Thursday, September 1, 2016 was awaiting for an interesting itinerary for four of our officials from HERD (Homnath Subedi, Rajesh Ghimire, Sudip Devkota and myself), as headed towards Sindhuli in the wee hours in the morning. After stopping by favourite destination for breakfast as recommended by Rajesh Sir at Banepa, tasting bread toast made of khuwa, we drove towards our destination – Sindhuli.
The lush green hills and well maintained highway never fails to impress us Nepalis – forget the foreigners. It was a pleasure to the eyes to see the beautiful landscape of the terrain, the ebb and flow of the nature through the ups and downs.
Our first encounter was with Mr Bharat Neupane – a well-built man who was around 45 years as we stopped by Kashi Khanda Municipality of Kavepalanchowk district for a short break. He was an interesting person who was happy to share a moment with us talking about the recent development of declaring villages into municipalities. He took it as a moment of pride of his locality being declared a municipality.
One of our motives of this visit was to observe the current enrolment activities in Sinduli as HERD is involved in supporting this very important national initiative of reconstruction post-earthquake led by National Reconstruction Agency.
We were fortunate enough to find an enrolment centre nearby the highway itself at Purano Jhangajholi VDC. There were some of the locals resting by at a Chautara at around 9:45 am waiting for the enrolment centre to start its services from 10 am.
The enrollment centre basically has three functions: registration of the grievances of the unlisted households, legal agreement of the rightful listed households for provision of compensation grant to rebuild the houses damaged by the earthquake and maintaining its records and uploading the information of the households with whom legal agreement have been made. For these purposes, there are support staff based in each enrollment centres headed by VDC Secretary, regular VDC staff and short term enrolment, grievance handling and computer assistants, along with some volunteers.
Krishna Bahadur Hayu, a resident of ward number 6 of Purano Jhangajholi shared his experience:
The earthquake completely damaged my house due to the earthquake. An engineer deployed by HERD through had assessed my house and based on his assessment, I was listed eligible to receive the compensation grant. So, I have come to the enrolment centre for the necessary procedure. Though the compensation grant is not completely enough to rebuild my house, it is a huge respite at least for me as I am undergoing a financial crisis.
At the Chautari we also managed to meet the VDC secretary and other enrolment officials who were about to start the office at 10 to support the locals in receiving the compensation grant. The VDC Secretary was pleased to have a cooperative team members who were willing to extend their helping hands to give some respite to the victims who suffered a serious blow in terms of financial and emotional crisis after the earthquake. He particularly acknowledged the efforts put in by various agencies at the central and district level to make things happen at the beneficiary level. The local residents too acknowledged the good work done at the VDC.
HERD team also noticed that in the VDC, there were 3 enrolment centres that were strategically located in 3 different places so that all locals of the VDC would find the enrolment centres accessible to them. The visit to Purano Jhangajholi was a good learning experience for us to understand the ground reality.
Our next stop over was another enrolment centre based at Nibuwatar of Bhadrakali VDC in the district which was about 4 kilometres away from Sindhuli Gadhi gateway. The rough terrain was quite challenging to travel even for a 4-wheeler pickup vehicle that we were using. On the way, we were able to breathe fresh air and feel the aroma of a typical Hilly village with small streams running by, vegetables grown everywhere, kids playing in the mud and women passers by watching us strangers with anxiousness. After a while, we reached the enrolment centre which was placed just nearby a school.
The first sight that captured our attention was a very good visitor management at the centre. Though there were many people waiting for their turn, there was no hustle and bustle. All activities were happening smoothly. There was a waiting room for the visitors where the volunteers were assisting the enrolment service seekers. We also had opportunity to interact with the VDC secretary and other staff over there.
One of the computer assistants at the centre shared her experience:
The registration and record keeping for this enrolment programme was much more complex than I had anticipated. Every day, new challenges come up. Logistically too, we face problems time and again such as monitor of the computer not working and 60-70 service seekers visiting in a day. In such a situation, we even work as late as 7 pm and then too when the work is unfinished, we take our tasks at home and complete using laptop. Now you can imagine how I need to struggle to get back after 7 pm from this location to my residence, that too as a woman. However, I have received very good support from the locals. I am very much pleased that a central team has come all the way from Kathmandu to see our work and know our condition. This keeps us motivated to perform better. I am really proud to have been associated with this national initiative of reconstruction.
After staying over there for about an hour and interacting with the enrolment staff and the locals, we headed back towards Sindhuli Bazaar to have a look at our district office, where all the district office operations were coordinated. We were greeted by our district focal person Mr Raj Kumar Karki who briefed us about various activities and progresses in the district. With the help of Mr Karki, we paid a visit to District Development Office and Kamalamai Municipality Office.
At the District Development Office, we interacted with our district based staff – District Coordinator, Grievance Manager, Computer and Finance Assistants to assess their condition and understand if they required any additional support from us. We then headed towards the office of Local Development Officer (LDO) who was engaged in an important meeting. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to spare few minutes from his busy schedule and interacted with us. Hom Nath Subedi sir briefed about the current progress and our purpose about the visit to the LDO. The LDO acknowledging HERD’s contribution in this national initiative said:
The national reconstruction activities in the district has been well supported by various agencies and on behalf of the district stakeholders, I particularly acknowledge and extend my gratitude to HERD team for supporting us in this endeavor. In this emergency situation, the work conducted by support staff employed through HERD is really commendable.
Enrolment activities at the Kamalamai Municipality Office was going on smoothly. There was a well maintained enrolment centre where the service seekers were supported by the enrolment staff. There were also various sign boards, pamphlets and various communications materials for easy accessibility and better understanding about the enrolment process.
Our day ended at around 8 pm with debriefing session with the district focal person discussing about the overall progress in the district so far and the next steps ahead to accomplish this national endeavor successfully.
After a day's tiring but eventful day, it was time for a good rest. The next day after wishing our district team all the best for the upcoming challenging tasks, we headed back to Kathmandu, contemplating on the development challenges in Nepal, especially on the post earthquake scenario.
Nevertheless, the sun is shining at Sindhuli raising hopes for reconstruction!