A half- day multi-stakeholder dialogue with member of Gandaki Provincial Assembly and CSO leader; was accomplished on 18th January 2019 at Pokhara with the financial support of FHI 360. The major purpose of the event was to sensitize and increase the understanding level of member of legislative assembly of Gandaki Province on issues covering national and international legal slandered of CSO related issues for making CSO friendly enabling environment in the changed political paradigm.
Program Manager, CS:MAP, welcomed the participants and highlighted the objective of the event. The program was chaired by Padma R. Pahari, President, NGO Federation Nepal (NFN), Kaski Chapter, the Chief Guest of the event was Honb’le Netranath Adhikari, Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Gandki Province. MP Prabha Koirala was also a special guest speaker from the Gandaki Provincial Parliament.
The other dignitaries who attended the event included Goma Dhakal, Khadga Ranabhat, Durga P. Khanal, District Coordination Committee, CSO leader Bishnu P. Baral, Badri Pd. Khanal, former president of FNJ Kaski and Ram Prasad Subedi, General Secretary of NFN Kathmandu.
In the beginning, Executive Director of GoGo Foundation Kedar Khadka presented overall aspects of the CSO in changed context highlighting CSO’s enabling environment including registration, renewal and project approval issues to set the tone in the program.
The event offered a massive space for dialogue between provincial parliamentarians and CSO representatives on the present challenges and issues pertinent with civil society organization in the changed federal structure. It emphasized how the state actors are trying to control the civil society to mask its weakness and curtail the voice of the voiceless people.
Several view and opinions were expressed by the participants urging state actors not to shrink the space of CSOs as they are the facilitator of the development of priorities of the government and not a competitor – the allegation which CSO has been accused. Majority of participants argued that CSOs has played a significant role in overall development of the country. Despite that, the CSO has always been looked down upon and often accused of dollar harvesting.
Acknowledging the role played by CSO over the years, the speaker of Gandaki Provincial Assembly, Honb’le Netra Adhikari said that it is very sad that we have not been able to realize the importance of CSO in making the democracy vibrant. CSOs have reached out to the people giving them voice to make government accountable, transparent and more responsive.
However, due to some unethical interest of few CSOs, all CSOs are blamed as labeled as anti-state actors. This is not justifiable. We should not put them under one category, he further added. Likewise, MP Prabha Koirala said that we should not suspect the CSOs and feel that we are overshadowed by them. Due to some malpractices of few CSOs, we should not blame all CSOs. However, there is a need for soul searching for CSO in present political paradigm to erase all allegations.
Meanwhile, Durga P. Khanal, Acting District Coordination Officer, said that CSO must be transparent and accountable. If they abide by all the laws of the state, we do not have any ill intention towards the CSO operating across the country, he further added.
As a closing remark, the chief guest of the event, Netra Adhikari emphasized the role played by CSO in the country. He further added that there are 761 autonomous government units which should also be accountable to people. We all are guided by the constitution and we should adhere to the laws of the constitution of Nepal, 2072. It is concluded that the presence and role of CSO for strengthening democracy, raising the social awareness against the all form of social discrimination and sustainable development of Nepal is inevitable in future.
In the program, fourth edition of the Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI) of 2017 was made public. The report was jointly unveiled by Netra Adhikari, Speaker, Gandaki Province, Prabha Koirala, Member of Parliament Gandaki Province and Kedar Khadka, ED GoGo Foundation aiming to disseminate the CSOSI findings at the wider level. The presentation on the CSOSI 2017 pointing out national and regional context including regional ranking of Nepal among nine South and East Asian nations.