NIMD organized a study visit for a delegation of Nepalese government officials, together with International IDEA and VNG International, between 11 and 14 March. Several (deputy) mayors from different Nepalese municipalities and joint- and undersecretaries from different ministries came to study the Dutch local government system.
The study trip coincides with a critical point in Nepalese politics, with the country transitioning from a unitary system to a federal structure. Local governments have received greater autonomy, and subsequent local elections (the first in 20 years) led to high expectations. Nepal’s municipalities currently face challenges regarding resources, staff, and the new roles and responsibilities the transition has created.
To learn more about local governance in the Netherlands, NIMD and its partners planned several visits to The Hague, Leiden and Voorschoten. The fact that Dutch municipalities had previously confronted similar issues to those faced by their counterparts in Nepal meant that there was much room for knowledge-sharing – in both directions. Although Nepal and the Netherlands are very different countries, it was interesting to see that to see that there are there are parallels between Nepal and the Netherlands. For example, in Voorschoten, it was interesting to see how Dutch and Nepalese municipalities each address issues such as poverty.
A busy schedule
On the second day the delegation visited two assistant professors from the University of Leiden in the Hague. In the afternoon, the delegation was at the office of the VNG to learn more about the representation of the interests of Dutch municipalities and provinces. During these sessions, the delegation was very interested in the resources of municipalities of provinces, the different mechanisms to hold political representatives accountable and the interaction of provinces with the national and municipal level.
The following day, the delegation visited the municipalities of Leiden and Voorschoten. After a short tour through the old town hall of the Leiden, the delegation showed particular interest in the roles and responsibilities of the municipality and policy-making. A historic building in the main street of Voorschoten was the venue where the mayor and two aldermen (wethouders) received the delegation. This meeting was particularly interesting for the different (deputy) mayors of Nepalese municipalities and they had many questions regarding the budget of the municipality and how to ensure that citizens are involved in decision-making.