By Narayan Adhikari | Country Representative, Accountability Lab Nepal
Community Meeting: Community Meeting have been conducted with locals, women’s group, returnees and those aspiring to do so along with ward officials. These meetings were primarily a shared platform for locals to bring their problems to a wider audience. In the last three months, Community Frontline Associated (CFAs) have conducted approximately 27 meetings which have been attended by about 1000 locals. The main objective these meetings are to connect locals to concerned ward officials and make them aware about the policies/ provisions introduced by the government.
Mini Meeting: We also recently began to focus on smaller weekly for 10 - 13 individuals meetings. We learnt that smaller meetings allow us to focus on individual issues, closer to the real problem, and provide a comfortable space for people (who were not used to speaking in front of large sudiences). These meetings are largely focused on returnees, youths, migrant worker’s families. We have seen that many women and people from marginalized community have felt hesitant to speak freely about their problems in larger groups. Mini meetings have allowed Citizen helpdesks team to build a deeper trust and relationships with migrants workers and their families and relatives. This has allowed us to take up more authentic voices to the local bodies and other important stakeholder organizations to address it.
Bulletins: CHD team publishes monthly bulletins which include stories about specific successful or challenging areas. The bulletins are distributed to 1000s stakeholders. CFAs recite the information in the bulletins to the community people.
Meetings with group consisting local bodies and ward officials: CFAs have formed groups in their respective localities to bridge the distance between local bodies and communities problems raised by those affected by the earthquake. Through such meetings, local bodies have been known to solve problems of individuals caused mainly due to lack of instructions to effectively following procedures.
Overall, the helpdesks have supported thousands of people have received access to services and been provided knowledge around their rights post the earthquake. We are grateful for all of you that have supported this project over the years and proud that we have reached our goals.
By Narayan Adhikari | Country Representative, Nepal
Update on activities
Eight issues of the Citizen Help Desk Bulletin on different migration and reconstruction issues have been published.
Open Migration Perception Survey was conducted in April with 400 respondents. We carried out a survey around migration accountability in four of the most earthquake-affected districts of Nepal over the past three months. From the survey, we discovered that many of the worst problems related to migration stem from a lack of information about the process, weak policies to hold labor agencies accountable and limited government capacity to respond to migration related challenges. The second phase of Survey started in September.
Community meetings - Nineteen community meetings focused on reconstruction and migration issues have been conducted in Four different districts.
Mini Meetings - Twenty-eight mini meetings were conducted with groups of 8-9 local people focused on migration issues.
Group Formed - Six groups were formed in various communities by community frontline associates. The groups are set up to raise awareness on migrations issues and mobilize different groups like returnees, migrant workers family member, aspiring and youth from the same community from the same community.
Stakeholder meetings – formed a group of Migration Stake Holders. Quarterly meetings are conducted with them to bring together the organizations working on the similar issues to reach the collective quality results on migration.
Created a Resolution Channel around migration issues - To solve the migration related cases we have developed issues resolution channel around the migration stakeholders. According to the services they provide and strengths, we refer the cases to different organizations to effectively and efficiently mitigate the issues.
Radio Programs - To raise awareness on migration issues to a larger audience we have mobilized eight Community FM Radio from 4 different districts. They produce fortnightly radio program named- Sabal Samudaya (translated as “Strong Community” in English). The program uses a magazine format, which includes policy level topics and community level migrations issues and also includes community voices. To cover the migration policy and current issues, we also produced a 10 minutes program which we provided to our partner community FM radio stations.
In total, we have produced and broadcast 12 radio programs that have reached more than 500,000.
Beneficiaries - From April to August we have reached out to more than 2200 local people directly. Through the Community Meetings, we have reached more than 1,000 local people. Through the mini meetings we have directly reached more than 300 local people and through the door-to-door visits, we have reached around 900 local people.
Rajesh Tamang from Kavre worked in Malaysia for about 8 months when the company unexpectedly made him redundant and left him unemployed. Moreover, the company refused to pay him for the 8 months’ work, as a result, it was impossible for him to return to Nepal. His family was unable to repatriate him. Fortunately, this case was passed to one of the Community Help Desks CFAs, who also happened to be a returnee himself. The case was then passed to CMIR, an organization that works for the rights of the migrant workers and their families. CMIR was able to bring Rajesh back to Nepal within a week.
Brijlal was just 23 when he went to Saudi Arabia o earn money for his wife and son who he had left behind at home. He worked in juice factory but was tragically found dead in his home in July with no way for his family to repatriate his body to Nepal. His brother in law brought the case to one of the frontline associates of Citizen HelpDesks, who gathered the necessary documents on Brijlal and his family members which were then forwarded to the Centre for Migration and International Relations (CMIR) who work on defending the rights of immigrant workers and their family's. On the 1st of August 2017 Brijlal body was returned to Nepal. The casket was carried to Kavre through a free ambulance service of Foreign Employment Promotion Board. A month later SMIR facilitated financial support for Brijlal’s wife from the Promotion Board as well as further compensation from an insurance company.
“Those who have finished building their houses are entitled to Rs 100,000. However, rumours are that only those houses that have installed bio-gas and solar systems will get this total grant. Otherwise, they will get only Rs 75,000. ”
This is just one of the many questions circulating amongst earthquake victims still rebuilding, and one featured in our monthly Citizen Helpdesk Bulletin. Next month, a group of concerned citizens will gather in the village of Sidhalek in Dhading District to discuss questions like these and other challenges faced without reliable access to information. Their new club is the product of one of our recent focus group meetings held by Community Frontline Associate (CFA) Shankar.
And this isn’t the only club of its kind. Across the four districts within which Citizen Helpdesk works, communities have begun forming clubs to address lingering issues of earthquake reconstruction and foreign labor migration. Our model closes feedback loops by using CFAs to bring accurate information and relevant stakeholders directly to the communities in need, as well as relaying their concerns and issues to those who can address them. Currently, our CFAs are handling 43 active cases of households with specific, pressing needs. They’ve already resolved 5 of these cases by bringing in partner organizations. Now, with villages mobilizing their own citizens to keep track of these concerns the feedback loop can be closed even more effectively.
To improve upon the quality of information that earthquake-affected communities received, our CFAs consistently distribute monthly Citizen Helpdesk Bulletins featuring real questions from affected citizens. In addition to the bulletins, the last two months have seen us distributing surveys to gauge the ways people are affected and in what numbers. Some of this information may find its way into our bulletin while some will be distributed in a new radio show currently in the works. As we address the ongoing issues of earthquake reconstruction and recurrent issues of foreign labor migration Citizen Helpdesk, our communities and stakeholders are finding new channels of communication that leave us hopeful for the future. With continued support from our amazing donors we truly can build back Nepal better. Next Wednesday, July 12th we have a special opportunity to receive a 150% match to any new recurring donations (or 100% match to one-time donations) to our campaign - please help us spread the word!
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