Now our village has been scaled and measuredAnne Mette Nordfalk
28. April 2009
“One of our friend’s wife was very sick. He didn’t have any money and went to a bank to get a loan but he could not as he didn’t have the land ownership certificate for the land. Therefore his wife passed away. The village block should be measured and such issues should be raised”.
Premlata Bhatta, who is a central member of National Village Block Land Right Forum, looks sad as she tells the story of how land certificates came too late to her village. Like many other poor villagers in southern Nepal Premlata and her family reside in a village which is registered as one single block, hence they do not have individual ownership.
But lately the future of such villages has started to look a little brighter. Due to
intense village mobilisation and national level advocacy with CA-members and politicians KIDC has managed to get land survey started in ten villages in Kapilvastu: ”Our organisation Gautam Buddha requested that our land was measured and now the village is scaled and separated nicely”, Mina Kewat, from Tilaurakot, Kapilvastu, explains when we visited her village fields in early spring 2009, Gautam Buddha is one of ten smaller NGOs that together constitute KIDC.
“Now that we are getting land certificates we can take loans and carry out activities. That makes us very happy”, Jaya Ram Kewat a senior villager from the same village says, standing in his neatly weeded chili field. “And we don’t quarrel so much now”, an elderly lady adds.
Villagers got their land surveyed.
Health, income generation opportunities and village unity are some of the blessings of diverting village blocks into individual plots together with the possibility to take loans for education of children. But to get to this stage one important factor has had to be overcome.
Citizenship certificate a must
One barrier that KIDC and the villagers had to overcome was the need for citizenship certificates. Without this certificate a person cannot get his or her land registered and in rural Nepal especially women often lack this important document. The certificate can be obtained from the age of 16 and women, who do not register before they marry, need their husband’s signature to obtain the certificate.
“In our village 5-7 women did not have a citizenship certificate, but we got it for them and now they are also registered and ready to receive land”, says Jaya Ram and adds that in his own case only his wife is signed up for the family’s land certificate “If something happens to me my wife will have no problems”, he smiles.
In this way the need for village block land certificates has become the opportunity for women to gain equal rights to property. This right may increase the status of females in the family, both before and after marriage. Premlatta Bhatta expresses her hopes for this in the following way: “When a daughter is born, the community treats you very badly. When you get married, your family need to give dowry. If not, you get beaten or even killed. This is why we believe both the son and the daughter should have equal right to their father’s property”.
Ten villages is a start and as such a victory for KIDC and the entire land rights movement, but time has not come for KIDC to sit back and enjoy their achievements: “We were promised four survey teams and got only one, so we need to pressure the government again to make them implement their promises”, says Nirajan Lamsal, programme coordinator of KIDC.
Facts about the village block issue:
In the 1970s the villages of rural Nepal were surveyed, but due to lack of adequate equipment and resources each plot of land was not registered individually.
The village block problem applies to 23 districts.