Sunday, June 15, 2014

No country for old

Tulmaya aama peers out through the wooden-carved window of the oldage home. The street is busy with people moving here and there. But unlike the rest, she was there lying stationary with her shabby choli and old dhoti and her eyes full of tears.

I remember how her world turned upside down after the demise of her husband. The way her son, daughter-in-law and even grandchildren tortured her was so much intolerable. I also heard that they tried to kill her so many times that she had to escape. And with nowhere to go, she took a shelter in the oldage home. It’s been 17 years already.

Since then, she is living the lonesome life. She spends most of her time praying to God, chanting hymns, crying silently. ‘I hope my children are very happy and wish they have to suffer no problems in their life.’ She prayed with a wrinkled smile.

It’s really strange, how a child can act so inhumanely with his own parents; the one who gave birth to him, nurtured, and made him capable enough. And when the time comes to pay them back, he kicks them out of the home. The cases of misbehavior, torture, forbidding the parents in the oldage home or temples has become very common these days. Has the situation become worse?

We also can’t deny the fact that the society has become very competitive and fast at present. We need to work vigorously, run here and there to earn a living. We have to struggle really hard to survive in this world, resulting a very little family time. In this rush hour, how can we stop everything and sit to look after the old parents? Who will earn for their medical treatments and many other expenses? Humans have turned into machines. The issue is also very genuine. Unlike the past traditional society, where women used to stay at home, took care of the house and old members of the family now, we are in complete different arena. Women have double loads; look after the household chores along with outside office. How can the time be spared to take care of the elderly member?

I recall the poem, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ by W.B Yeats where he wished to be in the heavenly place where he needn’t regret being old. So, is there any way out to address both parties? Yes, it may sound very rude as per the traditional mindset of our society but it can help both old as well as younger generation to keep the relationship bonded. We need to build some sophisticated oldage homes that fulfill all the services and requirements of the old people; including medical services, sanitation, nutritional food, religious programs etc.

If the parents stay at those well equipped homes at their own will, it will not deter the relationship with the children as they won’t have to go through the torture given by their own children. The children also will be compelled to visit their parents every weekend or holidays. This approach will address both the traditional as well as modern society’s aspiration making this nation another Byzantium for old.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Uneven greens


Sumitra aunt
Women in forest management

Community forestry has been a successful and important policy in forest conservation as well as livelihood development of rural people. However, there is still a pressing demand to minutely and effectively address the gender-based issues in forest management. 

The deeply rooted patriarchal mindset has always dominated women and forestry sector is no exception. Women are the primary collectors and users of resources such as forest and water. But the patriarchal division of labor has limited them only to household chores. Most of the women are engaged in food production: planting, harvesting, washing, peeling, preparing, cooking, serving and preserving food. Besides, they have to clean the house, harvest and chop straw for the animals, milk the buffaloes and make the offerings and pray to the gods. 

Women power undoubtedly is Nepal’s one of the valuable untapped resources. Realizing this fact and for directly incorporating women in the institutional framework, forestry policy has made it mandatory for at least 50 percent of women representation in Executive Committee (EC) of community forest user group (CFUG). This has contributed a lot to bring women out of the household domain and realize their role as the real managers of the forest. 

With changing scenarios of our village where the male partner in every third household is a migrant worker and most of the children are sent to the cities for higher education and jobs, only women and senior citizens reside in the village. Who will be responsible for the management of the forest now? 

I had recently got the opportunity to visit Jhauri community forest, one of the most famous CFUGs in Parbat district, which was awarded the third prize by Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation with Ganeshman Singh Forest Conservation Award for the better management of forest in 2003. I was assisting my Colombian researcher Paola there. We stayed there for two weeks in the house of one of the community leaders and shared most of our time with the local women. 

During my stay, I observed that most of the men were away from the village. Young ones have been sent to study either in Kushma, Pokhara or Kathmandu. The youths are either working in Kathmandu or been abroad for work/studies. And the middle-aged men, mostly the retired ones, are involved in the management of the forest and carry out related works. For this, they have to travel to the closest cities most of the time. Only women and the elderly people remain behind. 

