Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

3:02 AM

Fighting Poverty and Traficking...Getting Involved

In Nepal, trafficking has become a highly profitable business.  Not surprising. With almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line, Nepal and other countries with impoverished population are vulnerable to trafficking. Victims of trafficking often come from the very poorest regions of Nepal. Without education or opportunity, they often live with their families on the poorest parts of society where food may be scarce or clean water unavailable. Criminal elements thrive and feed on those driven to desperation to survive and hoping to have a better life elsewhere.

Trafficking comes in various forms - forced labor, domestic and factory work, prostitution, slavery. Millions of women and girls have been trafficked within and across borders over the years. According to a 2001 report by Asia Foundation and Horizons Project Population Council report, profits generated in trafficking is so much more than that generated from the arms and narcotics trade.

What Statistics Show

·  Girl trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in Nepal generating an estimated five to seven billion U.S. dollars a year.

·  7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese girls between the ages of 9 and 16 are trafficked against their will every year.

·  5,000 Nepalese women are trafficked into India yearly. As many as 70% of girls in India's brothels are HIV positive.

·  Trafficking thrives on poverty: 55% of people in Nepal live on less than US$1.25 per day.

·  2005 data from case records documented by six rehabilitation centers in Nepal of sex-trafficked women show that most (72.7%) rural girls who are trafficked are Hindu by religion. 59.9% are unmarried. 46.5% are 16-18 yrs of age and 77.2% have no or little education.

·   Most sex-trafficking (59.4%) in Nepal is carried out through “Dalals” or brokers who falsely guarantee good work to girl-children who are willing to travel to other country locations. At times, the some Dalals even pretend to marry girls who come from families with little resources, as they sell them in the brothels.

In a study made, child marriage is accepted Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and is considered the best method to procure girls for prostitution (Indrani Sinha, SANLAAP India, "Paper on Globalization & Human Rights").

The tragedy though, is that most, if not all trafficking victims fall into forced prostitution because of false promises made by someone “familiar” to them. Some are sold by their very own parents or relatives to pay off debts or out of dire poverty, or, to simply get rid of unwanted wives or daughters. They get sold for US$200 to $ commodities. 

The Challenges Ahead

Support and involvement of the community is needed in reintegrating trafficked victims in society. Trafficked survivors are often voiceless and harassed if they choose to speak up. Challenges have to be addressed and the lack or absence of critical enablers to reintegrate them back into the streamline of society slows down progress.

1)  Trafficked victims need medical assistance to help them physically and emotionally get back within the streamline of society but one of the biggest problems is shortage of health care workers.  According to the World Health Organization report released this September 2012, Nepal is among the countries with fewer than 23 health workers (doctors, nurses and midwives) per 10,000 population. This is considered the required minimum health workforce needed to achieve 80% coverage of essential health interventions.

2) Trafficking is oftentimes organized and managed by crime syndicates capable of corrupting law enforcers to turn a blind eye or even go to the extent of threatening or endangering lives of anyone who intervenes in their “trade.”  They can have the political clout to get the protection they need to keep their brothels running.  

3) Those trafficked into prostitution seldom escape their fate once they enter the brothel. The few that do sometimes refuse assistance because they fear society would judge them harshly or because they are never able to overcome the trauma of what they went through. 

4) The “deukis” system where childless families buy girls and are offered to temples as their own then are forced into prostitution continues to be practiced by many families.  In a 1997 UN Special Report on Violence Against Women, it was reported that in 1992, 17,000 girls were given as deukis. 

5) There continues to be a need to change the mindset of people on the low status treatment of the girl-child compared to the boy-child in the family.

6) Most critical is the need for more government support not only in preventing intra and cross-border trafficking in countries like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh but also in coming out with programs to eradicate poverty and bolster education.  

What’s Being Done?

Poverty and lack of education have always been associated with trafficking. Unless these are eradicated, trafficking will remain a problem of the times. Women and children will continue to go missing and undocumented, many never to be heard from again. NGO chairperson Durga Ghimire  of National Network Groups Against Trafficking also confirms the finding  that “low rates of female literacy, coupled with the traditionally low status of the girl-child in Nepal have to be addressed to tackle the problem.”    

