No clear policy on funds for urban poor

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, December 31

The National Urban Poor Support Fund (NUPSF) is now waiting for the government to set up a legal system so that it can start working for the benefit of the urban poor.

Lumanti Support Group (LSG) for Shelter helped in setting up the fund of Rs 20.6 million, with contribution of Rs 1 million from Slum Dwellers International, Bombay and Rs 1 million from Kathmandu Metropolitan City on October 4. This includes Rs 6,00,000 from Water Aid and Rs 2,00,000 from Lumanti. Despite the setting up of the fund, it has not been utilised due to lack of clear policy. "Since the legal system does not allow us to run a programme at the national level, we should wait for an ordinance to enable us to begin operations. Or else, we may find another way to support the urban poor," said Lajana Manandhar, the executive director of LSG .

A National Urban Poor Support Fund Ad-hoc Committee was set up to help the formation of the committee for the fund, chaired by KMC Mayor Keshav Sthapit. She said that a National Steering Committee will be formed for NUPSF which will have its own National Fund Management Committee. Through a National Facilitation Centre, the money will be dispatched for squatters and other urban poor communities with supporting funds from the respective municipalities.

"This is going to be a unique project. We have the money but we are not going to handle it. Rather we will form small-scale communities and mobilise them for their own betterment. The poor will prioritise, choose, mange, and handle the projects," she said. She further said that the fund will only provide soft loans to the poor.

Meanwhile, a pilot project is being launched in Kathmandu soon. "We are going to do something concrete for Kathmandu as it is a city facing acute problem of the urban poor and the municipal organisations and the concerned community are ready to work in this regard," she added.