The LOGOS Project:
Democracy and Empowerment at the Local Level
In 1990 King Birendra instated a democratic system in the Kingdom of Nepal. Now a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government, Nepal has multiple political parties with supreme power vested in the people. All citizens over the age of 18, regardless of gender or caste, have the right to vote and to direct the political life of their country through their elected representatives.
Establishing a workable democratic system for the first time is a challenging task. In the case of Nepal, the situation is made more difficult by a precarious economy and widespread illiteracy. Aiming to help strengthen democracy in Nepal, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Local Government Strengthening Project (LOGOS) in September 1993. This pilot project, operated by MetaMetrics Inc. as subcontractor and Clark Atlanta University as prime contractor, has been working in Gorkha district, high in the mountains about 90 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu, and in Siraha district, in the southern plains near the border of India. In ten villages in these two districts, the LOGOS project has been helping citizens form and strengthen democratic groups, participate in the political process, and use their groups to develop their communities through formulating projects and generating revenue from local and government sources.
The LOGOS Project has assisted citizens and and local government institutions to work together toward a democratic and material evolution that was desired by them, implemented by them, institutionalized by them, and in the form and at the pace right for them. The project emphasized the building of relationships and practices among group members that would survive the end of the project. By working with groups and their local government officials, LOGOS has helped citizens and elected officials to establish working relationships and habits that will continue into the future.
Chief of Party Russell Dionne and the rest of the LOGOS Project team also provided training and advice directly to citizen groups and elected government bodies. For instance, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation training was delivered to members of the DDCs prior to district planning sessions. This supported the DDC officials in the district planning process. Planning, accounting, and management training was delivered to VDC members and staff to support their administration of village development strategies and self-reliance programs. The LOGOS Project was particularly successful in bringing women and women's groups into the mainstream of district and village government activities. This was accomplished in part by working directly with women's groups in civic and legal literacy programs.
The LOGOS project implementation strategy was based upon the belief that effective and democratic local government strengthening in Nepal could best be achieved by working at the lowest levels of government, and through community mobilization. The strategy also included placing village-based, locally hired staff members in place in the VDCs to act as "extension" or "mobilization" agents for implementing LOGOS activities.
Project activities first focused on making a qualitative change in the conditions and behavior of citizen groups and VDC and DDC bodies. Civic and legal literacy had to be improved, democratic procedures had to be understood and institutionalized, and improvements in administration had to be effected. Only as these changes took place could quantitative improvements be meaningfully targeted, tracked, and measured. Project targets for the formation of democratically organized men's, women's, and mixed citizen groups were met or exceeded, as were targets for citizen group participation in local government activities (including proposing development projects or asking for government action in their interests). Responsive local government actions and accountable local government actions targets were also met or exceeded in all cases (specific targets include petitions by groups being listed on VDC meeting agendas; petitions being accepted by government agencies; and minutes of meetings maintained and accessible to the public).
An assessment of the Nepal democracy strategy was conducted by Coopers & Lybrand ("A Reassessment of the Nepal Democracy Strategy," Coopers & Lybrand, Arlington, VA, July 1994) and an independent evaluation of the LOGOS project was conducted by the Centre for Action Research and Training ("Evaluation of LOGOS Project," Centre for Action Research and Training (CART), Kathmandu, Nepal, April 1996). These reports, as well as LOGOS quarterly reports, are available upon request through MetaMetrics Inc. Please send an e-mail request.
RELATED WEB SITES
Lonely Planet - Destination Nepal
A concise and useful overview of Nepal that includes information on history and culture, a map, photos, and links to other Nepal sites.
U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports
The U.S. Department of State issues yearly reports on human rights practices throughout the world that also include recent histories and summaries of current political process. Go directly to the report for Nepal.