Some say that the exploitation of women and children may never end. But the close collaboration among government, NGOs and the community can significantly mitigate its proliferation.  

The growing number of non-government organizations (NGO) has augmented the lack of support from government in addressing the problems on trafficking and poverty.  Maiti Nepal, a 20 yr old rescue organization, based in Kathmandu, is one of the NGOs that manage ongoing rescue of Nepali girls from the brothels of Mumbai.  Friends of Nepal, its sister organization confirms stories of organized criminals controlling trafficking. The NGO explains the risks of rescuing trafficked Nepali citizens in India where members of Maiti Nepal have to travel with bodyguards when conducting rescue missions.

There are several shelters run by various Katmandu-based NGOs working against trafficking and towards rehabilitation of girls who manage to escape or are rescued from Indian brothels. However, the problem of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them back in the streamline of society is complex.  Relatives often don't want them back and Nepal's government is worried about the spread of HIV.

The group Plan Youth (Fighting Against Child Trafficking, Plan Youth) is lobbying and advocating for anti-trafficking and sexual abuse policies to ensure that the government has effective laws. It is working directly with government, police and community groups to create a National Plan of Action against human trafficking.  This includes:

1) helping girls to file legal cases against traffickers and perpetrators. 

2) communities in Nepal forming protection groups – special clubs of girls and community members who work together to guard against the risks of child trafficking. These groups keep an eye out for traffickers and exploitative situations, as well as advocating for girls' rights at a local level. They help to raise awareness and protect girls from violence and trafficking.

3) rehabilitation and reintegration of victims into their families and communities  

4) Promoting  gender equality and empowering women Nyaya Health is also working to expand its outreach to “thousands in the rural area.”  It has re-opened the Byalpata Hospital in the Achham District in Western Nepal. Training of over 100  rural community health workers is also in its action plans. Over 101,000 people in the region  have so far accessed free health care since 2008 as part of  Nyaya Health’s endeavour.

Initiative Nepal also focuses on youth awareness and action plans to encourage youth involvement in the community. Through Initiative Nepal’s social forums, awareness initiatives undertaken by various groups to address social issues like trafficking are brought to fore.

The youth can get involved and align themselves with NGOs like Plan Youth, Nayata Health or other growing number of NGOs and take responsibility in giving a voice to the voiceless, helping protect and empowering those who need to be educated and saved from the dark holes of poverty and trafficking.

Getting involved can make a difference to the lives of many voiceless victims.
  • ·   Start small...volunteer.
  • ·   Make others aware of the community’s social problems, write/blog about it  
  • ·   Help NGOs in their awareness or reintegration programs
  • ·   Call on government to take stronger action by asking them  to:
      • o   provide access to education
      • o   address corruption in government
      • o   strengthen border security to prevent trafficking
      • o   organize and take the lead in awareness programs to prevent trafficking

  • Alone we may not be able to do much but TOGETHER, people will stop and listen.


8:31 PM

The Youth Are The Future

My last article centered on the importance of the constitution and the process of its construction, touching on the significance of the importance of youth involvement in these ventures. This article shall further discuss the significance and importance of youth involvement in social development as well as the process of communal development and the importance of representivity and collaboration.

The development of community is a dynamic process which should involve all members of the locality, including the often-overlooked youth population. The key component to this process is the creation and maintenance of channels of interaction and communication amongst the diverse local groups. By facilitating interaction and developing relationships, these diverse individuals interact and begin to mutually understand common needs. When relationships, consistent interaction, and channels of communication can be established and maintained, increases in local adaptive capacities materialize and community can emerge. It is important that the youth are not excluded from this dynamic process. Community exists in the collective actions of its members. These collective actions allow residents of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the creation, articulation, and implementation of efforts to support local change. While much of the attention given to building local capacities is often focused toward adults, youth are an increasingly visible and active component in community development efforts. Such involvement contributes to both the development of community and the social and psychological development of the youth involved. 

