Farmers in Siraha still accept paddy as daily wages

Published On: January 2, 2023 12:46 PM NPT By: Ruby Rauniyar

In four years, 3,625 marginalized people from Madhesh province got citizenship

BARDIBAS, Jan 1: The system of exchanging daily wages for grain is still prevalent in Madhesh Province. This province is still behind Karnali Province in terms of education. None of the local units have been able to announce a fully literate municipality so far. It is customary for the landlords to provide eight kilograms of paddy as a daily wage to the laborers who work on their fields.

According to the municipality chiefs, the laborers of Kalyanpur and Karjanha municipalities in Siraha district of Madhesh Province work on the basis of daily wages. In a discussion program organized by Aasman Nepal in Bardibas of Mahottari district on December 26, the  municipality chief, administrative officers and other stakeholders of a project said that daily wages are still exchanged through grains in the municipalities of Siraha where there are predominantly Dalits, Muslims and the marginalized people. 

Shyam Kumari Sah, executive director of Mukti Nepal, informed that the price of rice is at most Rs 50 per kg. "If you convert it into currency, it is low for the workers who work from morning to evening," she said, adding, "People of the Musahar community live in these municipalities where they are forced to live a very difficult life.”

The findings are based on the report of the Citizen Empowerment for Inclusive Democracy in Madhesh Province Project, which is in its final stages. The project is being implemented with the financial support of the European Union, and collaboration between Aasman Nepal, Welthungerhilfe, Dalit Concerns Forum Nepal, Environment and Child Development Council and Mukti Nepal. This four-year project was conducted in Rajgadh and Bishnupur Rural Municipality of Saptari district, Ishanath and Boudimai municipalities of Rautahat district and Kalyanpur and Karjanha municipalities of Siraha district.

Nawal Kishor Yadav, executive director of Aasman Nepal, said the four-year project has found that the daily wage has increased from five kilograms to eight kilograms and the workers have been assured of a one-time meal.

"In the past, food was not provided to the workers in this area and they were given only five kilograms of paddy for working in the houses of the elites," Executive Director Yadav said. He added, "Currently, the workers in this area get a daily wage of 8 kgs of paddy and one-time meal."

In the program, Shyam Prasad Ojha, while presenting the learning, experience and future roadmap of the four-year project, said that another main achievement of the project was that citizenship was being provided to the marginalized people under their initiative.

"During the project period, 3,625 marginalized people from Riha, Saptari and Rautahat districts have received citizenship," Ojha said. He added, "Out of which, 141 marginalized people from Sirha, 1,305 Saptari and 2,179 marginalized people from Rautahat have received citizenship certificates."  Similarly, after the voice was raised about the fees being charged in the process of registration of events at the local level, a significant number of poor family members were allowed to register vital events free of charge.

He said that the project was conducted at six local levels, two each in three districts of Madhesh Province. The data presented in the annual survey conducted in 2021 showed that 44 percent of the people of the target community had access to health care services through the 'Community Scorecard' adopted by the Nagarik Sakriyata (Civic Activism) Project.

To make local level planning inclusive and participatory, the project has succeeded in influencing 282 local government representatives, 54 civil society organizations and 24 youth groups.

Bhola Prasad Pokharel, the Mayor of Karjanha Municipality of Siraha, said that the civic activism program has made citizens aware of good governance and he mentioned that daily wages are still being exchanged with grains in the municipality.

Daily wages have increased due to awareness programs of non-governmental organizations. Mayor Pokharel said “Municipalities also have problems. In a municipality, which has a vacancy of 53 employees, 8 people have been conducting the day-to-day work. We want physical support from Aasaman Nepal and Mukti Nepal under the matching fund.”

Acting Administrative Officer of Bishnupur Rural Municipality of Saptari, Sunil Yadav said that even though the country has adopted the federal system since the last five years, they have not yet received sufficient training from the central and state governments, and the challenge has been added in formulating programs. "Since we took over the local level, we have not been able to feel the central and state governments," he said. 

Dilip Thakur, under secretary at the Ministry of Social Development of the State Government, promised that the State Government would take initiatives to replicate the success of the project in other municipalities. 

“There are a total of 136 municipalities in our province. Out of which the project has been implemented only in 6 municipalities of three districts,” said Thakur, “Starting next year, initiatives will be taken to expand such programs in other municipalities as well.” 

Janakraj Sharma, under secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration insisted that sustainable development should be localized and a future roadmap should be developed. He emphasized on the need to advance the local economic development agenda.

According to Sharma, the local level should give priority in formulating the budget for the backward classes. “A lot of work has been done for capacity development at the local levels. Access to services and facilities has been opened after the marginalized people got citizenship," he added.


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