Governance and citizenship from below: Views of poor and excluded groups and their vision for a New Nepal

Working and discussion papers
May 2009
Nicola Jones with Binod Bhatta, Gerard Gill, Sara Pantuliano, Hukum Bahadur Singh, Deepak Timsina, Shizu Uppadhaya and David Walker

This is the first community-level participatory research endeavour with poor and excluded groups since the peace process. It focuses on grassroots experiences and understandings of governance and citizenship, and the implications thereof for state building in post-conflict Nepal. Many of the findings about poor people’s priorities and blockages in the system are consistent with earlier participatory research undertaken during the decade-long Nepal Communist Party (NCP) insurgency (NEPAN, 1999,
ActionAid 2004) and also with several more recent qualitative research initiatives (GSEA 2005, UNDP 2006). On the one hand, these commonalities should be seen in a positive light as they represent the development of a growing body of evidence that lends support to a range of policy recommendations aimed at tackling poverty and social exclusion. On the other, they should be viewed with concern and urgently addressed, as it suggests that many of the original sources of the conflict remain unresolved.

It is important to emphasise that although this study included some poverty assessment components, its primary emphasis was on governance and state-citizen relations. The study’s starting point was a conviction that a more nuanced understanding of how poor and excluded groups interact with the state has much to offer policy makers and development practitioners interested in questions of state building and governance, especially in the context of a fragile peace. How do poor people understand
citizenship, how do they experience and practise it, what barriers do they face and how do they think these could be overcome? It also explores poor and excluded groups’ vision for a New Nepal following Jana Andolan 2 (the People’s Movement 2), the November 2006 peace agreement and the emergence of
the democratically elected government in May 2008.

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