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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Nepal

Nepal Page Photo
DEW-Nepal distributes voter education materials at a women’s cultural festival. Photo by L.N. Maharjan.

NDI has worked in Nepal since 1994, conducting programs for political party and parliamentary development, voter and civic education, domestic election observation, and youth and women’s political empowerment.

During this time, Nepal has survived considerable political turmoil, including a civil war between guerilla insurgents and the government, and the massacre of its royal family in 2001 by the heir to the throne. Although the country has managed the political upheaval, Nepal's chances for continued democratic change have been challenged by recent events.

The Constituent Assembly elections in April 2008 delivered the most representative parliament in the nation’s history and ensured proportional representation on the basis of gender, population, ethnicity and geography. Shortly after the elections, the constitutional monarch was removed altogether. However, after attempts to draft a constitution failed, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved  in May 2012 . The major political parties blamed each other for the impasse; nevertheless, they continued to engage in dialogue.

After months of political infighting, strikes and delays, the second Constituent Assembly election was held Nov. 19, 2013. With more than 75 percent voter turnout, the election demonstrated the Nepali people’s commitment to advance with the constitution drafting process. 

Nepal’s ability to move forward politically will largely depend on whether the Constituent Assembly is able to draft a constitution in 2014. Transparent and impartial oversight, and inclusive public and political party participation are essential if the resulting government is to be seen as legitimate.

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Political Party Development Program

NDI partners with political parties to improve party structures, promote inter-party dialogue, and increase the political participation of women, youth and other minority groups.In October 2013, the Institute along with the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries, organized candidate debates in Kathmandu and Biratnagar. The debates, which featured nine political parties, were broadcast on live television and radio and provided a neutral environment to discuss national issues.

In order to build the skills of party trainers, NDI has conducted national and regional “training of trainers” workshops on topics such as public speaking, conflict resolution, internal and external communications, and election campaigning. In turn, party trainers have returned to their districts to replicate trainings for almost 28,000 local political activists. NDI also conducted workshops on voter registration and elections to prepare more than 2,700 party activists to carry out door-to-door canvassing to register party supporters and ensure they are able to vote.

To encourage collaboration, NDI supports the Inter Party Alliance, a group of high-level party representatives who meet regularly to engage in dialogue, enhance communication, coordinate activities and participate in learning and sharing workshops and seminars. NDI also hosted a series of townhall forums, organized in collaboration with locally-based civil society groups, that offered citizens a chance to discuss local and national issues with political party leaders and district representatives.

Established to better equip youth to make substantive contributions to the democratic future of Nepal, NDI’s Future Leadership Academy trains young leaders from multiple parties on the basics of policy and political party development, and works to increase inter-party and intra-party dialogue. By bolstering their leadership skills, the Future Leadership Academy ensures members are better able to participate in the political process.

Women's Political Participation

Women’s political participation activities have been a cornerstone of NDI’s programs in Nepal since 1996, when the Institute began leadership training for local women leaders. From 1997-1999, NDI helped parties train more than 4,000 women candidates to run and serve as local elected officials. NDI also assisted parties to develop leadership training seminars for candidates in 2001-2004, with almost 11,000 women participating. To promote inclusion of women in politics, NDI supports the Inter-Parliamentary Women’s Alliance’s ability to advocate for increased rights and participation in the political process.

In 2008,  women in political parties successfully advocated for 33 percent of seats in the Constituent Assembly. To ensure women receive the same level of representation in the 2013 elections, NDI supported a civil society-led campaign to advocate for the same 33 percent women's representation. NDI is working with civic groups and women journalists to highlight the importance of women’s political participation for Nepal’s future.

Parliamentary Strengthening

NDI worked in collaboration with the Parliament Secretariat and legislative leaders to increase parliament’s technical expertise and strengthen its involvement with constituents during the 2008-2012 legislature. The Institute will resume these activities with the new legislative body.

