It is early in the morning. The clock has just struck seven and the office of ward number one and two of Suddodhan Rural Municipality in Rupandehi District is already open. This is not the usual time we expect the government offices to open.
After almost 20 years, local elections have been held in Nepal and the Nepali people have finally found their locally elected representatives. These local representatives have huge commitments and responsibilities for local level development. Today, ward chair Bishnu Prasad Bashyal arrived in his office at 7 am to attend the review meeting of Child-Friendly Local Governance (CFLG) in presence of child club representatives, teachers, health post representatives and local leaders.
"Development is not possible without the participation of children. We are close to meeting the target and we are committed to establish our locality as an example of child-friendly ward," says Bishnu.
CFLG is national initiative lead by Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development in Nepal. Government of Nepal had endorsed national strategy on CFLG back in 2011. The strategy defines CFLG as the governance system that best institutionalizes the responsibility of the State concerning child rights issues, particularly the right to survival, development, and protection, and the right to meaningful participation in policy formulation, planning processes, and in decision making bodies at local level. Pragatinagar was declared as first child friendly Village Development Committee in Nepal in 2013. Till date, the total number of local bodies declared as child friendly is below 20. Though the momentum is increasing but the pace is slow.
Nepal has just received new local governance structure and in line with this political change, the CFLG related policies are yet to be changed. Beside this, the monitoring and evaluation of indicator level progress has become challenging since the geographical territory has also changed. The former Village Development Committee is almost equivalent to one ward of municipality. Despite political challenge, the management and coordination level challenge is also there. Proper documentation of the status of CFLG at local level is not well maintained. The local level implementation is not effective as expected. The budget allocated for children is not effectively and efficiently managed by local bodies.
Unless and until the stakeholders are sensitized and united together to mainstream children's agenda as local development agenda, change is not possible. Hence, World Vision has been supporting all districts and local CFLG committees to promote CFLG in its working areas. World Vision along with partner NGOs, government stakeholders, civil society organisations, media and child clubs is providing financial and technical support to district and local level CFLG committees to make progress on CFLG indicators and for declaration of child-friendly status. At least one ward in each working area of World Vision in 10 districts are progressively heading towards CFLG declaration.
As a part of this support, the CFLG committee meeting of ward number two is going on at office of ward number one and two of Suddodhan Rural Municipality. They are reviewing their progress. All stakeholders along with the ward chair is committed to declare ward number two as child-friendly. They are hoping to present their ward as model child-friendly ward.
Speaking at the meeting, Nagendra, President of child club network, says, "Earlier, there was no space for us children to share our ideas and but now, I am happy that I can freely express my agenda and the committee members respect it. Thank you World Vision for supporting the formation of this CFLG committee. We are hopeful we can declare our ward as child-friendly in near future.”
Written by Sunil Hakaju Shrestha, Advocacy Specialist at World Vision International Nepal