Accepted paper:

Drivers of social protection in Nepal: conflict, state formation and disasters


Rachel Slater (University of Wolverhampton)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how a combination of recent historical processes of state formation, the transition to a federal system of government, and the challenge of repeated acute disasters influences the policy and programming choices for social protection in Nepal.

Paper long abstract:

The emergence and subsequent scale up of social protection in Nepal has taken place alongside Maoist uprising, violent conflict, and the promulgation of a new constitution which marked the establishment of a federal system of government. At the same time, Nepal remains exposed to multiple disasters: from the 2015 earthquake; to recurrent drought; to the devastating floods of 2014 and 2016. This paper explores how the historical processes of state formation and the challenge of repeated acute disasters influences the policy and programming choices for social protection. It draws on a desk-based literature review and interviews carried out during fieldwork in Kathmandu and four districts of Nepal in 2018. It focuses in particular on two phases in Nepal's recent history: the period of competitive clientelist politics following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006 - where rapid and frequent turnover of political power brought the establishment of multiple new programmes each targeted to a specific vulnerable group; and the period from 2014 to 2018 where the transition to a federal system with three equal tiers of government overlapped with a number of serious disasters. The paper assesses how these specific events and historical processes have given rise to a particular and fragmented configuration of social protection programmes. It explores the implications of this configuration for the range of risks and vulnerabilities that social protection in Nepal can adequately address, considers who is included and excluded, and assesses the effect on state-society relations more broadly.

panel M2
The politics of implementing social protection programmes: political competition, state capacity and policy feedback