More US aid to consolidate democracyUp to $20m announced in additional funds to make governance more participatory.
On her first day of Nepal visit, US Agency for International Development Administrator (USAID) Samantha Power announced that the agency would provide up to $58.5 million to advance democratic progress in Nepal, subject to the availability of funds.
According to the US Embassy in Kathmandu, $40.2 million of this announcement is part of the $659 million development objective agreement announced in 2022. Power arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday on a two-day visit. She has already met Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday.
The investments announced today include up to $20 million to strengthen inclusive democracy and prosperity in Nepal by supporting provincial and local governments to deliver public services in a more fiscally transparent and accountable manner, the US Embassy statement said.
“Following transparent and peaceful elections in 2022, Nepal has an opportunity to strengthen federalism, advance the inclusion of women and marginalized communities, empower its young people, and demonstrate that democracy can deliver for its citizens. The United States will be a partner in this effort,” the statement further said.
Similarly, the USAID will invest $18.5 million to support civil society and media whereby the fund will be utilized to help independent civil society organizations and media led by and for women, youth, and marginalized communities.
While addressing a function in Lalitpur, she stressed on the need to foster inclusive democracy.
Democracy should happen but it should be inclusive, said Power in a panel discussion with Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal and Lalitpur mayor Chiribabu Maharjan, among others.
Power said that the US is happy to partner with Nepal in many ways and will keep supporting the country as it has been doing for over six decades.
“From agriculture to road to energy to schools and hospitals, our support to Nepal is the testimony of our journey for your [Nepal’s] sake,” she said.
The USAID looks forward to working in partnership with relevant Nepali government institutions to align US assistance with government priorities, including those in Nepal’s recently released common minimum program, Power said.
In the panel discussion, Foreign Minister Pauydal said Nepal is always grateful for American assistance and seeks more of it. She said Nepal needs more support and cooperation from the US and other development partners to graduate from the list of least developed countries by 2026, on climate financing and fostering the country’s overall economic development.
“Last year, Nepal’s parliament ratified the MCC compact. We will make sure the projects are completed on schedule,” the minister added.
While expressing Nepal’s commitment to strengthening and fostering democracy, the minister said good governance, accountability and inclusive economic growth are crucial for democracy’s sustainability.
Minister Paudyal also highlighted the inclusive nature of Nepal’s parliamentary democracy, how it benefits women and others from different clusters, while also saying that Nepal’s home-grown peace process was headed for a successful conclusion.
“Democracy is the culture, ethos and passion of the Nepali people,” she said.
She sought the support of development partners like the US in order to meet Nepal’s target of zero emission by 2045 and to ensure justifiable climate compensation for Nepal.