A walk on the risky path to fight corruption in Nepal

Ramesh Kumar Sharma is a member of WIN’s International Steering Committee (ISC) since 30th October 2008. He is based in Nepal where he leads several anti-corruption activities and contributes to the WIN network.

Beyond my role as a member of the ISC and collaborating with the other members to support WIN’s central program, I have had the opportunity to closely facilitate the country based program in Nepal. In the initial phase, I focused on advocacy and in encouraging new members to join WIN. Two rounds of stakeholders meetings were held, with some support from TI Senior Advisor and fellow member of the ISC Donal O’leary, and Jalsrot Vikash Sasthan  of the Nepal Water Partnership, an institution linked to WIN programmes in Nepal. They facilitated a WIN scoping study and conducted a piloting of a Citizen Card Report study in the Morang district. WIN is now designing a Nepal Country based integrity program with Helvetas Nepal which will contribute to improving water sector governance here.

Another initative from the World Bank Social Accountability Program was initiated in our organisation three years ago. Consultants were selected to build the capacities of five persons from the Facilitating Committee from Board (FCB). Our main responsibility was to promote a social accountability program from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Fund Development Board. I was also included as part of my role as an already functioning Regional Manager in the FCB team. Within three years we provided Social Accountability trainings to 206 NGOs which were all, at different times, our partners. They learned to use tools like the Citizen Report Card and in-depth auditing processes of water program in relation to contract, stakeholders and output.

Despite all these efforts, the overall scenario Nepal is still precarious; Nepal was ranked 37th corrupt country of the world, as it scored only 27 points out of 100 in the TI Corruption Perception Index Report 2012, making it one of most corrupt countries of the world. This scenario clearly demands to further enhance anti-corruption efforts by bringing some new potential partners. I started to make use of internet based sites for this purpose. It was possible to now interact with many groups in Facebook  and other social media sites, involving them to protest against corruption issues. One such organisation which impressed me with its vision, mission and action, was MACAT Nepal.

MACAT Nepal are focused in anti-corruption; however they also plan movements against crime and terrorism as they view it as a major cause that backs corruption up. Politician patron criminals thus they become able to be violent and put threat on life of common people. This helps them to earn millions by materializing illegal practice and corruption. MACAT don’t offer membership to any who is affiliated to any of the political parties and won’t accept donors money to lunch tailor made programs and instead depend on the public to financially support their program based approach. MACAT organised a protest against the release by state decision of Human Right Report accused 290 renowned criminals through a  24 hours fasting program on December 21 and 22, 2012. MACAT also conducted Street Poem recital on December 8, 2012 and a volunteer training for anti-corruption in 2012. At present they are organising a foot travel march in 23 districts of Nepal due to start on 20th January 2013 during which they plan to show drama on the street, and use songs and music to increase awareness of people on corruption. They will also collect grievances to draw on existing grave scenarios.

I am actively participating in most of their program. One experience was that despite information to all newspapers, radios and TV channels, no one reported on at the site of fasting in December. At that time I prepared a home produced video of the fasting program with a call to support  MACAT’s January District Marching program . Right after uploading this video in the internet, four Nepali nationals from foreign countries sent small amounts to support the program. I am also coordinating limited stay with willing NGOs in 23 districts to facilitate for the activists of the march as one problem is the limited budget for accommodation..

I was supported water WASH program NGOs through distant management, which helps to manage the organisation with anti-corruption activities. I hope to repeat the same model of support to potential organisation in this field. Hopefully this will help to structure a strong network of activists and organisations in Nepal in support of improving non-violence, good governance and anti-corruption in the country.

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