Oxfam sees peace agreement as a ray of hope for the poor in Nepal
International aid agency Oxfam welcomed the Nepalese historic peace agreement between the ruling seven-party alliance and the Maoists rebels and said this significant step heralds hope for the poor.
“Overcoming poverty is dependent upon peace,” said Mr Timothy Claydon, Oxfam’s Country Program Manager. “This is a historic agreement and if it is properly and fully implemented it will create a democratic and inclusive Nepal. It brings with it an assurance that the leaders in the process will respect everyone’s social, economic and human rights and are willing to work towards equitable solutions.”
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia and the decade long conflict has meant slowing of economic growth down to just two per cent, a high 2-digit inflation and ineffective or non-functional public services. UNDP’s latest Human Development Report 2006 ranks Nepal at 138, the lowest in South Asia. It has slid from 136, the Human Development Index in HDR 2005. The worst sufferers have been the rural poor, especially women, who have been facing shortages of food, rising cost of basic goods and reduced access to health, education, clean water and sanitation.
Oxfam and its partner NGOs have been working in Nepal for over 22 years to help improve public health for the poor, support rural people’s livelihoods and prepare rural communities to withstand natural disasters such as repeated floods and landslides, while ensuring that gender equality is integrated into all these initiatives.
“NGOs & civil society organizations play a vital role in helping the poor lift themselves out of poverty,” said Mr Claydon. “The peace agreement and the interim Constitution paves the way for more space for the people. It should encourage an active civil society as this helps builds trust among the people, which is critical for successful development of Nepal.”