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  5. Communities at Work: Combating Trafficking in Nepal

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FOCUS September 2004 Volume 37

Communities at Work: Combating Trafficking in Nepal

Anjan Kumar Dahal

Stopping the traffic of Nepali women and children is a big challenge for the Nepali government. This human trafficking has been going on for years, and likely to continue for years to come. There is no other option but to continue looking for effective means of stopping it. A good measure is to start the anti-trafficking effort in the community where victims and would-be victims are found.

The project "Combating Trafficking of Women and Girls in Nepal", started 3 years ago (2001), is an example of community-based measure. The project focused on a prevention module on human trafficking that develops interventions using the rights-based approach. The project aims to prevent human trafficking in Nepal and address the need to balance trafficking prevention with greater concern for women's legal rights, status and rising aspirations. This involves both reducing the occurrence of trafficking and improving care and support for trafficking survivors.

5 partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in the project, namely, Center for Legal Research and Resource Development (CeLRRd), Agro Forestry and Basic Cooperatives Nepal (ABC Nepal), NGO Federation, Maiti Nepal and Women Rehabilitation Center (WOREC).

During the 3-year project period, the partner NGOs held various activities in 7 districts, namely, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Dhading, Banke, Danusha, Makwanpur and Kavrepalanchok. They sustained community structures and conducted activities to counter trafficking as per the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking. An assessment of the project was done by a group of experts in April 2004.

The project was able to activate and strengthen already established District Task Forces (DTFs) and form Village Task Forces (VTFs) in all districts. A DTF is composed of representatives from the district governmental line agencies, NGOs, local police, district chambers of commerce and industry, schools and colleges at the district level. The Women Development Officer in the district works as member secretary of the task force. Community-based organizations in the village are included in the VTF.

DTFs and VTFs do the following tasks as mentioned in the governmental National Plan of Action Against Trafficking:

  1. To identify Village Development Committees (VDCs), the lowest level of local government in Nepal, that are affected by trafficking.
  2. To maintain records of children over the age of 10 who are under the risk of trafficking.
  3. To constitute all committees with representation of government line agencies, NGOs and local organizations and associations in problematic VDCs under the leadership of VDC chairpersons.
  4. To implement locally-identified programs on the basis of priority.
  5. To run awareness campaigns in problematic VDCs by mobilizing District Children Welfare Committees.
  6. To co-ordinate programs of various agencies like government line agencies, NGOs and local elected bodies in regard to controlling girl trafficking.
  7. To be consulted by the national level NGOs while conducting program directed against trafficking in the districts.
  8. To monitor, supervise and evaluate activities carried out in the district in this regard.
  9. To set up an Emergency Fund in the form of revolving fund by mobilizing local resources.
  10. To discuss with their counterparts in adjoining provinces of the neighboring countries to work out solutions to the problem.
  11. To send information on girl trafficking and any threat or chances of trafficking to the concerned agency at the earliest time possible.

In the district where the Police Headquarters has launched a program, the Chief of District Police Office will function as the member-secretary of the DTF.

These DTFs and VTFs are coordinated by the National Task Force (NTF) under the Chairpersonship of the Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW). In addition, for overall coordination, a National Coordination Committee, under Chairpersonship of the Minister of MWCSW is functioning at the national level.

In Makwanpur, the DTFs and VTFs begun to own the project in coordination with government line agencies of the district. In Dhanusha district, an information dissemination system on safe migration was established in addition to an anti-trafficking booklet. A one-page information leaflet was introduced by attaching it to passport application forms. In Nawalparasi, every person who goes out of the village or county for employment is given a form on which important information about him/her can be recorded.

An emergency fund for DTFs and VTFs was established in all the districts. The number of people involved in the anti-trafficking work increased after orientation and distribution of materials on safe migration were done. People in the community were even demanding additional materials. Women health workers through the District Public Health Office (DPHO) were mobilized. The DPHO is also a member of DTFs. And a multidimensional and cost effective anti-trafficking program for teachers and students was launched.

Assessing the project

On 15-16 September 2004 in Dulikhel, Nepal, fieldlevel motivators, field officers, program coordinators and officers, and heads of the 5 partner NGOs along with representatives of The Asia Foundation/Nepal and USAID/Nepal evaluated and identified the achievements, successes and drawbacks/constraints in, along with lessons learned from, the project. They also developed the future strategy for the project focusing on uniformity of the program activities among the partner NGOs. Finally, they developed guidelines and obtained the commitment of partner NGOs on the expansion of the project.

A paper entitled "Reflection on the Project - achievements and constraints" pointed out that the project is 80% successful and the best results of the project were the development of common understanding, coordination and collaboration system among the 5 partner NGOs, each one having vast experience in working against human trafficking.

