Donors wait for forest ministry reforms to release promised aid

Kathmandu, June 19:

The Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA) and other agencies are yet to resume their assistance, pending the restructuring of the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MOFSC).

Interestingly, the restructuring of the ministry is, in turn, waiting for the restructuring of the state.

In the meantime, the donors are waiting and watching when the nation returns to complete normalcy, so that they could fulfil their promises.

Given the position of major donors like DANIDA, the foreign aid in forestry sector may not come by until the reforms are pushed through DANIDA, which was funding forestry projects in 38 districts, had refused to sign a second phase of assistance following the royal takeover, thus denting a blow to the community forestry movement in the country.

“The issue of restructuring the ministry and departments under it has long been on our agenda. DANIDA has been saying it. But now we are waiting for the restructuring of the state as a whole before we can do our job,” said Jamuna Krishna Tamrakar, Chief, Foreign Assistance Division (FAD) under MOFSC.

He took serious note of the fact that the failure to have DANIDA pledge assistance to second phase of forestry sector programme in 38 districts is a big setback so far. “But we are still figuring out what can be done in the interim. We have a meeting with donors next week. Lets see what comes out of it,” Tamrakar said.

Meanwhile a “localised initiative” to effect restructuring of the ministry which had got underway in February this year was shelved four months down.

Donors had named Jorge Freden, Chief of Swiss Development Cooperation in Nepal, as their coordinator. Tamrakar said a meeting is scheduled next week to assess the mood.

“We had initiated a localised restructuring move. Donors appreciated that but someone stopped it midway,” said Dr Jagdish Chandra Baral who is deputed at Foreign Assistance Division.