Urgent Action in Nepal: Right to adequate food of more than 3000 families still threatened by inundation

Devastated village after the flood.

Action begins on 9 December, 2014; Action ends on 15 February, 2015 ***Extended until April 17, 2015***

***Action expired ***



Every year, devastating floods and subsequent erosion are threatening the lives and livelihoods of more than 3000 families in Banke district in the Midwestern region of Nepal.

The natural phenomenon of flood and erosion has been severely aggravated after the Government of India constructed the Laxmanpur Dam in 1985 and, in particular, after the construction of the Kalkwala Afflux Bund in 2000, both situated along the Indo-Nepali border in Indian territory.

The communities affected by the flood are facing loss of their agricultural lands and livestock, as well as displacement. They are suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and water-borne diseases including health and sanitation problems.

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Please send a letter by using the e-mail form below or ordinary mail to Mr. Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal, requesting the adoption of all necessary measures to establish a comprehensive data base on the impacts the dam has had on the enjoyment of the right to adequate food of the affected communities, to ensure remedies to the affected people, and to demand from the Government of India compliance with the existent agreements and treaties between the two countries.

Please send copies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Human Rights Commission, and inform FIAN of any response you receive to your letters.

Why FIAN International calls for your intervention

Nepalese government mandates to pile bamboo along the river to protect a village, 2011.

Despite legal obligations of the state and various complaints lodged by the affected people and human rights defenders before the respective administrative and national mechanisms, including the National Human Rights Commission, the Government of Nepal has failed to fulfil the right to adequate food of the affected people, as neither adequate emergency response, nor comprehensive long-term rehabilitation plan and compensation for the loss have so far been provided.

Participatory consultations regarding safeguard mechanisms and rehabilitation with the affected population and a comprehensive data survey are still pending. By not effectively implementing the Natural Calamity (Relief) Act 1982, the Government of Nepal is violating its citizen's right to food and water, as well as to adequate living conditions, especially the human right to adequate food (Art. 11 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). The failure to act has also violated the Nepalese constitution. The country's constitution states that "every citizen has the right to food sovereignty as provided for in the law" (Art.18, 3). In a recent judicial decision of 19 May 2010, the Supreme Court of Nepal has underlined this obligation of the Nepali Government by recognizing the right of everyone to adequate food included in the Interim Constitution of 2007 and clarified by a Supreme Court interim order in September 2008.

The Government of Nepal has also failed to secure the safety of its citizens by not effectively coordinating with the Indian Government and urging it to comply with the treaties and agreements between the two countries. India needs to take measures to ensure its actions do not harm those in the nearby region in Nepal. The Government of India has violated the right to adequate food in this context as states are obliged to respect the right to food of people, even if these are living beyond the borders of their territory, as it is laid down in the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 2012.

India has also failed to comply with the provision of the Nepal-India Joint Standing Committee on Inundation Problem (SCIP) of 5 November 1999, which describes that while constructing any structures at both eight kilometers upward and downward of the river bordering the two countries, India should seek consensus from the neighboring country. The Laxmanpur Dam was constructed within the range of 4.5 km from the Nepalese border, thus consensus should have been sought for.  This provision is also mentioned in The Helsinki Rules on the Use of the Waters of International Rivers - 1966, Article 29.2.