What we did: We developed the capacity of local government representatives in Nepal.
What we achieved: Elected local government representatives learned to adopt deliberative decision-making processes that lead to transparency, inclusivity and accountability for all citizens. Women representatives were a major beneficiary.
Who we did it with: The Coherence Programme was undertaken with support from the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration of Nepal and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Impact area: Political Participation and Representation
Project: To support emerging democratic governance and the effectiveness of Nepal’s Provincial and Local Governance Support Programme
Donor: UK’s FCDO
Award period: 17 March 2020 to 28 February 2022
Boundary partners: Subnational governments
With a relatively new federal constitution (2015) that devolves many responsibilities to provinces and municipalities, Nepal’s local elected representatives are keen to take on best-practice methods of governance.
This is particularly the case among groups that have in the past been excluded or ignored, notably women.
‘You should’ve come earlier!’ was a comment frequently made by local government representatives to the mentors of International IDEA’s two-year Nepal Coherence Programme, designed to support deliberative practices in political decision-making through an inclusive, reasoned and collective process.
Women representatives and members of other historically excluded and marginalized groups—some elected through quota systems—were among the main beneficiaries of the programme, which comprised various formal and informal training sessions geared towards building the capacity to govern effectively.
Often viewed as somehow less important than other representatives, marginalized groups were at the heart of the training, which took place in 10 rural municipalities. Diverse methods were undertaken to reach the core audience.
Mentors, for example, sometimes visited representatives’ houses to create a safe space for them to vent their frustrations and challenges. Women in particular have been excluded from Nepal’s otherwise growing democracy, not invited to regular municipal meetings, ignored, or even humiliated for their supposed ‘lack of capacity’.
The ‘home visit’ worked well for Pima Magar, an executive member of Rapti Rural Municipality. ‘I’ve shared with you those things I hadn’t dared share with my husband,’ she said.
This was an example of how International IDEA’s Coherence Programme has gone beyond conventional ‘one-size-fits-all’ training, defining its goal in terms of building governing capacity in a meaningful way, to make better public decisions through political deliberation.
For female representatives, the programme appears to be bearing fruit.
‘They’ve started informing us about the meetings in advance nowadays, thanks to the mentors helping us understand our right,’ said Sushila B. K., a ward member in Bhagawatimai Rural Municipality from a previously excluded Dalit community.
She went further: ‘I used to sign the minutes later even if I wasn’t called in the meetings. Now I tell them I will sign the minutes only if I get to participate in them.’
The Coherence Programme plans to document all these diverse and extensive learnings and integrate them into Nepal’s Provincial and Local Governance Support Programme, which is mandated to provide capacity-strengthening support to all 753 local governments of Nepal.