UPDATE | 18 OCTOBER
Aid appeal axed
The UN's appeal to the international community for $65 million for Nepal's humanitarian needs has stalled after the Nepali ambassador in Geneva reportedly informed the UN that the move had not been officially sanctioned. As reported in Nepali Times ('Aid appeal', #268) the money would finance 60 projects in five areas, including human rights protection and refugee support. But government officials and some NGOs worried publicly that the CAP might siphon money from long-term development work.
On Friday in Geneva and New York the UN is launching an appeal for about $65 million in humanitarian aid for Nepal. Although the amount is not huge, the World Bank alone has been providing aid of $120-$200 million a year, it does raise some large questions: is Nepal now a 'failed state'? Is the appeal the first, small step in a grand power play by the international community?
"By no means should anyone think that suddenly the cowboys are arriving," says UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Matthew Kahane, "money will be contributed for clearly designated projects, beneficiaries, etc. Money going to buy food for refugees will not go to fund protesters on the streets."
The request will be made officially in November, via the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP). Last November CAPs were issued for 14 crises, all but two of them (Palestine and Chechnya) in Africa. By June, the UN's Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was asking for $2.6 billion to assist people in 29 countries, including those whose lives were shattered by the Indian Ocean tsunami. That appeal raised an amazing $1 billion of the $1.26 billion requested, according to OCHA. But most CAPs attract just over 60 percent of the money sought within a year.
Nepal's CAP will include about 60 projects in five areas: human rights protection, refugee support, expansion of basic services, natural disaster risk management and coordination. Setting up and running the appeal will cost only four to five percent of the money pledged, says Kahane. "It will be carried out through existing channels."
The government has two major concerns with the CAP, says Bidhyadhar Mallik of the Peace Secretariat at Singha Darbar. Can a process developed in a relatively short time address the complexities reflected in the government's own development plans, and will donors be taking money from sorely needed long-term development projects to fund emergency needs?
"It's not just a matter of the funding.ultimately things have to trickle down to the community if they are to work," Mallik said, citing the issue of internally displaced people (IDPs). Any new programmes must recognise that in Nepal, unlike other nations, the majority of IDPs are not gathered in camps, they are scattered in various communities or in India, while the poorest of the poor have been left behind in the mountains.
Mallik says it would be wrong for the CAP to "make a policy to assist the 'haves' who had enough resources to travel from their homes to safe areas and not for the 'have-nots' who have been left behind". The government's own Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) is flexible enough to accommodate the facts on the ground, he added. "The PRSP is focussed broadly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and our commitment to the population. It does include emergency humanitarian assistance but it is integrated into a wider framework," Mallik told us.
Kahane said work towards the MDGs targets for meeting the most basic needs of the people by 2015, "should not be sidetracked by the CAP". He adds that some of the projects are anyway designed to provide essential services to people affected by the conflict and by doing that a setback in progress towards the MDGs could be prevented.
Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey met UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland during his recent New York trip and gave the government nod to CAP, as long as aid doesn't leak to the Maoists.
The appeal is designed by 13 UN agencies, 12 NGOs and the Red Cross as contingency planning for humanitarian needs in case an emergency arises. "We hope it doesn't," Kahane added, "none of us is looking for a humanitarian crisis. But neither do we think it's prudent to sit back and say there won't be one."
Jean-Marc Mangin of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) says: "We want to protect people's livelihoods so they don't have to move.to stop a bad situation from getting worse." Mangin pledged that Canada wouldn't shift aid money from development projects to fund the appeal. "We need to adapt our development programmes to the reality on the ground but (for the CAP) we're talking about specific new resources."
Keith Leslie of Save the Children (USA) says his organisation chose to participate in the CAP because the humanitarian needs of the country must be kept in perspective with the development needs. "Within the humanitarian crisis, Nepal is still facing a much larger development crisis," he added.
INGOs have also established a system of working with local communities so it was important that they be included to represent those communities, particularly people from disadvantaged groups. "It was also to push against this sense that Nepal is a failed state," added Leslie. "It's facing a major disruption at the national level. But at the district and community levels a lot of work is going ahead."
Largest CAP requests
(as of 23 Sept)
World Food Programme $12.8 million
UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights $11.9 million
UN High Commissioner
for Refugees $9.2 million
UN Children's Fund $7.3 million
UN Coordinator of
Humanitarian Affairs $3.2 million
Save the Children Alliance $3.0 million
UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation $2.9 million
UN Development Programme $2.2 million
UNFPA $1.9 million
World Health Organisation $1.4 million
Lutheran World Federation $1.2 million
SC Alliance and Plan Nepal $1.1 million