NDI promotes policy-focused public dialogues between former parliamentarians, political party leaders, NGOs and the local community. These dialogues allow citizens to voice their opinions regarding key development issues in their regions, including tourism, infrastructure and agricultural development. As a result, local officials have been able to secure government support and funding for community projects.

In the 2008-2012 legislature, NDI supported first-term parliamentarians as they learned technical skills, enhanced their political effectiveness and worked toward a common agenda. The group will restart its activities after the upcoming elections.

In 2011, NDI worked with political party activists and women parliamentarians to enhance their political skills and their ability to deliver services. In addition, NDI supported three pilot multiparty constituency offices for women Constituent Assembly members and produced a weekly television program that focused on women’s issues.

Previously, NDI supported advocates for the 2002 anti-corruption law and assisted members of parliament in drafting a code of conduct.

Improving Electoral Processes

To help ensure greater transparency and deter misconduct during the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections, NDI worked with a newly-created domestic election observation network, Democracy and Elections Watch (DEW-Nepal). Composed of diverse organizations, the coalition deployed almost 6,000 observers to monitor activities at the polling stations on election day. The Institute also organized a series of voter information campaign events designed to provide marginalized groups in the Kathmandu Valley region with information on voting and the electoral process.

During the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, NDI supported a domestic election monitoring coalition to train and deploy more than 9,000 nonpartisan poll watchers. From 2000 to 2003, the Institute implemented a civic and voter education program to increase Nepalis’ knowledge of their electoral system.

Funding

NDI’s current programming in Nepal is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Past funding has come from the United Nations World Food Programme, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Kathmandu
Kenza Aqertit, Country Director
+977 1 4442 079

Washington, D.C.
Christina Costello, Program Manager
(202) 728-5677

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Published Publication Title Author
01/01/2014 Civic Updates
Civic Update
National Democratic Institute
05/16/2011 Marching Ahead: A Profile Book of Women Constituent Assembly Members (Nepal)
Report
National Democratic Institute
08/01/2010 Final Report on Community Dialogue/Public Hearing & Round Table Program For Women Constituent Assembly/Parliament Members
Report
Pro Public
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
05/01/2008 Preliminary Election Observation Report: Constituent Assembly Election, April 10, 2008
Report
Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal (DEAN)
08/01/2007 NDI Elections Watch: Nepal 2007
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
10/21/2006 Outstanding Issues in Nepal Temper Enthusiasm over Recent Progress
Report
Greenberg, Quilin, Rosner Research
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
Report
National Democratic Institute
07/27/2005 The Need for Reconciliation is Immediate
Testimony
Thomas A. Daschle
05/25/2005 Statement before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on Recent Developments in Nepal
Testimony
National Democratic Institute
01/21/2005 Rising Concern about Maoist Strength; Unease over Elections Prior to Peace: Report on the Second Survey and Set of Focus Groups
Report
Greenberg, Quilin, Rosner Research
11/01/2004 Women Can Win! A Campaign Manual for Women Candidates in the Nepali Local Government Elections
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
08/16/2004 Faith in Democracy Endures, In Spite of Disappointments: Report on the Baseline Survey and Focus Groups
Report
Greenberg, Quilin, Rosner Research
11/21/2003 Testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus By Peter M. Manikas, Director of Asia Programs National Democratic Insti
Testimony
National Democratic Institute
07/16/2003 Resource Manual on Electoral Systems in Nepal
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
12/31/2002 Women's Candidate Training Program Trainer's Manual
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
01/31/2002 Combating Corruption: Nepali Congress Party in Perspective
Speech
Arjun Narasingha K.C.
01/31/2002 Opening Speech Of CALD Chairman Sam Rainsy
Speech
Sam Rainsy
01/14/2002 Final Report: Political Party Strategies To Combat Corruption Workshop
Report
Laura Thornton
01/06/2002 Implementing Party Reforms in South Asia: Challenges and Strategies
Report
Randhir B. Jain