According to their constitution, the CFUG has to select the EC members every three years. However, in Jhauri no changes have been made and most of the male members of the committee are the same faces since the beginning. This has promoted a strong and centralized leadership in the community. There is an urgent need to switch the leadership to the next generation.

Being a woman, it was easy for me to get information on women’s perspective on community forestry. For men, it will be difficult to get information as rural women are very shy and quiet in front of men. We had long discussions with aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law while working in the field, kitchen, or doing other domestic chores. I talked with them about their role in the committee, decision making, and benefit sharing so that I could get the actual picture of their involvement. As per my expectations, the participation of women is merely limited to representation rather than being meaningful. 

Actually, women don’t feel the need to speak when their male counterparts are discussing or making decisions as they think men know everything. It’s all guided by the patriarchal norms, the behavioral values that good women are not supposed to put their views freely in front of their respected in-laws and husbands. 
Nevertheless, during my informal chats I realized that even though women were shy to put their views in the mass, they did analyze the decision and talked with other women about it. Another important thing is that women gave their views on the matter or any decisions while chatting with their husbands in the night. I found this indirect influence of women on men interesting. This shows that women are highly interested in the management and decision-making affairs. 

Sumitra Regmi is a very bold, beautiful and inspiring woman in the village having an influential role among women. She has been actively involved since the establishment of the forest, its conservation and management. Despite her tireless efforts, the villagers don’t realize their importance or explore their capabilities and strength in forest management. 

Two issues stand out in forest management discourse in the village: a) Male outmigration and urge to transfer power to another generation and b) Latent leadership qualities and interest of women in forest management. If these two are placed in the appropriate position, many pressing problems will be solved. Placing women in the vital post can encourage the most enthusiastic women to take the lead. This will address the problem of leader deficiency and fulfill the aim to bring women in the mainstream of sustainable forest management. 

Forestry is probably the largest sector where thousands of women have officially been part of user groups and involved in resource management. However, comprehensive homework is needed to ensure active and meaningful participation of women rather than merely representative participation.

The Himalayan Times : student reporter: Students unite for animals

The Himalayan Times : student reporter: Students unite for animals - Detail News : Nepal News Portal

To mark the importance of conservation of wildlife, National Wildlife Week is observed on the first week of Baisakh every year.

And with the theme ‘Coalition for Human-Wildlife Conflict Reduction’, various green organisations within Institute of Forestry (IOF), Pokhara celebrated the 18th National Wildlife Week from April 14 to 20 in Pokhara.

Institutions like BCN, SHEAC, SOWREC, Bat friends, UNC, AACD, FAN, PSM et cetera — collectively known as G10 — organised different programmes to mark the week that aimed to create mass awareness on wildlife conservation.

Various programmes took place throughout the week to mark the celebration.

One such programme held on the first day was conservation rally that started from Prithivichowk to Chipledhunga.

Meanwhile, a street drama based on human-wildlife conflict was also staged during the week-long event.

On the second day, they organised a sanitation programme from IOF to Tutunga so as to create public awareness on sanitation. Similarly, to enhance the oratory skills among students of IOF, speech competition was held based on the theme of wildlife week.

Likewise, a group of about 90 students visited the nearby Raniban forest to observe the beautiful birds. Bird watching was conducted in collaboration with Tiger Mountain Lodge. Along with that, another event showcased the bat capturing techniques amongst students at local Banpale Danda.

Next day, there was tree plantation programme on the premises of IOF. Altogether 20 seedlings were planted to maintain the greenery of the institute. Documentaries on wildlife and human relations were also screened every day.

Finally, on April 20, the closing ceremony was conducted with various presentations on the issues of wildlife conservation and management.

Sonam Tashi Lama, Co-ordinator of the programme, remarked, “There is a need to disseminate information on wildlife conservation among the public as we have seen the human-wildlife conflict getting intense these days. We, students have to take a lead in this as it’s connected with us. Let’s unite for the sake of animals.”— Anisha Pokharel,
- See more at: