetings with government included the Ministers of Land Reform and Agriculture, officials at the Department of Health, the National Planning Commission (NPC), the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), the NFC and the NHRC. The FFM members also met with representatives of political parties including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the United Marxist Leninist (UML), and representatives of the Inter-party Women’s Alliance, which gathers women politicians across political parties.

FFM members met with representatives of the UN in Nepal, including the UN Development Program (UNDP), the World Food Program (WFP), the FAO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal. Among donor countries, the delegation met with the Canadian Cooperation Office, the German GTZ, UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Additional meetings were organized with local and international NGOs including Action Aid Nepal, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), National Democratic Institute, Lutheran World Federation, Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) and the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC).

Civil Society Seminar

At the conclusion of the FFM, the mission members hosted a public seminar for civil society organizations and other stakeholders. The purpose of the seminar was to disseminate the FFM’s preliminary findings and to debate the use of the human rights framework for addressing hunger in Nepal.

The seminar was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and chaired by the Officiating Secretary of the NHRC. The seminar featured presentations from the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Food and the FAO. Representatives of each site visit team presented their experiences, followed by plenary discussion and the formulation of recommendations for next steps.

 

<<< NOTES

1 – See Human Right to Food in Malawi: Report of a Fact-Finding Mission, Rights & Democracy and FIAN International, 2006, www.dd-rd.ca.

2 – See annex 3.