Rendered without work, Poverty Alleviation Fund is now seeking money to run climate change-related programmesDespite an earlier decision to scrap the agency after local governments were installed, it continues to exist and it is seeking a new role.
The Poverty Alleviation Fund, which the government had earlier decided to scrap, is seeking a new role in the environment sector by applying for funds under “Green Climate Fund” from the Finance Ministry.
After the community organisations promoted by the Fund were handed over to local governments in 2017, the agency formed to reduce extreme poverty through targeted programmes has been rendered jobless. There are around 32,000 such organisations mobilising over Rs 19 billion.
As per a Cabinet decision taken on November 11, 2018, the PAF Act should have been scrapped by mid-December that year, which would have meant dissolution of the Fund.
But according to officials, the law was not scrapped and the institutions existed as wanted by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who feared criticism from the opposition parties.
In order to make the institution’s presence felt, the Poverty Alleviation Fund has applied at the Finance Ministry for financial resources under the Green Climate Fund to run programmes for mitigating climate change.
“We have applied for funds as per the suggestion from Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada after the ministry sought proposal on November 1,” Nirmal Kumar Bhattarai, vice-chairman at the Fund, told the Post.
Nepal had received funds by virtue of being the party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which provisions Green Climate Fund. A party to the convention can access the funds to run programmes for mitigating the climate change risks.
The anti-poverty organisation is one of the applicants seeking funds to run climate-related programmes.
According to Bhattarai, they have proposed promoting nature conservation in rural areas by mobilising community organisations the Fund had promoted in the past. “We have also proposed running advocacy programmes for the use of low emission vehicles in urban areas,” he said.
When asked how the Fund would relate to its past programmes and climate change, Bhattarai said people often exploit and damage natural resources—for example they fell trees—due to poverty.
“We want to discourage this trend by improving their livelihoods,” said Bhattarai.
Despite an earlier decision of bringing community organisations under the local governments, Bhattarai said community organisations are still legally under the Fund as its law is yet to be scrapped.
After the World Bank decided to discontinue grants for the Fund’s activities, the government, which is short of financial resources, had decided to bring the community organisations under local governments and scrap the organisation.
But since the anti-poverty Fund continues to exist, it is now seeking new ways to operate. In recent years, PAF has come under public scrutiny after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority filed two corruption cases at the Special Court against 50 senior officials and staff of the PAF in March 2015 and April 2016.