Govt rejects UNOPS’ Asia regional office proposal

Kathmandu July 7

The government has rejected a proposal from the United Nations Office for Project Services for establishing its Asia regional office in Nepal.

The refusal comes on the heels of its decision to close the Kathmandu Office of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

The UNOPS headquarters had wanted to transfer its Asia regional office from Bangkok to Kathmandu, but the government did not give permission.

UNOPS has been working in Nepal in coordination with the Government of Nepal and India after a devastating   earthquake struck Nepal in 2015.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, however, told The Himalayan Times that the UNOPS did not exist in Nepal. He did not acknowledge UNOPS’ work in Nepal. According to sources, even after the government refused to allow UNOPS to open its office in Nepal, the UN body kept trying to convince Nepali authorities but failed to woo them. UNOPS Under-secretary General Grete Faremo wanted to visit Nepal to convince government authorities regarding establishment of UNOPS Asia regional office in Nepal. Sources said UNOPS has not stopped efforts to persuade the government to review its decision.

UNOPS has been reconstructing 50,000 houses in Nuwakot and Gorkha in coordination with Nepali and Indian governments. “UNOPS has been providing technical support and Indian government has been providing financial support in these districts,” said Chief Executive Officer of National Reconstruction Authority Yubraj Bhusal.

United Nations Development Programme and UNOPS on March 8 signed a partnership agreement to expedite post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal.

“UNOPS has been assisting post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal,” Bhusal said and added that UNOPS had set up field offices in Nuwakot and Gorkha to implement the project.

Under the agreement, India will provide US$ 16.2 million grant to the two UN agencies (US$8.79 million to UNDP and US$ 7.41 million to UNOPS) to support  reconstruction of 50,000 houses in Gorkha and Nuwakot, according to UNOPS statement posted on its website.

According to UNOPS document, the UN body aims to provide socio-technical assistance to individual households, develop innovative approaches to retrofitting earthquake-damaged homes and provide services to the most vulnerable households.

Department for International Development-UK, United States Agency for International Development and World vision International are key partners of the UNOPS in Nepal.

UNOPS also states that its team in Kathmandu is further supporting government efforts to reform the security sector.

The UNOPS supports Nepal’s innovation agenda, creating new opportunities and jobs for people of Nepal. After the 2015 earthquakes, UNOPS was engaged in activities supporting the government in assessing damaged buildings and enrolling beneficiaries for housing grant schemes.

UNOPS was separated from UNDP in 1995 and became an independent, self-financing organisation. Its efforts have been to share expertise in infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management and human resources. The executive director of UNOPS reports directly to the UN secretary-general and the executive board and can sign host country agreements and appoint UNOPS representatives in the field.

UNOPS follows the policy guidance of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Charter.