Donors’ meetings on to fix policy on Nepal

Rekha Shrestha

Kathmandu, February 22:

Nepal’s donors have been holding frequent meetings since the February 1 royal move to decide their strategy on development projects in the changed political scenario. Meanwhile, chiefs of most of the donor agencies, including the UNDP resident coordinator, met today at the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) office at Ekantakuna.

“Donors are holding frequent meetings to address the new political scenario,” said Pauli Mustonen, Charge d’affairs at the Finnish Embassy. He added the donors’ are now focussing on implementation of programmes so as to deliver the benefits to the people at the grassroots level. A number of projects implemented by various donor agencies, including SDC, have already been suspended due to Maoist conflict. “Our main activities have been suspended due to insecurity and uncertainty,” Jorg Frieden, SDC country director is quoted as saying. “No roads or bridges are being built, and there is no access to forest users’ groups. It is due to the lack of clarity about the application of the state of emergency in the rural areas where the Maoists are strong.”

A few months back, Maoists had held three SDC officials captive for two days while they were on the way to its project sites in the districts of Doti and Bajhang for visiting the project sites without informing the Maoists. “Now the project officials are told to inform the Maoists to enter any place in the districts,” said an SDC official.

According to him, the rebels were demanding SDC to contribute financially or register with them, “which goes against any donor’s principle.” Donors say their projects have also been adversely affected due to the curtailing of free flow of information since February 1. “We are not receiving information from project areas on time, which is creating problems in deciding on policy matters too,” said a diplomat on condition of anonymity. He warned it would be difficult for donors to continue projects if the conflict goes unabated.

“The King opted for a military solution and we don’t see the Maoists remaining quiet as well,” Frieden said.