| 10-02-2017

The Right to Food struggle bears fruit

The Salt Trading Corporation (STC) is all set for the establishment of a permanent depot in Kabadi Market focusing on Rugin, Badhu and Bichhaya VDCs of Bajura District

Bajura, one of the least developed districts according to the Human Development Index, suffers from many Right to Food (RtF) violation issues. Over the last 4 years, a prolonged drought has led to drastically reduced agricultural production and increased food insecurity, especially in Rugin, Bichhya and Badhu VDCs. As a result, people completely depend on food aid and on subsidized food items distributed by the Government of Nepal through the National Food Corporation. However, the absence of a permanent depot and inadequate food supply means that their right to food is not ensured. Hence, they are demanding a permanent depot at Kawadi market and a steady supply of food items, especially rice and salt.

Due to the unavailability of adequate rice and salt in these remote VDCs, the villagers have to walk for one week to reach the district headquarters, Martadi, where they have no choice but to purchase overpriced rice and salt in the market. The villagers have to spend over one hundred rupees for a kg of salt, which only costs j9 rupees at the subsidized rate. Similarly, they have to pay120 rupees a kg of rice, which would only cost 30 rupees if it were subsidized.

FIAN Nepal has taken this issue as a violation of the right to food. In 2015, FIAN Nepal initiated casework and empowered affected communities empowered to lead their struggles themselves. FIAN Nepal facilitated an orientation on the right to food and helped community members to self-organize. The communities started to raise their issues at the district level, as well as at the national level. Many efforts were made to sensitize government officials from the district to the central level. The Salt Trading Corporation has now initiated a process to establish a permanent depot in Kabadi Market, focusing on Rugin, Bichhya and Badhu VDCs as well as adjoining Humla and Mugu districts.

Once the depot is permanently established, and an adequate supply quota of rice and saltis provided, nearby districts will also benefit from being able to purchase food items at a subsidized price. The Deputy General Manager and Chief of Regional Office of STC from Dhangadhi, Mr. Keshab Pd. Panday, said: “Now the people of remote VDCs from Bajura no longer need to spend extra money to get rice and salt. Not only people from Bajura, but also the people from adjoining districts will enjoy the subsidized food items.” The President of the Right to Food Group Mr. Mangal Mall stated: “We have requested district government line agencies to pay attention to our problem for many years, but there was no progress made so far. Luckily, FIAN Nepal joined our struggle and supported us. We were able to pressurize the Central Government, and hence they listened to our plights. Now we can see positive change.”According to the District Administration Office (DAO) of Bajura, the government has initiated a process to assess the necessity of a food depot in the district. At a meeting with multi-party representatives held at the Department of DAO )on the 1stof February 2017,recommendations were made for a permanent depot in Kabadi market. The head of the Salt Trading Corporation of Bajura District, Mr. Nar Bahadur Bhat, said that a permanent depot will be established and  staffed by March, and that two thousand quintal salt will be allotted for that market depot.

“Given the frequent news covered in the media together with people’s pressure, the government has been sensitized on the issue”, said STC Deputy General Manager and Regional Chief, “similarly, a depot in Maure market will focus on six other  VDCs of Bajura to distribute iodized salt.”

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