Rs 400 million later, poverty fund has little to show for it
June 28, 2016 07:58 AM NPT
By: Krishna Oli
BAJURA, June 27: Programs implemented by the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) in Bajura, one of the most poverty-stricken districts, have turned out to be ineffective. PAF has already spent Rs 400 million in poverty alleviation initiatives, but the results, locals say, have been dismal.
According to records maintained by the fund, even members of parliament have not repaid loans they took from the fund. Lawmaker Karna BK had taken a Rs 15,000 loan from the fund in 2010 in his wife Binita BK’s name. He has not cleared it so far.
Former Constituent Assembly member Maha Nepali has also not cleared his loan. He took the loan in 2007 to start a tailoring business. But according to locals, he used the money for election activities. PAF officials did not disclose the amount of the loan.
Other locals have also taken the same tack. Locals leaders, teachers and other known faces have likewise failed to pay back their loans.
Raghu Damai of Jagganath village is one of them. He received Rs 46,000 to start the Himali Samudiyik Sanstha. It has now been nine years since he and his family were last seen in the village. They are reportedly in India. Damai, who was general secretary of the community group, is said to have decided to leave for India after he was unable to pay off the loan and accumulating interest.
“I had taken the loan to buy a buffalo. But after it fell off a cliff and died, I became helpless. I have not been able to pay off the loan,” said another local, Aite Khadka of Atichaur. He added that he had taken a loan of Rs 40,000 and the interest just keeps mounting. He had taken the loan through one of the 25 community groups in the Jagannath area. These groups have provided loans for different purpose. However, few are making good use of the amounts. Most of the benificiaries state that they have not been able to pay off the loan due to various reasons.
A local in Jagannath, Samundra Buda, said many individuals have fled after being unable to repay. “They were either dishonest or helpless. Many have moved to India to escape the compound interest. Very few have really done something good with the loans,” he said. According to Buda, PAF is not making an impact because of the lack of skills and willpower “They don’t sit for meetings. No new ideas are discussed or executed,” he said.
The fund was established a decade ago for the holistic development of the villages. Social and economic development of the target group and good governance was the motto.
“The program is ongoing in 24 VDCs and one municipality. This district has received over Rs 400 million for poverty alleviation,” stated program coordinator of Gift Bajura, one of the organizations responsible for implementation of the program. Several organizations have been handed the responsibility of implementing the program.
According to Nirmala Deuba, a Bajura local, the lack of a monitoring mechanism is to blame for the sorry state of the fund.