Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Contest for Political Space: A Case Study from Community Development Programme in Nepal

Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Contest for Political Space: A Case Study from Community Development Programme in Nepal

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper presents the findings of a research addressing the question of how the role of political parties affects the implementation of the Income Generation and Community Development Programme (IGCD) conducted under the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) in Nepal. It also shows how different political parties and local government bodies manipulate the given model of community development in order to promote their own political space. The IGCD is a component of mitigation measure of Melamchi Water Supply Project, which aims to bring 170 MLD of water per day for the people of the Kathmandu Valley. In this article, I explore the ways in which political spaces are constructed and negotiated by the project of community development under the competitive multiparty democratic regime in Nepal.

This paper will not discuss the larger issue of the Melamchi Project. It will focus on components of the mitigation measure, i.e. Income Generation and Community Development Programme conducted under the Melamchi Water Supply Project vis-a-vis the role of political parties at the local level. This case study is based on my observations and experiences while I was working for the Social Uplift Programme (SUP) under the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) from 1999-2004. In order to update my data/information I carried out a short fieldwork in May 2006. (2)

Political parties defined and redefined project policies and plans according, to their political interest and gain political benefits through the development projects. Project of community development is one of the sources for expanding "political space" at the rural setting of Nepal. It provides the room for political parties so that their leaders interact and manifest their interest through different mechanisms. Different political parties use different vocabularies to either support or contest the policies or modalities of community development to open up the spaces for themselves. The space can be used for agitation, grievances and benefits because it is the voice and representation of their own political party. Mainstream political parties focus upon the electoral sustainability through the manipulation of the development strategies and policies. Support or opposition of a given development programme is an immediate interest of political parties. The inherent interest of behind is to expand the bases of party in all corners of the village society using the newly constructed space.

Understanding Community Development Project and Political Space

A project of community development is a multifaceted phenomenon which produces intended or unintended, expected or unexpected and visible or invisible impact upon the people (see Ferguson 1994; Pigg 199:2 and Fujikura 2004). It works with different players and perspectives and there are always tensions among the players and perspectives to establish own position in the community using development project (see Mosse 2001). Development project unfolds the spaces for some stakeholders and it always interface with politics. The literatures show that some degree of manipulation and political motives seemed to exist in all types of community development programmes in Nepal and elsewhere. When the political players enter the arena of development project first of all they maintain the partners and alliances to maintain political space and they reduce the opportunities for others (mainly oppositional parties) to participate in the larger project. The partners and alliances may be political or non-political, governmental or nongovernmental; NGOs or grass-roots level organizations. The political parties live in the same space with different or even the opposite of others functions. David Mosse shows that project of development is not a bounded entity formed around consensual goals and ideas, but a political system in which different perspectives contend for influence and authority (Mosse 2001: 159-160). …

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