Jagaran Nepal, an organization working for women rights, peace & governance, and its implementing partner Himalayan Conservation and Development Association (HCDA) Humla jointly organized the launching of 'Electoral Education for Democratic Governance (EEDG) project among central level stakeholders on 29th June 2012 at SAP-Falcha Babarmahal, Kathmandu.

The project is funded by the European Union (EU). The target groups are Dalits, Women, Janajatis as well as potential political leaders at the local level. The project is being implemented in 134 VDCs in the five districts of Karnali for a period of three years.

During the opening of the program, Executive Director of HCDA Mr. Dala Rawal spoke about the alarming situation in Karnali and requested everyone to visit the area in order to learn about the issues and experience life in Karnali. Pointing to expensive costs of livelihood, illiteracy, poverty and geographical constraints as the characteristics of Karnali, he urged people to give a hand for pro Karnali policies and programs.

Ms. Sharmila Karki, Chairperson of Jagaran Nepal, said that Jagaran Nepal is proud to work for the people of Karnali. She noted that majority of the population are deprived despite the rich natural resources of the area. Lack of knowledge on how to utilize natural resources, absence of democratic governance, lack of public services and hunger make rural life more difficult in Karnali.

Ms. Karki added that the project aims to mainstream Karnali through capacity building, awareness raising and electoral education. She said that project activities like the Karnali Summit would be a milestone in mainstreaming Karnali and would help government be accountable towards its people. The project would also contribute to a free, fair and fearless environment during elections. It would likewise help strengthen the role of citizens in the electoral process in order to ensure a responsive, accountable, and democratically elected government. Finally, she welcomed constructive suggestions and recommendations from the participants. She promised regular coordination and linkages among stakeholders for the betterment of project.

Representing the National Election Commission (NEC), Director Kamal Dhamala congratulated Jagaran Nepal for initiating civic education and wished for the success of the project. He said the project complements the initiatives of the election commission. The NEC has launched a well equipped library, conducted electoral education and voter registration as well as developed various election awareness IEC materials.

"This project will really be fruitful and helpful in establishing a free, fair and fearless environment for a democratic electoral system," he said.

Director Dhamala invited the participants to visit his office and find ways to work together. He urged all stakeholders and Jagaran Nepal to maintain regular coordination and implement the project according to the values expressed in the project concept.

Representatives from the Social Welfare Council, National Election Observation Committee (NEOC), National Women Commission, Armed Police Force, European Union, Civil Society Organizations, INGOs and media also expressed their best wishes. They suggested the modification of the project events in accordance with the context.

District level partner organizations from the Karnali zone namely Malika Community Development Centre, Human Rights and Environment Development Centre and Surya Social Service Society were also present in the launching.

National Project Coordinator of Jagaran Nepal, Mr.Raj Kumar Sapkota gave a briefing on the project during the activity which was attended by a total of 65 participants.