In a country where employment is not guaranteed and where state social security does not exist at all, access to land is important for the livelihood of the landless and poor households. Addressing the issue of landlessness is more important as this is disproportionately borne by the marginalized Dalit communities. Among the absolutely landless, 22% are Dalits although they are only 13% in the national population. The government has in the last two decades maintained that resolving the issue of landlessness is one of their main priorities. However, an estimated one million people across the country are still believed to be landless.
Likewise, out of 212 families of Karuan’s Holistic program for Musahar families in Sunsari only 18 families possess piece of land and rest are landless and living in the public land or in the side of road. Recently, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Ministry of Urban Development-Government of Nepal (GoN) implemented a program known as Janata Aawas Karyakram (People’s Housing Program) and 30 of the Musahar families in Karuna’s project site were selected as eligible for the financial support to build their houses. These families are receiving a total of NPR 214,700(Euro 1.952 approx.) as grant to construct the house in installment basis.
Taking this as a basis, Karuna initiated a scheme to partner with the Musahar Population and DUDBC, GoN. The Department will provide NPR 214,700 for the construction of house where as Karuna facilitated the process of taking loan to acquire land through one of the cooperatives in Sunsari to fund for acquiring land in 5% interest and Karuna will deposit the money to the cooperative for the loan to the individual families.
Out of 30 families selected, 18 families have agreed to move in this new place, which is closer to their previous residence. A plot of land of 2843 sq. meter is allocated to each family. An Early Childhood Center will be repaired and upgraded together with District Education Office. Also a needful road, drinking water, toilets, electricity, smokeless stoves and other basic facilities will be installed to this residential area. A separate community hall will be constructed which could be used for multipurpose.
We believe that owning a piece of land would be life changing moment for them who are landless since generations. Lost dignity and self-respect is expected to be regained in these families and their children would get opportunity on access of basic requirements to grow fully. On 22nd May, 2017 the construction work has already begun.