Deliberative Governance on Vulnerability to Climate Change: Voices from Madhesi Farmers
In Nepal as elsewhere, the design of climate change policies and programmes is based on the assumptions that policy-makers, scientists and development practitioners make about what constitutes and causes the vulnerability of others.
On the other hand, there is little space for Nepali farmers to voice their perceptions and experiences of their multiple vulnerabilities in the policy arena. This research explored the concept of deliberative governance as a process to build a common understanding of problems and issues and develop a basis to develop solutions (Fischer 2003; Leach et al., 2007).
This action research first started with of a one-year participatory video project where farmers from Dhanusa District produced twelve films on different facets of vulnerability, interviewing around 50 farmers from different social groups in their VDC. Each film was shown by journalists from NEFEJ to two experts / government officials in Janakpur and Kathmandu and the latter had to respond to the issues raised by farmers in their films in a video interview. The twelve films and policymakers’ responses were compiled into a 35’ documentary. This documentary was used as a basis for discussion in a series of public dialogues organized in 2014 in Janakpur and Kathmandu, gathering farmers from Dhanusa, district and central level government officials and representatives from the civil society. Some of the dialogues were recorded and broadcasted on the radio.
Combining critical discourse analysis with participatory deliberative practices, the study evidenced the gap between farmers’ and policymakers’ framings of vulnerability and how these are constructed. It calls for using storylines and narratives on what ‘is’ rather than top-down arguments on what ‘should be’ to facilitate dialogue and governance processes.