How villagers in Nepal are making sure their concerns over a mega dam project are heard

We walked on unpaved and dusty roads. Women cut their rice crops in rice paddies, while men who use “topi” crush traditional Nepal stems against threshing stones. Water buffalo graze in the fields. Along the main road, uniformed children arrive from school. They cross a suspension bridge and make their way uphill and out of sight.

The suspension bridge crosses a river that flows clear and fast. As I approach the bridge, my heart begins to beat and I can not look down. I walked away and I sit on the grass nearby, next to an old man looking towards the river. “I helped build that bridge,” he said. “It was the only way people living on the other side of the river could go to the city and the kids could go to school if the dam was built, the bridge, all these houses – everything – will be under water. ”

The man spoke Tanahu hydroelectric project, threatening homes, homes and resources of the Damauli, Tanahu communities. I was visiting the area to know the proposed dam and understand what the communities thought the project.

The Tanahu hydroelectric project involves the construction of a 140-megawatt power plant with water storage facilities and transmission system. The project is expected to cost about $ 550 million and will be completed by 2020. The Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency provide funding for the project.

The dam needs to expand access to clean and sustainable energy, according to the Asian Development Bank, and investment will boost trade, productivity, job creation and the quality of life of citizens and the development of Community in a rural area. This story seems positive on paper, but quickly learned that the people directly affected by the project have a different story to share.

According to residents of Tanahu, more than 750 families will be affected by the hydroelectric project. Members of the community belong to different indigenous groups such as Magar, Gurung, Newari. They depend on land for sustenance and are concerned about the impacts on their land and their traditional environment.

For indigenous communities, meaningful participation in consultation and decision-making is an essential prerequisite for any development project. This is not the case for Tanahu. As a resident was found: “We have no information on the exact financing of this project. There were no public hearings.”

To address this gap in access to information, strengthening the Foundation’s community, social justice and the Aboriginal women’s legal consciousness group with the support of the Alliance for the Indigenous Peoples of Asia, the Council The International Accountability and Accountability Project, organized a November workshop to share information on Outreach and understand the situation of affected communities.

As a group, we are committed to supporting communities in their efforts to collaborate with banks, government and business for their needs. During training, community members learned the relevant national laws of a high-level advocate for indigenous rights. They also heard representatives of the Asian Peoples Alliance in international legal frameworks to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and relevant policies of the Asian Development Bank.