The future lies within the youth, through active engagement, youth can take on ownership and become lifelong contributors to local well-being. Young people have to realize that they have a right to express their views concerning community events. As youth are brought into community organizations and civic roles that they have traditionally been excluded from, they can participate in local decision-making at multiple levels. This collaboration leads to skill enhancement, confidence building, and ownership that prepare them as they navigate toward adulthood and into positions of leadership within their communities.  

12:48 PM

To Young People...

12th September, 2012

To Young People... 

People, older generations, and younger ones as well are in desperate need for inspiration. For that small magical moment that makes us believe our reality, our dull and ordinary surroundings are much more than they seem. Re-igniting the spark to move us into action and make us affect positive change in our communities doesn’t have to come from  the government, or the politicians, or community leaders - it should come from deep within. From the need to prove that there is much more to our world than war, poverty, violence and crisis. From the need to prove that when it comes to making good things happen, age shouldn’t matter. From the need to prove that being young is not a sin, it’s in fact a blessing. Kicking a ball with a few kids in the shelter doesn’t cost money, nor need a politician. Cleaning up the neighborhood needs nothing but a trash bag. Friendly chatter with someone who’s different from you - someone that doesn’t share your belief system, or religion, or skin color- is FREE! We, as young people, cannot expect change to happen on its own, nor trickle down to us from the top, nor have it decreed by a government. Change, real change, happens on the grass root level and then carried to the top on the backs of the people that planted it!

We are young,naive, and inexperienced. What have got to lose? Nothing, but have everything to gain! to learn from our experiences - which won’t happen if we continue to whine and complain about a government, or a politician. We will get the expereince and lessons we need to learn from putting ourselves in our communities and start there. Grab a hammer and fix a fence, paint a rusty gate, read or mentor a few kids. Create a bond in your own local community that you can later expand on. Start small is what I’m saying. seriously, what have you got to lose? 

Think about it - All the best, 

Young Person X
2:35 AM

Practical steps to addressing disaster management in Nepal

Rivers of snowmelt and waterfalls are exploited for their hydroelectric potential and irrigation purposes; forests are razed to make way for agricultural land and rapid urbanisation. Deforestation in Nepal is widespread and one of the major environmental problems afflicting the country, leading to soil erosion in the hillsides, water scarcity from frequent run-offs and mass flooding. 

A number of NGOs have been working to prevent the phenomenon. The UK charity organisation, Practical Action have developed a range of projects in Nepal that not only work towards implementing climate adaptation and mitigation policies, but have also managed to morph them into income generating projects.The NGO has a unique approach to development, empowering locals with simple tools, technology and training and controlling it for themselves.

In the Nawalparasi District, flooding and land erosion have had severe impacts on the resident Bote community, particularly affecting agriculture as the paddy is destroyed by floods and the land is becoming increasingly non arable owing to soil degradation. Practical Action in partnership with its local implementing partner - SAHAMATI started implementing a Disaster Risk Management project in 2007 along the settlements of Baulaha River[1]. In 2008 winter, communities, project staff and concerned stakeholders agreed to construct a 1.8 km long embankment along both banks of the Baulaha River. The new embankment has helped protect 40 hectares of arable land and encouraged farmers to transplant their crop. They were also given training on different ways to grow vegetables, enabling them to diversify their crops.

The organisation also works to boost local awareness around disaster preparedness and management through the implementation of an early warning system. These systems are designed to be managed by local communities and are thus sustainable and long term. Practical Action puts emphasis on empowering communities and has rigid rules around communities making their contributions in order to work with Practical Action. They are a stickler for transparency and ensures that everyone in the community is aware of any decisions made. Once again, the organisation has made the use of a simple tool, a community noticeboard, whereby, meeting minutes, planned activities, etc. are shared. This sort of community involvement is favoured by the locals as it’s easily accessible and understandable.

[1]Building embankment boosts farming. (2012). Retrieved from

Samai Haider

7:41 AM

Economies of scale !

