With completion of peace process, a new chapter for Nepal, says UNDP Chief
Kathmandu - UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Goodwill Ambassador Crown Prince Haakon of Norway wrapped up their joint official four day visit to Nepal yesterday with optimistic words for the next phase of that country’s development after years of conflict.
“We live in hope and expectation that Nepal is close to finalizing this chapter of its journey, away from the difficult years, and it can move to put a new Constitution in place, so that the country can be free to focus on its economic and social development, and of course the serious environmental challenges and natural hazards,” said Helen Clark in her remarks to the press at the end of the visit.
After a decade of conflict, a peace agreement was signed in 2006 between the major political parties and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. The UN has worked to support the transition from conflict to stability, helping to demobilize ex-Maoist fighters, and to support the drafting of a new Constitution and hold elections for a new Constituent Assembly.
“I was impressed by the civility of the discourse among Nepal’s political leaders and the seriousness with which the leaders were approaching the issues,” said Clark about Nepal’s future prospects.
“This country is located between two of the greatest growth engines in the world economy today, China and India. Nepal has location, it has a young and energetic population, and it has abundant natural resources,” she continued. “And I feel with the completion of the next key steps in a peace process that has been underway now for five years, Nepal will be in a good position to capitalize on its many advantages.”
Speaking to Nepal’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals, Clark said Nepal’s progress, as in many countries, was a mixed story. “Child and maternal health has actually seen incredible progress, and a lot of children are now enrolled in school, she said. “But there are other areas where with a very focused push, things could go faster.”
During the joint visit to Nepal, Helen Clark and Crown Prince Haakon met with President Ram Baran Yadav, and Helen Clark also met with the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers, political leaders, members of the Women’s Caucus, top civil servants, the business community, donors, members of the UN Country Team, and UNDP staff.
Helen Clark and the Crown Prince also travelled to Nepalgunj where they visited a technical school that trains ex-combatants many of whom had been minors when they took up arms. They also toured a micro-enterprise fair and spoke to entrepreneurs in addition to visiting some of the capital’s most densely inhabited quarters to better appreciate the risks at play in this earthquake-prone region.