Social Sciences and Humanity Studies Academic Blog

Changing Face of the Ramhity Squatter: A Case Study

Posted in My life by Shekhar on September 25, 2012

Shekhar KC

APA reference of this text:

K.C, S. (2012, September 15). Social Sciences and Humanity Studies Academic Blog. Retrieved September 15, 2012, from Social Sciences and Humanity Studies Academic Blog: https://visitskc.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/changing-face-of-the-ramhity-squatter-a-case-study/

 

Synopsis

This paper presents the case study of 3 household of Ramhity squatter settlement situated in Kathmandu and elaborates the various positive/negative impacts of poverty intervention projects of national governmental organizations like Lumanti and Action Aid Nepal in the lives of the households residing there. The case study was prepared by filling the [1]questionnaire which includes the detailed information of the household regarding various indicators like improved livelihood, health facilities, access to finance, social mobility, improved women status etc.

Their say……

–          “In these 25 years, every night we are afraid of being removed from our house. Some Politically motivated people force us to take part in rally and pressurize government but nobody hears us. Thanks to Lumanti who is helping us to secure our home. ”

Bishnu Kumari lama, 44, female, religious gadget producer

 

–          “I came to reside her some 30 years back when my children was severely sick. We lived in hell at that time but now everything has changed. We know the importance of education but inflation has been a headache for us. I get involved with different organization who are involved to develop Ramhity”

Hari Prasad Adhikary, 60, male, shop keeper, Hindu

–          “Nothing has been gained in these whole years because we earn Rs 1000 rupees more in next month but the price of the food stuffs would increase by Rs 3000. We can borrow Rs 10,000 to 1.5 lakh from the local micro finance managed by Lumanti. We can invest in land, educate our children and open a shop but we must return it in time”.

Alag Bahadur Lama, 70, Male, ex-government officer, Hindu

Lumanti’s Intervention in Ramhity

Like Alag Bahadur, Bishnu and Hari Prasad, there are 127 households in the squatter settlements who some decades ago had nothing to own, and now are fighting with the government for the landownership and their rights. They have become sensitive towards the power of education. Unlike in the past, their socially mobility has increased and the neighboring settlement or municipalities wards idolize them as force of change, leadership and unity. Bimala Lama, the president of the Nepal Squatter Federation, who lives in the same squatter visualizes the changing aspect of the squatter- ‘we had not even a proper road in their settlement when we had migrated from different districts 20-30 years ago while today every households are touched by a black pitched road where public transport circulates regularly.’ As the days pass by, these people had grown a strong sense of unity among them despite the difference in their religious and ethnic background. Lumanti’s initiatives bind these unfortunate people to live a fortunate life. Though most of the household are Buddhist, a minority of people are Hindu and Christian.

These visible changes are expected to be outcomes of the proactive interventions of different organizations like Lumanti, Action Aid Nepal, Bal Bikas Santhan and Tewa. Since these people have access to employment, health, education and transport facilities, they have become the agent of change and subsequently a role model for neighboring municipality wards. There developmental initiatives are regularly given space in print and broadcast media.

LUMANTI: An introduction

LUMANTI established in 1993 is an NGO which has been supporting the urban poor people residing in different squatter settlement of Kathmandu. Its origin dates back to workshop entitled ‘The Issues of Squatter Settlements’ in 1990 led by Dr. Ramesh Manandhar (well respected and accomplished architect and planner). With the aim of securing the shelter of the poor people in the urban vicinity, LUMANTI was established which literally means “memory” in the Newari dialect.

 

 Lumanti Support for Shelter

Different studies have identified 45 squatter settlements in Nepal and 40 of them exist in Kathmandu Valley. These people have per-capita income US$ 1 per day and are vulnerable to disease and crimes. Search of Employment has been the major force behind their migration and these migrants are known as ‘low paid workers’ in Kathmandu valley. Increasing trend in the number of the squatter settlements is one of the key issues related to uncontrolled urban growth in Kathmandu Valley (17 squatter in 1985 rose to 40 in 2008). 81% of these settlements are found along the riverbank of Bagmati River and its tributaries. Government has been ignoring the squatter issues while the local efforts of different NGOs, INGOs, government agencies and civil society organizations are proved insufficient to prevent the ever burgeoning problems. So far, The Slogan ‘Squatter Free Kathmandu Valley’ has been limited to posters and public discussions only Among them, 42% had completed their secondary level of education while 28% completed their higher education and remaining 30 percent have just completed their primary level of education..