The discussions identified a number of constraints at various levels. They noted the lack of cooperation by the MWCSW in giving recognition to the VTFs and the project. They also noted the lack of cooperation of the government in establishing a counseling booth in Kathmandu.

There were also problems of coordination among the 5 partner NGOs. It was emphasized that there is a need for coordination between the partner NGOs in the different districts. They also lack uniform report format.

At the field level, they realized the difficulty of documenting achievements on behavioral change of the people in the community. How can important achievements (i.e., community-organized rally, discussion workshops, etc.) of the project be recorded in the future? They also foresaw uncertainty in addressing displacement issues along with migration and trafficking in the coming years. Finally they observed the lack of coordination between the NTF, DTFs and VTFs.

Lessons learned

From the three-year experience, they identified a number of lessons learned. They realized the

  • Utmost need for coordination among partners at all levels including district level
    • Need for coordination among partner NGOs to capitalize on the achievements of the project, i.e., coordination of the migration programs of CeLRRd, WOREC and the NGO Federation
    • Need for coordination between local district partner and locally-formed groups and other partner NGOs for further linkage and program activities
  • Need for all partner NGOs to focus on the 5 districts
  • Need for information brochures besides books/booklets for massive information campaign on safe migration
  • Need to circulate information on the partner NGOs' orientation program for women about safe migration
  • Need to add internal safe migration component into the project
  • Need to introduce safe house concepts into the project as a complement to the shelter-based rehabilitation, with the active participation of community
  • Need to consider community level achievements, which should be recorded promptly, in designing the next project
  • Need for final evaluation of the project using baseline data.

Discussion on future activities and strategies focused on the establishment of mechanisms for linkages between local task forces, MWCSW, and NTF. The group also worked on the strategic advocacy agenda on trafficking for policy changes. Moreover, they saw the need to review the national plan and policy along with the law against trafficking to broaden their scope by including human trafficking and other forms of trafficking like human smuggling, trade in human organs, and trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation.

They also discussed the

  1. Expansion and sustainability of the VTF by having

    * Maximum of four to five new VDCs covered next year, and continue creating them thereafter

    * Task force formation and strengthening

    * Minimum common activities in existing VDCs

    * Recognition of VTFs by DTFs as per the National Plan of Action

    * Conceptual clarity of the project through orientation/ training for the members of VTFs

    * Need for role and responsibility clarification workshop.

  2. Internal safe migration and expansion of target groups by having

    * Individual and group counseling program for community people

    * National level counseling booth

    * Media launch of safe migration books, information kits

    * Data collection/registry.

  3. Cost effective community education through

    * Replication of school-level anti-trafficking activities

    * Teacher training

    * Coordination with District Education Off ice (DEO).

  4. Solution to the lack of appropriate and cost effective rehabilitation and reintegration strategy for survivors and vulnerable women by having

    * Pilot test of community-based safe houses

    * Post reintegration activities (family assessment, halfway homes)

    * Norms and systems through the VTFs

    * Norms and minimum standards for rehabilitation by promoting the community-based safe house

    * Linkage with trafficking prevention program of various NGOs.

The guidelines for the future program of action are the following:

* Emphasize the link of the project with the Joint Initiatives against Trafficking (JIT) Program of MWCSW, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking, and the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal

* For the expansion of the project, give priority to the surrounding areas of the VDCs where programs are already being implemented.

* Organize school-level programs through trained schoolteachers, and emphasize their replication in all 7 districts

* Coordinate the project at the national level to make the government own it (the project) after the phase out of support and thus making the VTFs sustainable

* Emphasize the development of supplementary strategies to minimize the effect of the current conflict situation in the country while developing future plans

* Develop the coordination and recognition of the project between the NTF and the MWCSW. All partner NGOs have to create a linkage strategy using bottom-up approach to mobilize the District Women Officer (WDO) of each district as DTF secretary and focal person of the MWCSW

* Start the coordination process between the MWCSW and VTFs /DTFs through active involvement of WDOs

* Develop project sustainability strategy after the phase out by TAF in each partner NGOs as part of their responsibility and to serve the national interest

* Introduce a system of disseminating the project outcomes and achievements by all partner NGOs, such as through regular publication/newsletter

* View the project in a broad sense, by using the United Nations definition of trafficking, which regards it as an immense violation of human rights.

Mr. Anjan Kumar Dahal is the Program Manager of CeLRRd.

For further information, please contact: Center for Legal Research and Resource Development (CeLRRd), Dadhikot, Bhaktapur, Nepal, P.O. Box 6618; ph (9771)-663445, 6634663; fax (9771) 6634801; e-mail: celrr d @ wlink.com.n p; www.kslnep.org (CeLRRd Portal)

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