Solving The Sukumbasi (Landlessness) Problem Is A Major Challenge

Urlabari Municipality, located in Morang, is undergoing a phase of rapid urbanization. With the slogan ‘Clean, Prosperous, and Equitable Urlabari,’ the municipality is actively addressing various human rights-related issues as part of its long-term vision. The Government of Nepal declared Urlabari as a municipality on May 8, 2014. The literacy rate of the Municipality with a population of 70,605 is 87.6%. Edited part of the conversation between Mina Khatiwada Paudel the Deputy Mayor of Urlabari Municipality, and the INSEC personnel of the INSEC Koshi Provincial Office:

What measures does the Municipality intend to take in addressing the prominent issue of Sukumbasi within the Municipality? 

The most significant and complex challenge within our municipality is the effective management and resolution of the Sukumbasi issue. Now we are in the process of implementing the decision to take care of marginalized and sukumbasi (families facing landlessness). The decision to separate income for the marginalized and Sukumbasi was not implemented due to various difficulties. Of the nine wards in Urlabari, Sukumbasi residents are found in eight of them. Upcoming policies and programs have been prioritized for the proper management of more than a thousand Sukumbasi families on the banks of Mawa Khola, Bakraha, Teli, Sunjhoda, and Soltikhola. The municipality has decided on a plan to offer free health insurance and ensure the distribution of drinking water, all funded by the tax collection from marginalized and Sukumbasi residents, while also implementing proper management.

What is the situation of issues related women and children in the Municipality?

Urlabari Municipality has a significant Dhimal caste majority, alongside a noticeable presence of various tribal communities. The situation of women and children of tribal and tribal communities has changed in recent days. The local government’s implementation of special programs for women and children within the target community has been observed to have positive results. We have continued some of the programs initiated by the local government before our administration. According to the statistics of the Judicial Committee, the number of complaints including domestic violence in the Municipality is low. Therefore, the condition of women and children is improving.

How is the judicial committee functioning in your Municipality?

The primary objective of the judicial committee is to mediate and resolve minor disputes among households and within the community. We have been actively engaged in the process of delivering justice by thoroughly addressing complaints from women, children, and senior citizens. We have worked to deliver justice to both parties by engaging in thorough discussions concerning the complaints filed through the complaint administrator. Having said that, the judicial committee also has some difficulties. We are people’s representatives, not law students. Therefore, the work and responsibility of the judicial committee is a very big issue. I have often heard inquiries about why a legal background is necessary to resolve common domestic disputes. However, if a proper decision is not taken during the administration of justice, the impact on society can be devastating.

How has the local government worked on education and health rights?

The Municipality is serious about this matter as it is under the authority of the local government for education up to the basic and secondary levels. In our effort to uphold the right to education, we have mobilized Municipal teachers and deployed them to local schools. We have consistently monitored the educational system to ensure its effectiveness. We have formulated a plan to develop a primary-level curriculum in the mother tongue. In terms of healthcare rights, we have organized community clinics.

We have operated the Manglabare Hospital as a district-level hospital and arranged for ambulance service. We have focused on nutrition programs for children, maternity, and newborn babies in the upcoming policies and programs.

How is the management of Dalits, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities handled?

A special program has been conducted to protect the rights of Dalits. The municipality will give priority to Dalit youths when creating employment opportunities. To make the youth self-reliant, training including driving has been conducted only for the Dalit community. We have implemented a system where our staff visits the homes of senior citizens to facilitate the collection of social security allowances, ensuring convenience for them. Archiving is a part of our plan, aligned with the appropriate policies and programs, with a ward-by-ward approach. We are actively addressing concerns such as offering discounts and ensuring the accessibility of identity cards for individuals with disabilities.