High Powered Bagmati Integrated Development committee (HPBCIDC) and Urban Development through local development UDLE/GTZ with the support from Nepal Mahila Ekata Samaj, Lumanti Support for Shelter is one of the exemplary efforts to address the squatter issue of Nepal. Bagmiti Sabhaya Ekikrit Bikash Samihi has also been working to conserve Bagmati River through addressing squatter issues. In addition, CIUD has prepared a brief report on ‘Mapping the poor and their accessibility to NWSC Water Supply in Kathmandu Valley- 2005’ under the guidance of NGO forum. These efforts are centered on improving slums and squatter communities making proper arrangement of alternatives with tenure security.

It is an accepted opinion that these people were forced to squat not by choice but by compulsion as they like every human want to live a better and secure life.

Findings: Impacts on Indicators after Interventions

Different indicators were explored regarding the lives of the squatter households and their perceptions about the changes brought by the intervention programs of Lumanti and other institutions. These indicators include improved livelihood, Social mobility, and access to finance, income growth and health facilities. These changes on these indicators represent how these squatter households perceive their own lives and the subsequent changes.

Improved Livelihood

Bishnu Kumari Lama, 44 is residing in Ramhity Squatter settlement since 35 years. She is accompanied by her husband who owns a furniture shop and her 3 children- 2 daughters and a son who are pursuing Bachelor level study in a nearby college under sponsorship of Lumanti, a national government organization. Her main source of livelihood rests on the limited (often faced by unexpected loss) earnings from her husband’s furniture shop. Additionally, she herself is engaged in making religious gadget used by Buddhist people- that is the self-employment through which she supports the daily bread of her family.

Hari Prasad describes how they livelihood has improved after settling in the squatter. He has been able to educate his 5 children and they are working as Army officer, religious Pandit and student. His daughter is safe and living happily with her husband. Besides sitting idle in his small shop, he also adds to the family income as a local land broker. People respect and come to him for his active role as information disseminator in the squatter.

Alag Bahadur has different experience of the changes occurring in his family. His family some years back had to cook food in stove and firewood but now they can afford a gas stove, fridge and television. Through television, they regularly get updated with the news broadcasted through different Nepalese television channel.

Access to Finance

Hari Prasad, a father of 5 sons borrowed 2 lakh rupees from the local micro finance (Nawadeep Jyoti Mahila Utthan Saving & Credit Cooperatives, Chabahil,) and invested in educating his children and buying a piece of land as a saving for future use. He aims to build a cemented house in near future and get rid of changing thatched roof of his present mud-stone-made house.

Ramhity squatter settlement has its own active micro finance group, a joint venture of squatter households and Lumanti from which needy resident of the squatter can borrow credit amounting to Rs 1000 to Rs 1,50,000. This facility though exists as major source of access to finance is often tangled by different hassles like lack of literacy and time management. Today Ramhity households have access to emergency fund in case some dies in the family or some disaster occur in the squatter. Through their access to money, parents can send their children abroad as a labor migrant, as with the case of Hari Prasad Adhakari.

Social Mobility

Bishnu identifies herself as a very active member of the micro finance group and due to her decade long involvement in the Local Finance Group; she has realized a tangent increase in her speaking and leadership skills. She finds herself socially assimilated in communal dinner and ethnic festivals like Buddhist Loshar which in return has made her feel ‘clever’ than ever. Like Bishnu, Hari Prasad and Alag Bahadur, most of the households in the squatter have developed a strong ownership towards the place they have been living through legally they don’t own the place. In fact these people have been fighting for legal claim and are often stressed by the government’s effort to remove squatter from places around Bagmati River and its tributaries.

