All three members of a single family--Gopal Sunar, 62, Aasar Sunar, 59, and Prasad Sunar, 57,—from Reugha of Rolpa Municipality-2 are dumb and deaf since birth. They live in a house constructed by the government.
As the May 13 local election nears, political party leaders, as usual, have showed up and reached out to general people, begging votes. They have their baggage full of slogans for development activities, poverty elimination and prosperity.
Like in the past, they have reached out to the speech and hearing impaired people in this election too, only during the election. As usual, they have distributed slogans of poverty elimination and prosperity to local people including the dumb and deaf family.
But, poverty has always been an overriding concern for the family ever. Promises and commitments for poverty alleviation distributed by political parties during elections have continued to be a far cry for the poor people including the dumb and deaf family. They are always worried about managing two square meals a day for themselves. They sometimes slept empty stomach.
"There are many nights wherein we slept empty stomach. We do not have food to eat and clothes to wear," lamented Gopal. They have been sustaining on wages they earned from weaving ropes. However, their ageing has put them in difficulties in the days to come.
Gopal gets Rs 1,000 as a senior dalit monthly allowance from the ward office while Prasad draws Rs 600 each month. Aasara has been deprived of allowance citing that her marital status.
Lalsari Ghartimagar, 17, has been bed-ridden due to illness for the past eight years. Her journey towards an education life stopped at the age of nine while she was in grade three as she become immobile.
Her mother Bheem Kumari Ghartimagar passed away four years back. Her father is also a paraplegic. She lives with her two siblings who are 14 and nine years old and with her octogenarian grandmother Naula Gharti Magar. The condition of Lalsari is further worsening. Now she is struggling with leg ulcer as well and urinary problem.
Though her mother when she was alive and her aunt took her to Dang, Kathmandu and Kavrepalanchowk for treatment, the family could not afford better treatment for her due to poor financial condition. The family had to sell their paddy field to adjust with the burden of loan they owed. They had taken loan for her treatment. The family’s agricultural production is hardly sufficient to manage food requirement less than three months. It means they have to struggle for managing a two-square meal rest of the months.
These people are just representatives of poverty-stricken community in Rolpa municipality and the Madi rural municipality. Fifty percent of the total population in Rolpa is under the poverty line. According to 'Nepal: Small Area Estimation of Poverty', the number of poor in Rolpa is 57,504, but this large chunk of the population is yet to get concerns of political parties.
Bhimsen Ghartimagar, a social worker of Rolpa Municipality-2, said poverty alleviation does not figure in the election manifestos of the parties. He added that the political parties rather give priority to infrastructure construction but neglect the topic of poverty alleviation in their election manifestos.
"The local governments here seldom care to bring programmes for poverty alleviation. They go after construction of structures like view towers and the like," he rued.
Rolpa district is ranked in the 68th position among 77 districts of the country in terms of the human development index. It lags behind in terms of socio-economic development.
However, the local political parties and local governments in the district are in a race of constructing view towers on hilltop as a sign of development, instead of bringing concrete programmes for reducing the endemic poverty. Four view towers have been constructed in the past five years. The voters consider construction of view towers as waste of money.
In the view of Tirtha Acharya, the district president of Human Rights Defenders Alliance, poverty alleviation should have become the priority of the political parties but that is not the case.
Source: National News Agency Nepal