Imagine wealth in liquid form. The poor have droplets of it, while the rich have lakes !
However, just as all the water goes to the ocean; all the wealth goes into the world's wealth-ocean.

Those who stay by its shores and tap it, get richer ! Afterall, one's financial position depends upon his relative performance with respect to others.

Smart people realize this earlier and literally make hay while the sun shines.  Did you know that an average rural Money lender collects 115% interest per annum ? Why ? Because the poor cannot outperform him !
They lack access to credit facilities and never bothered to prove their credit-worthiness. They have resigned themselves to a life of high debt.

Do you know why it costs the kirana shop keeper 15 rupees to purchase bread, while it costs 9 to the wholesaler ? Because, he has a wider network to tap into. His performance relative to the kirana owner is better, thanks to his sources. Whom you know is important, afterall.

Why all this talk ? To drive into the minds of the Nepalese youth that they need to get up and take charge of things and not wait for some miracle to deliver them a hen that lays golden eggs every day !
What the poor can do is to form associations and borrow money. This will work because there is strength in numbers.  This principle may be applied by young entrepreneurs as well. Registering an association under the NGO act to facilitate credit flow will create miracles.
The Nepalese youth must not ponder about what they lack but must capitalize upon what they have- Internet, beautiful country side and camera. He must take pride in the fact that Nepal is home to 8 of the world's ten tallest peaks and the legendary sherpas are his countrymen.

He must also note that the size of the mountaineering industry is about 11000 crores and is growing. More and more people want to scale mountains. Increased access, better equipments, training facilities and advancement in medical science (emergency services instill confidence, you see !) have made it possible for many to aspire to flutter their national flags atop mountains. Can't we attract a sizable chunk of these adventurers ?
You see, to develop an economy, you need money to flow in. Do you know what the people of a sleepy fishing village in  India do to attract funds into their village ?

They created awareness about tourism all over. Volunteers went door-to-door to educate the country folk about the benefits these visitors would offer them, they requested people to tap into the financial ocean by gearing up for the tourist inflow- Some converted their houses into "Home-stays" while others set up restaurants. A few opened handicrafts and rural artifacts showrooms.  The elders realized that high moral values will be their best marketing mantra and took steps to abolish alcoholism, gambling and other evils that plagued the youth. They encouraged them to ply vehicles to supplement their incomes as well as ferry tourists to and fro.

In a span of 40 years, the village which was once a poverty capital grew into prominence as a commercial headquarters of that state - Without any government support !  200 Crores worth of goods are brought and sold everyday there.
Drawing parallels, I don't see any reason why we cannot gear up to give foreigners a chance to experience a "high life" ! Not many want the luxury of a water closet on a holiday. We must form associations which promote our regions as holiday/recreation/fitness/ leisure/ practice/ nature living/alternate lifestyle destinations.

The path to this is covered with challenging tasks like imparting Elementary English skills to the community (One needs to be understood to do business with others), extensive micro-blogging and social media marketing about one's community to attract tourists and ensuring that their stay is memorable- A satisfied customer is a businessman's best marketer.

The youth need not bother about the 32% of those tourists who want to enjoy comforts  but must focus on the remaining 68% who spend upwards of Rs 1880 crores globally to experience the joy of watching the sun rise over hills, enjoying a cup of tea. There are many people who are suffering from diabetes and Blood pressure. A change in lifestyle will cure their ailments.  We must package ourselves as lifestyle change providers to grab their attention. This will need related medical infrastructure only if acutely sick patients drop by. By limiting ourselves to serve those who are on the borderline of fitness levels, we can work our way !

Companies in India spend about 210 crores on holiday trips for their teams. By combining trekking with nature stay, cool climes and their CSR (Helping the poor initiatives) we can tap into this wealth.

It cannot be done by one person. Needs a concerted effort from the community. To this end, the change initiator must work as a mediator and a moderator.

The proceeds of the association formed and the revenue generated must be carefully spent and re-invested into infrastructure related works, which include Camera, Internet, English speaking courses for people in the community. 