Income growth

Due to the poverty intervention activities of different NGOs like Lumanti and Action Aid Nepal, Bishnu accepts the fact that due to the economic opportunities provided by local credit facilities, her income has grown visibly. But still due to the decreasing purchasing capacity of the money raged by high inflation prevalent in the country, her living standard has not improved if compared to past. Like Bishnu, most of the households are well aware about the growing population followed by different negative consequences like tight competition in a limited market and other criminal activities as a threat to security of the squatter.


Health

Building of toilet for each household, a proper drainage management system for the squatter and a common water pump drinking system under the initiative of Lumanti and Action Aid Nepal has been accepted and acknowledged as a major source of maintaining proper health and sanitation for the local household. Households have access to health clinic at minimum expense and for major health problems, the nearby Attarkhel Medical College. Bishnu feels very happy to share that each MBBS student of that medical colleges are assigned to take the medical report of individual household of the squatter and in case of major survey or treatment, people from squatter don’t have to pay bed charges. Besides that, different medical colleges organize Health camp in the settlement at a regular interval.

Security system

Though there is no any police station in the squatter but the nearby by police station arrives instantly in case they are informed about any kind of criminal activities in the squatter. Bimala Lama, the president of Squatter Federation of Nepal shares that the security management has become efficient among the squatter household because there is strict prohibition of drinking alcohol in the area after 8 pm in the evening. ‘We are ourselves the police of this area’- she proudly speaks. She remembers the devastated security condition of the squatter some decades back when most of the criminals used to take shelter and the entire squatter household had to take the responsibility.

 

 

Improved women status

Bishnu Kumari faintly smiles when she remembers the days when even going out of the house was a big challenge for her. Today she regularly attends the squatter household meeting and informs other people about the local micro finance group. She has no problem taking with any male in the squatter. ‘We have become clever than ever’- She whispers. For a husband like Hari and Alag Bahadur, to join hands of the whole family was a challenging task some years back. thanks to gradual increase in the speaking ability of their wives due to the interventions of women friendly organizations like Lumanti that had led them to support their family in adding income to the family.

 Conclusion

This paper gives a brief overview of how an organization’s initiative to support the poorest of the poor in the urban area can help people break the vicious cycle of poverty. Ramhity households perceives the help of Lumanti and other organization’s initiative to build the toilets, mobilize women unity through a local saving and cooperatives, sponsor the educational cost of children and organize different self-employment trainings- very positively. More interestingly, these poor households without land of their own have realized the central role of education in bringing drastic changes in their lives and they have grown enough strength to uplift their voice against government to secure their rights.

[1] See Appendix 1 at the last page of this paper

Annex 1:

Poverty Intervention Survey Questionnaire

  1. Name of the Household:

Age:                 Sex:                  Occupation:                 Education:

House hold members Sex Age years of Schooling Occupation

Note: Occupation include Agriculture, wage labor, trading, collecting & gathering, housewife, Livestock raising, working outside

  1. What is your
    1. main source of livelihood:
    2. supplementary source of income:
    3. What increased in compare to past after Project Intervention?
      1. Higher income/saving
      2. higher productivity
      3. access to finance
      4. social mobility
      5. other specify
      6. Please explain the types of impacts the project created to your household and rant them as per significance
        1. Improved livelihood
        2. Diversified livelihood
        3. Increased Income
        4. Increased food security and nutrition
        5. Information about Project
        6. Confidence and empowerment
        7. Improved women status
        8. other specify……………………………….
        9. Do you think Project Intervention have increased below indicators in your household?
Areas of increment Strongly Agree Agree No Change Disagree Strongly disagree
Income
Education
Health
Food security & nutrition
Employment condition
Housing Condition
Water Sanitation
Productive assets
intra-household gender relationship
free from debt
Other specify
  1. Do you see any impact of this PIA at Community level such as participation, leadership, community decision making?

9Submitted as a Final Term Paper Assignment -2012 June to Prof Dr Mahesh Banskota, Dean of Kathmandu University under the subject Development Concepts)

Kathmandu University

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