Saferworld established an office in Nepal in 2009. We work on promoting cooperative approaches to community safety, understanding the relationship between gender, peace and security, and supporting key actors in making the security and justice sector and local governance processes more gender responsive, socially inclusive, conflict sensitive, transparent, and accountable. Following the devastating series of earthquakes in 2015, we are also contributing towards inclusive, participatory and conflict-sensitive reconstruction, while continuing our pre-earthquake work.
A cooperative approach to community safety
In partnership with the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN), and other district-level partners, Saferworld works in six districts of Nepal to improve social cohesion and community safety. With USAID funding, we are supporting local people, particularly youth, conflict victims, and vulnerable and marginalised individuals to engage with the police and local authorities to tackle local insecurity concerns together. We are also working with civil society to advocate for more gender responsive, socially inclusive, conflict sensitive, transparent, and accountable security, justice, and local governance provisions. We use the findings from these projects to influence district- and national-level policy and practice.
Researching public perceptions of security
Since 2013 Saferworld has conducted quarterly assessments to better evaluate public perceptions of local governance initiatives, conflict trends, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and social impacts of migration among other topics. Data collection occurred in six districts of the Mid-West and Far West regions of Nepal, the results of which informed the USAID-funded local governance development project implemented by PACT Inc.
Community-based Early Warning/ Early Response
Between 2013 and 2016, Saferworld implemented an EU-funded Capacities for Peace project, which aimed to enhance the early warning and early response capacities of local civil society members across all five of Nepal’s development regions. We worked with five Nepali partners to analyse conflict trends and identify risks stemming from community insecurity, as well as potential response mechanisms. Saferworld and partners continue to feed this quarterly analysis into the Nepal Monitor, a system designed to alert local organisations to human rights and security incidents happening in their area for coordination, information sharing, and advocacy purposes.
Understanding gender and security
Understanding the connections between gender, peace and security is a vital part of effectively tackling violent conflict and insecurity. During 2013 and 2014, Saferworld conducted significant research into different themes surrounding gender and security. Research conducted in Banke and Bara districts highlights the safety issues working women face in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Our report, Women’s insecurities and the workplace in Nepal: A study from Banke and Bara districts, has recommendations for communities, security sector actors, and government, in order that women are able to work in safety. Later in 2014, Saferworld also researched notions of masculinities in eastern Nepal and whether and how they link to violence, particularly SGBV.
We also developed a gender sensitivity resource pack, which supports the capacity building of civil society at district and national levels so they can promote gender-responsive public security.
Additionally, a Saferworld docudrama was released in early 2012 to raise awareness of the positive role women can play in policing. The awareness it generated is helping to improve working conditions for female police officers, change social perceptions towards women working in policing, and encouraging women to report violence to the police.
In 2011 we supported the development of the Nepal National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, which focus on women, peace and security, and continued to support the implementation of the NAP in 2012 by assessing current monitoring and evaluation provisions and how they could be made fit for purpose.
In 2010, Saferworld researched the different concerns and needs of male and female Maoist Army combatants as they returned to civilian life. Based on this research we recommended specific rehabilitation options for women and men, several of which have been adopted by the Nepali government.
These programmes are supported by USAID, the EU, the Danish International Development Agency, and Open Society Foundations.
Nepal is a candidate country to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and, with the promulgation of the new constitution, is a country which will over the coming years face a number of challenges as it seeks to develop a greater degree of openness, transparency and accountability between citizens and all levels of government. Saferworld is working with Nepali civil society within the open government movement as well as traditionally marginalised areas to ensure that the conversations, projects and initiatives that emerge from these developments are conflict sensitive and make as transformative contribution as possible to Nepal’s journey out of violent conflict. We are working with a range of donors in order to develop new and conflict-sensitive approaches to governance programming in Nepal, informed by the insights of peacebuilding theory and practice in Nepal.
Since the signing of the peace agreement in 2006, Nepal has made significant strides towards consolidating peace. It has held two rounds of Constituent Assembly elections peacefully, managed the voluntary retirement of the Maoist ex-combatants, and integrated some of them in the National Army. All these achievements, however, are overshadowed by a prolonged deadlock resulting from the discord between the major political forces in the country.
Contention over state restructuring has polarised these forces and many believe this led to the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly in 2012. Prior to the dissolution, the political discord had sparked identity-based tensions around the country (linked to ethnicity, caste and other issues) including numerous bandhas (strikes) by different groups either opposing or demanding a state based on identity.
Following the dissolution of the First Constituent Assembly, another round of elections was held in November 2013. The results of the elections ushered in a new political configuration and renewed hopes of progress among disillusioned Nepalis. There was widespread expectation that the Second Constituent Assembly would promulgate the constitution. However the political polarisation that led to dissolution during the first round also saw the 22 January 2015 constitution promulgation deadline pass without agreement on the way forward.
In April and May 2015 a series of devastating earthquakes hit the country, with one of the many impacts being a reinvigorated discussion on what the constitution should look like and an accelerated pace on the actual draft. As the date for the promulgation drew closer, several parts of the country erupted in (sometimes deadly) protests in July and August 2015 in response to what the protestors saw as disregard by the political parties to their grievances, dissatisfaction with select constitutional provisions around issues such as citizenship and electoral representation, and their demands around the demarcation of the proposed federal boundaries. Following the promulgation of the constitution – endorsed by nearly ninety percent of the Assembly members – in September 2015, protests intensified, morphing into a blockade of border crossing points with India. The subsequent winter months saw shortages of petrol, diesel, cooking/heating gas, and other key commodities and the development of a strong black market economy. After the start of 2016, political negotiations and shifts in protest plans slowly reopened the border crossings allowing daily life to incrementally normalise.
The current context highlights that the type of projects that Saferworld implements through local partners is important for Nepal’s post-constitution transition. Additionally, policies that are conflict- and gender-sensitive – and owned by all strata of local people – are even more relevant.