If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I frequently utilise the titles of favourite songs of mine. Tomorrow may indeed be a long time for Nepal. On 15 January UNMIN (United Nation Mission In Nepal) left Nepal ,leaving a number of unresolved issues. The key one is the integration of the Maoist forces into the Nepal Army. The Peace Process still holds,and I’ve got used to reading statements in the press from all parties which appear little more than posturing.
Karin Landgren’s summing up of UNMINs time in Nepal can be found here , but this extract probably will suffice. Its a bit long, but provides a context..
The historic 12-point agreement which the warring parties signed in 2005 committed them to establishing absolute democracy in Nepal, but completing the course and managing the process have now become acutely challenging. Deep divisions have emerged over its direction and the sequencing of steps, especially in respect of the future of Maoist army personnel and the promulgation of the new constitution. While Nepal’s dramatic political gains are not likely to be reversed, the risks have clearly grown. There have at times been fears among many Nepalis over the prospect of a ‘peoples’ revolt? which remains an explicit Maoist threat; of the President stepping in, as recently called for by the Vice-President should the parties fail to find a way forward; or of an army-backed coup. Any such measures would sorely threaten peace and Nepal’s fragile democracy.
Adopting the new constitution should close the door firmly on any undemocratic governance alternatives, of which the UN has also repeatedly warned. Parties on both the left and the right will need to show patience and remain faithful to the core documents of the peace process. The traditional parties need to demonstrate that their intention was not simply to marginalise the Maoists through day-to-day politics, while the Maoists must demonstrate unambiguously that they intend to abide by democratic politics.
This peace process can be brought to a close in two ways: satisfactorily, through the negotiated resolution of outstanding issues, or abortively, with one or more parties reneging on their solemn commitments. Setbacks and challenges are inevitable but it is in the interest of the country, the region and the international community as a whole that the peace process be maintained, respected, and steered to a proper close. UNMIN has continued to encourage dignified negotiated solutions, which require a moderation of positions on all sides. The parties can build on the dialogue that has been their longstanding strength; shun the demonising of one another, and sidestep the broad array of spoilers. At this moment, we encourage them to come to rapid agreement on the future of the monitoring of arms and armies.
The saga of the non-appointment of a prime minister may be drawing to an end and the governance of Nepal may yet get concluded in the coming year. Even as I write, different newspapers offer alternative analyses of the current ‘state of the nation’, and there does appear to be a positive note running through some of what is being written. However, in the nine months I’ve been here, I’ve learned that things can change with incredible rapidity…or perhaps slightly more accurately, things don’t change at all! We’ll see…
The start of this week brought the exciting news that everywhere in the country will now be without power for 84 hours per week, or as the mathematicians amongst you will have worked out, 12 hours per day without electricity! I’ve talked about load shedding before, so click here if you want to read about what load shedding is. There is a timetable announced,(again see here if interested), so it is in theory possible to effect some degree of planning. (The twin umbilical cords of laptop and i-pod remain connected, provided I remember to keep the batteries charged…). However, once again lets put this into context. A significant percentage of the rural population of Nepal doesn’t have access to the national grid, so the impact of load shedding simply passes them by….
The beginning of the new year has seen some change in my work too. Navadeep Jyoti Kendra has not managed to secure any further funding since its contract with Family Health International came to an end in September of last year. Sakriya Plus Nepal is now the only organisation delivering the Positive Prevention Programme within the Kavre District, (albeit that this funding stream comes to an end in June of this year). All is not lost however, as the boards of the two organisations have merged. A significant percentage of both boards are themselves PLHAs, and this merger will hopefully ensure that services will continue after June. (As a footnote, I’m currently talking with VSO about what my weekly working pattern will look like).
In addition to working in the area of HIV, VSO works in schools across Nepal. The quarterly Education Newsletter which I received earlier this week contains the following paragraph from one of the teachers volunteering in Kaski, who was reflecting on the fact that …
“…because of migration to private schools…the children left in the government schools are nearly all from extremely poor and marginalised families…
For much of their time in school these children are passive and unresponsive, or distracted and unable to pay attention…
(And why?)…because they are hungry. One head teacher estimated that 40% of children in his school are undernourished.
The food they bring to school-if they bring any-is poor quality ‘filler’ food with little nutritional value.
However great our efforts, and however well teachers respond in terms of increasing the quality of teaching, if children are hungry and undernourished their learning is not going to reach its potential”
And so begins another year…
I tend to shy away from too much ‘opinion’ here, not because I don’t have an opinion, (as those of you who know me well can attest!!), but largely because what I want to do is simply to offer my perspective on what’s going on here. Sometimes its ‘good’, sometimes less so.
Consequently I want to end this entry with a link to a small UK based organisation called Classrooms In The Clouds. In one of those strange, elliptical pathways that we sometimes journey along, I found out about this organisation via a photography website that I contribute to.
Check it out, and if what you see moves you to contribute in some small way, then its been worthwhile adding it to the end of this post.
And to round things off a link to the song and the singer. (Best I could find, sorry!!)