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Panel Discussion

Cover new ground to address land and property ownership: Habitat for Humanity panel discussion
Increasing access to food, livelihood and the right to information all play a part

KATHMANDU, April 19, 2017 — Addressing ownership is not the only way around for managing land related issues, said an expert at a panel discussion organized by Habitat for Humanity Nepal in Kathmandu. Increasingly, development workers and policy makers are focusing on increasing the access of vulnerable groups to livelihood opportunities and natural resources with a view to improving their income generation and food security.

This point was made by Raja Ram Chhatkuli, UN-Habitat’s coordinator for land and Global Land Tool Network. The panel discussion, “Gender Equality in Property and Housing Rights for All”, was part of Habitat for Humanity’s Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign.

Another panelist argued that it is not sufficient to merely give women adequate ownership of land and property through policies or incentives. Some of the laws need to be changed in order to protect women so that they are not misled or forced into selling land or property that has come under their name. Above all, the people themselves have to change their mindset about women’s role in the society, said Sapana Pradhan Malla, a judge of the Supreme Court of Nepal, While some laws and policies have been introduced by the government, a lack of information has prevented women and girls in disadvantaged communities from having adequate property rights. Yashoda Devi Timsina, Commissioner at the National Information Commission, highlighted this in her speech on the importance of the right to information in increasing women’s property ownership.

Beyond laws and policies, a post-disaster environment provides opportunities for social and economic transformation. According to the head of the National Reconstruction Authority, its holistic plan covering 23 themes has the potential of bringing about the much-needed societal change. “The goal of nation-building will only succeed if everyone works with pure intention, embraces a culture of honesty and builds up capacity in the respective field,” said Govind Raj Pokharel, the CEO of the National Reconstruction Authority.

Cheryl Groff, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Nepal, said that insecurity of tenure, gender inequality, vulnerability to disasters and poor living conditions in slums are global issues. Groff added that Solid Ground campaign of Habitat for Humanity seeks to bring stakeholders together to find solutions to these problems.

Other speakers included Kalpana Karki, Campaign Manager of Community Self-Reliance Centre; Deependra Nath Sharma, Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development; and Krishna Prasad Devkota, Secretary of the Ministry of Land Reform and Management.