My counsel to the Nepalese youth is to draw up an ambitious Vision 2030 for their communities, share it with their elders, get laughed upon ( be careful not to let yourselves flow in the river of emotions. The entire purpose of the exercise would be to collect feedback from well-wishers on the risk elements to this project)
Once done, we must sit down and address their concerns to build a fool proof plan and present it for appraisal.

Sincere efforts never go waste. A time will come when the critical mass develops around this vision and your ideas see the light of the day !

Good luck. Let's make tourism contribute upwards of 40% to Nepal's GDP. Ambitious, but possible !
2:00 PM

The G-77 and the United Nations

The United Nations is one of the international forums where countries cooperate in order to advance their common goals. For a single country it may be complicated to defend it’s position in a complex negotiation process,  therefore  countries try to establish formal or informal coalitions based on shared interests. One of  the best known coalitions  at  the UN is the G-77 which unites  developing countries.  

The Group of 77 (G-77) was established on 15 June 1964 by seventy-seven developing countries. Today the  G-77 includes   more than 130 member nations in Africa, Asia and South America.  The major objective  of the G-77 is to promote developing nations’ economic interests and increase their negotiating capacities at the UN system.  As the biggest faction at the UN,  the G-77 is a powerful factor in negotiations on important global issues. The group  is able to block talks or reject resolutions if they are against the interests of group’s  members. For example,  at Rio+ 20 conference, the G-77 pushed back many propositions of  the “Green Agenda”  favoring increased spending on environmental-friendly technologies which poorer countries cannot afford.

The so called “North-South” division still remains prominent at the UN.  For the G-77 countries development is a central objective while the world’s most wealthiest  nations tend to outline other purposes like maintaining international peace or creating “green economies”. The G-77 countries are concerned that  global resources should be diverted towards development. However, the part of  the UN budget spent on issues related  to peace and security  substantially  increased  during the last years while  funding for development and implementation of internationally agreed development goals  remained almost the same.  Sometimes political leaders forget that most conflicts and humanitarian crisis have roots in precarious economic and social conditions, therefore poverty and inequality should be tackled  before it is too late.

“Rio +20 must ‘unenvironmentalise’ green issues, says G77 negotiator”,
Irene Martinetti, “UN management reform-the role and perspective of the G77”
2:03 AM

The Quest For Equality: The significance of a constitution

A nation’s constitution is the foundation on which it is built. It legitimises the rights of a nation’s citizens, irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, race or religion. It is a social contract between a people and their government. It guarantees the people’s right to equality and fair treatment. Nepal’s quest towards a more equitable and inclusive constitution has been a difficult one. The new constitution is intended to create, a more representative, secular and democratic government following the civil war and the years of trauma suffered by the Nepalese people at the hands of the Hindu Monarchy. It is intended to unify the people and so create the building blocks towards a better Nepal. This effort, this quest deserves the attention of all its nations citizens due in part to the significance of a constitution to its nation.

Few people truly consider the significance of their nation’s constitution. They fail to realise the rights afforded to them by this contract whether written or unwritten between their government and themselves. Newly developing countries often go through several periods of constitutional drafting due to the pertinence of having an equitable and egalitarian constitution on which a nation can thrive. A citizens rights and the function of their government are imbedded in their constitution.  It lays out the basic structure of the government and stands superior to all the laws framed with the precincts of the country. More importantly, especially in regard to developing countries or nations undergoing political tumult the constitution deals with and establishes limitations on power. Constitutions, fair and just constitutions are essential to restricting the abuse of power by those in top governmental functions.

It is essential that all persons are involved and represented in the developmental processes of their nations constitution, especially minority groups, women and the nation’s youth. These three groups are most often underrepresented in political standings and so are most often marginalised and not afforded the rights they deserve. It is said the youth are the future, and determine the path and future not only of their respective nations but of the world. For this reason it is important that the youth of Nepal are more active in the decisions being made about their lives and their rights as these decisions are what determine their opportunities, and what kind of society and world they will bring their own children into.
10:49 AM

Democracy - 2 Continued...

