Catalytic Support on Land Issues

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Context

A decade-long conflict in Nepal ended in November 2006 with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Maoists and the Government of Nepal. Despite the political and democratic progress since the end of the conflict, Nepal continues to face multiple land issues. Land issues have existed for centuries and are deeply entrenched in the Nepalese society and linked to the structures of feudal land ownership and informal land tenure. Land issues are recognized as one of the root causes of the 10-year conflict.  If left unaddressed, these issues could have adverse effects on the peace consolidation, political stabilization and socio-economic development of Nepal.

Land and land disputes remain a significant challenge for the country. Pervasive poverty, poor land records and land management systems, lack of awareness regarding land rights, insufficient institutional capacity, dual ownership and a lack of political commitment to resolve the problem are contributing to the issues related to landlessness. The spread of land seizure during the conflict period further complicated the complex land issues of the country.  Exploitation of the landless tillers by land owners, a feudal system of land tenure, and a lack of political commitment and stability are the major factors which have contributed to a disruption of social cohesion within Nepalese society. Similarly, lack of automation of necessary land related data and a robust land information system, and knowledge on who has what rights to land and property in the districts, as well as the lack of institutional capacities has exacerbated the problem of land rights and access in Nepal. The weak institutional capacities in the districts, inability of existing mechanisms to deal with land disputes in a systematic and transparent manner and complex legal framework with more than 60 laws and policies on land, land rights and land use which are often repetitive and contradictory add to the already complex issues surrounding land reform in Nepal.

The issues related to the land regulatory framework, administration, distribution and unresolved disputes must be gradually resolved in order to move Nepal’s transition towards peace. This includes the need for land reform, which is also reflected in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and subsequent political agreements. The Interim Constitution aims to end the ‘feudal landownership’ system and places redistributive land reform as a priority in the government agenda. The Government of Nepal is in the process of preparing a land reform implementation plan based on the recommendations provided by the latest two high level land reform commissions. However, progress is still lacking in this area due to the political sensitivities associated with certain aspects of the issues involved. At the same time, any attempt to move Nepal’s peace process forward without addressing land issues in a comprehensive manner is likely to fail as the-se issues have been a major cause and driver of conflict. This indicates the need to begin discussing land issues simultaneously at the national and local level in order to also take into account expectations and views of the affected communities, in particular of vulnerable groups and women. This project aims to unpack land issues in small steps that are not particularly contentious and ultimately lead to a holistic and meaningful future land reform.

Recognizing the importance of addressing land issues in Nepal for sustainable peace and in accordance with the priori-ties mentioned in the interim constitution and the CPA, IOM, UNDP and UN-Habitat, as participating UN organizations (PUNOs), have come together with their technical expertise to address the highly sensitive land issues with impartiality and neutrality. The neutrality of the organizations founded in their respective mandates, makes them the suitable actors in this matter.

Planned Intervention

The Catalytic Support on Land Issues Project is a two years project starting 15 March 2013, and financed by the UN Peace-building Fund, a global UN multi-donor trust fund supported by over 50 international donors and managed through the UN Peace Fund for Nepal. The PUNOs will work together with the concerned ministries of Government of Nepal and other stakeholders to achieve the following outcomes:

[1] Develop a draft of a national implementation plan for land reform

[2] District, Village Development Committee and Municipality Level Land Use Implementation Committees collect and analyze land-related data and prepare land use plan of prioritized areas in the three selected districts

[3] Prepare a draft unified land regulatory framework

[4] Assess and enhance land information systems in the three selected districts

[5] Improve the resolution of land issues in the three target districts

While UNDP will be working on Outcome 1, and IOM on Outcomes 3, 4 and 5; UN-Habitat will be concentrated on Outcome 2. In order to achieve the desired results for Outcome 2, the following 9 project outputs have been foreseen:

2.1 Enhanced understanding of international best practices in land use planning and implementation

2.2 Identification of pilot (prioritized) areas in the three project districts Surkhet, Nawal Parasi and Morang

2.3 Gap analysis and assessment of existing maps, reports and other land related data produced, shared and agreed to

2.4 Implementation Plan for the capacity development of government partners and other stakeholders based on capacity assessment developed and initiated

2.5 Capacity of staff members of central and district/ local level stakeholders for preparation and implementation of land use planning enhanced

2.6 Draft comprehensive legal framework for land use planning completed and disseminated

2.7 Preparation of national/ district/ VDC (Local) level Land Use Plan for prioritized areas within the framework of Land Used Policy

2.8 Implementation of Land Use Plan for prioritized areas

2.9 Land Use Planning and Implementation Guidelines developed on the basis of lessons learned and disseminated for replicating beyond the project areas

For further details contact:

Project Coordinator, Catalytic Support on Land Issues Project

UN-HABITAT, P.O. Box 107, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Nepal; Tel: +977 1 5542816, Fax: +977 1 5539877

www.unhabitat.org.np

 IOM Nepal Catalytic Support on Land Issues Project Team

768/12, Thirbam Sadak, Baluwatar-5, P.O. Box 25503, Kathmandu, Nepal; Tel: +977 1 4426250

Websites:  http://www.nepal.iom.int | facebook.com/iom.oim.nepal | twitter.com/IOM_Nepal

http://mptf.undp.org/factsheet/project/00085965 | http://un.org.np/coordinationmechanism/unpfn

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