Nepal is a land- scarce country, whose agrarian system remains highly feudal to this day. Efforts at land reform have been unsuccessful thus far. The country, a fairly new democracy, has a window of opportunity for incorporating land reform in the constitutional drafting process, which has been protracted. Land reform commissions in 2009 and 2010 produced land reform reports with recommendations. However laudable they may be, their implementation is still wanting, and needs to be monitored.

CSOs have been lobbying for the formulation and implementation of land-related laws and government programs. Such focus has been a central component of its monitoring as well. Other monitoring variables include
land ownership and distribution; disputes and conflicts; land fragmentation; displacements; rural-urban migration; and changes in landholdings.

Access to Land and Ownership

  • In rural areas, almost 29% of households, or over 5.5 million rural-based Nepalis do not own any farmland (United Nations Development Programme, 2004).
  • 47% of landowning households own 15% of total agriculture land. The top 5% of landholders own more than 37% of the land (Community Self-reliance Centre, 2012).
  • The average landholding size is 0.6 ha in 2009 (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2009).
  • The average size of agricultural land area in the country is 0.7 ha in 2011. Out of the total households in the country, 73% are agricultural households with land, and roughly 2% are agricultural household without land. (CBS, 2011b).
  • The number of households that operate less than 0.5 hectares of land has increased by some 13% while on the other hand; the number of households operating 2 or more hectares of land has decreased from 12% to 4% between 1995/96 and 2010/11 (CBS, 2011b).
  • Out of 4.2 million households, 1.3 million households or about 30% of the population are landless (CBS, 2001).
  • Some 287,100 families do not have enough land on which to build a house – there are considered the agricultural landless (2006) (Central Bureau of Statistics, 2009).
  • Inequality in land distribution as measured by Gini Coefficient was 0.51 in 2011 (CBS, 2011b).

Land Disputes

Number of cases
  • In the period 1999–2003, 40,000 cases brought in formal courts (31% of those filed) were land disputes. According to the annual report of Supreme Court, 2012, total 38,677 (28.7%) cases out of 134,711 cases are related to land disputes (ADB 2007; Wiley et al. 2008).
  • Nepal’s Three-Year Interim Plan noted that there was a backlog of 103,000 land cases awaiting resolution (ADB 2007; Wiley et al. 2008).
Land fragmentation and land grabbing
  • Land fragmentation is a problem: There is an average of 2.9 parcels in each land holding, as of 2011 (CBS 2011b).
  • There is no national database on land grabbing and real estate activities that affect access to public land, agricultural production and productivity. Some anecdotal cases suggest that there is massive scale of land grabbing. For example, over the past two years, 13050 ha land was sold by plotting for housing in the Morang district and in Jhapa a further 1500 ha. This is not only the case in the Terai, but also in the hill districts such as Arghakhachi where 1200 ha of agricultural land was under plotting for sale (CSO Land Reform Monitoring Indicators, Nepal, 2013).
Average time for dispute resolution

Land cases usually take at least one year to resolve in the formal court system and often several years (CSO Land Reform Monitoring Indicators, Nepal, 2013)

Evictions

Atleast one tenant is evicted by a landlord in Nepal everyday (Community Self-Reliance Centre, 2005).

Food Security and Nutrition

  • The most recent estimate (2010) of the poverty rate in Nepal is about 25% (CSO Land Reform Monitoring Indicators, Nepal, 2013).
  • The 2011 Human Development Index ranks Nepal at 157 out of 187 countries. 54 percent of Nepal’s population lives on less than US$ 1.25 per day, and three and half million people are considered moderately to severe food insecure, counting Nepal among the poorest countries in South Asia (WFP, 2009).
  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2011 Report prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has placed Nepal in the 54th position, up from 56 in 2010. Nepal has been put in a position of serious in persistent hunger based on data which shows 16 percent of the population to be undernourished, 38.8 percent of under-five children to be underweight and 4.8 percent of them dying before they reach five years of age (IFPRI, 2011).