September 2nd, 2012

To continue on a pervious entry about democracy, I would like to go over what some call “pre-requisites” of a stable democracy.  Pre-existing conditions that along with the support of certain value systems, institutions and democracy’s own internal processes stabilize the political process within a certain country. Political analysts, philosophers and observers are constantly debating these “conditions”, so they are by no means absolute. 

Maintaining a state of peace and security is one of the first conditions laid down to allow for a flourishing democracy. It is impossible to even envision a state where the rule of law is supreme, if it is not safe to walk out of your own house in the morning without the expectation of being attacked by your own neighbor. A Hobbesian state of nature where life is nasty, short and brutish which impends any industry to flourish or trust to be built guarantees that a democratic process is dead before it’s even born. 

Independent, impartial and functioning media outlets are absolutely integral to maintain an open flow of trustworthy information.  Open communication is absolutely vital. It helps build trust. If I trust you, I won’t attack  you and we will be able to have a civil conversation. A dialogue until a consensus is reached. 

Another condition to maintaining a stable democracy is a literate, educated population that is willing to accept democracy as a mode of governance. If the consensus is that a socialist regime, or a monarchy are the ideal form of governance then it shall be so! Granted majority rule might not be always agreeable, but what would happen if a small group took their disagreement a step further and became violent? Chaos. Which is why democracy is not simply majority rule, but also minority acquiescence. 

Combining all the above ensures a flourishing middle class - a group of educated, democracy-loving, free speech protecting, minority-defending bunch of people that would fight tooth and nail to guarantee that democracy will continue to grow. 

12:07 PM

Breaking the Bonds of Slavery

Nepal carpet crisis pushing children into slavery back

With Nepal among the poorest and least-developed countries in the world and almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line, slavery is among the biggest problems it faces today. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many of these children are undocumented and without birth certificates.

Children as young as 6 years old are sold to indentured slavery for $30-$50 by their own family members to pay off debts. International Labor Organization report stated that children are made to work 14-16 hours every day mostly in brick kiln, coal mines, child prostitution, mug house, leather processing industry, coal mine, stone quarrying, match factory, house-hold helper, bonded labor, street children, mine and carpet factory, drug trafficking, transport sector etc. About 1.4 million children are not provided the salary for their work and 1.27 million children are working in worst forms of labor. 1 The victims of Kamalari, estimated to be at 10,000, also continue to be prevalent.  According to United Nations Special Report, the "Deukis" culture where rich men from feudalistic agricultural families with no children, procure young girls from poor rural Nepalese families and take them as mistresses and slave bonded laborers to produce offspring, then later thrown into prostitution has increased to nearly 30,000 in 2007 compared to 17,000 in 1992. The heart-wrenching part of it is that there is not enough support from government to address these problems. In fact, it has been said that even high officials also buy Nepalese girls from the village for $30 a year.

Challenging the Youth to Take Action

The increase of Non-government Organizations (NGO) over the years to help eradicate the problem has contributed in saving many of the victims of bonded slavery. Their presence has put pressure on the government to take action to help prevent slavery and rehabilitate victims. In March 2011, the Nepalese government announced its plan to provide €1.2 million to fund the training and reintegration of liberated girls. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare also approved a bill outlining the government's child-protection policies, which ban the practice of Kamalari.  

The existence and support from these NGOs have emboldened the victims, especially the Kamalari girls and Deukis to stand up and fight back against slavery. It has encouraged many of them to help other victims like them. This also poses a challenge to the youth to get involved and make a difference.  

It takes awareness of the causes and effects of slavery and action plans on how they can be mitigated or eradicated to be able to address the problem. Getting organized and collaborating with NGOs and the government are critical to carrying out preventive measures and rehabilitation of victims. It is just as important to integrate other factors such as education, poverty and culture into initiatives in addressing these issues.  

The challenge is not simple. It takes dedication and determination to make a difference...and it can be done.  

Source:   Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, 2011