CSRC: Helping secure land rights

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

CSRC: Helping secure land rights

113 landless farmers of Gadhawa Rural Municipality-5 Parshiya of Dang district have been fighting for their tenure security for generations. They are still deprived of getting government’s facilities including access to better education, adequate housing for dignified life and upliftment of their lives by improving sustainable livelihood in the absence of land registration in their own name. In the past, they used to work as wage laborers in different areas for survival although nearly 474 hectare of land remained unused at the bank of Rapti River. Chintamani Chaudhari of Parshiya said; “when I was child this land was captured by an elite landlord. We used to work as agricultural laborers for him. It was not sure whether this land was registered in his name or not. ” 

In 2017 Community Self Reliance Centre conducted a context mapping of ward 5 of Gadhawa Rural Municpality including Parshiya community together with community members to find out availability of land resources, possibility of their utilization for the upliftment of the livelihood of landless and former Kamaiyas. The final report of context mapping showed that 474 hectare of land identified which remained unused since 2000. 

Then, the members of Village Land Rights Forum (VLRF) also discussed the possibility of utilization of fallow land by landless people in their regular meeting. Finally, all members of VLRF reached the conclusion that they should use the land to improve and strengthen their livelihood.  

Fallow land utilization was one of the major opportunities identified for developing an inclusive agricultural entrepreneurship model from bottom-up. The discussions led by Parshiya VLRF supported the identification of unregistered fallow lands, which can be utilized by landless for increasing their agricultural produce. Likewise, to get support from local government units, a series of discussions with ward chairpersons, and members was also organized. Finally, 113 HHs of Parshiya have cultivated 57.57 hectare of land and produced different crops in the fallow land. They produced vegetables, paddy, maize and ground-nuts near the bank of Rapti river which remained unused for about a decade.  

Now, the unused land has become cultivable and productive to produce several crops. Meanwhile, the members of VLRF also urged the provincial government to support the utilization of fallow land and demanded necessary resources.

Gaura Chaudhari, who has been cultivating fallow land in Pershiya said, “We have Rs 21,000 investment in 2.03 hectare area of land for seeds, fertilizer, labor and other necessary input for the farming. We earned about Rs 41,000 by selling our vegetables in a single season from this land. Manjari Women Small Farmers Agriculture Cooperative Ltd. also collected our produce by paying a reasonable price.  We are getting attractive prices from seasonal vegetables rather than other paddy and maize.” 

The local farmers have also demanded from the government to increase the support amount to boost the production of the areas. Chintamani said, “Now our family members need not go downtown to work as wage laborers. We work in ‘our farm’ from early morning to late evening. If the government guarantees our tenure security we will be eligible to claim government’s grants, loans which would support teaching our children in good schools or colleges.” 

CSRC and its roles for Combating Gender Based Violence 

CSRC has been campaigning for comprehensive agrarian reform and the land rights of working farmers and tillers for almost three decades. Through this time, CSRC has worked to organize and raise consciousness amongst those deprived of land rights, build public opinion in favor of progressive land reform, and conduct action-research related to land and agrarian issues. Today, it is regarded as a national resource organization by intellectuals, and policymakers who are concerned with land and agrarian rights.

Through the process of raising awareness on land and agrarian rights, organizing the rights-deprived, conducting action-research, and campaigning for land reform, CSRC has presence in more than one-thirds of the nation’s districts covering hill, mountain and Terai region. 

CSRC is committed to the belief that social inclusion and participatory democracy must be strengthened at the roots of a society. Hence, each of the organization’s activities and initiatives in all of its working areas begin with participatory context-mapping, and proceed with community-level organizing and the empowerment of those deprived of their rights.

The discriminatory practice and tradition of land registration system has sidelined the women’s contribution over land as most of the land is registered in the name of men in every households. This discriminatory practice has severely impacted women’s well-being and enlarged the intensity of gender based violence. To combat this practice CSRC facilitated a Joint Land Ownership (JLO) campaign, which ensured registration of land in the name of men and women since 2005. 

This campaign has brought some notable outcomes both in policy and implementation level. In policy, the government of Nepal (the then Ministry of Land Management) formulated a Joint Land Ownership (JLO) guideline 2017. The guideline has allowed each couple to obtain JLO by paying Rs 100 as tax. As of July 2022, CSRC’s campaign on JLO led to obtaining JLO of 10,255 families all over the country. 

JLO Certificate is not a mere piece of paper showcasing land area. It’s an answer to an age old plight of how to end gender discrimination. This certificate solidifies women’s societal and economic position in home and community alike. CSRC takes JLO not as an activity of completion but a campaign towards combating GVB promoting women’s access/right to land. The campaign not only has changed perceptions of husband’s and communities but also empower women for their social and economic wellbeing.