Sanju Koirala

Sunday October 04, 2015

sanju-koirala

 

Sanju Koirala 

GESA 2013  |  Nepal  |  Social Environmentalist

 

I want to advocate for the rights of all kinds of displaced people and establish an organization to work for their benefit and welfare.

I am a young woman from Nepal currently enrolled as a PhD candidate in Human Geography at University of Otago, New Zealand. Prior to this, I did an MA degree in Regional Development Planning and Management and a BA in Development Studies from Nepal. Besides my academic qualifications, I have worked in several development organizations in Nepal. I started my career as an intern in UNDP Micro-Enterprise Development Program and Public Private Partnership Program for Urban Environment. Later, I joined Caritas Nepal as a program assistant for the Small Development Initiative Program. I have also worked with Social Science Baha as a Critical Thinking Program Officer and Youth Program Officer.

In a broader picture, my current PhD research is focused on assessing the impact of macro hydropower projects to the local people living around project locations. Specifically, I am focusing on exploring the dynamics that occurs during the pre-implementation phase of macro hydropower projects on issues around compensation, displacement and resettlement. I am further interested in exploring the role of the civil society in shaping development policies in Nepal particularly the policies related to macro hydro projects.

Interaction with local community members of Tharku VDC, Lamjung district

Interaction with local community members of Tharku VDC, Lamjung district

As a citizen from an underdeveloped country, I have witnessed a number of social, environmental, developmental, and economical problems in my day-to-day life. I wanted to deeply understand the causes and consequences of these problems, thus I was motivated to choose development studies as my undergraduate course. This course remained an eye-opener to me in many senses. One incident which I will never forget: as a part of field work at the university, we went to the Melamchi Water Supply Project area for an EIA. During the visit, I had the opportunity to interact with the people displaced by the project. That was the first time I came across with the people affected by the development project. At that time, I was very young and prior to that field visit, my simple thought on development was limited to “increase in quality of living standard”. For the first time, my interaction with the affected locals made me realize what development means, or being more precise, what sustainable or just development means.

I have three major plans for the future. After the completion of my PhD, I first want to work as a social and environmental impact assessment expert in Nepal and around the world. Second, I want to establish an organization in Nepal that focuses on working for the benefit, welfare, and rights of the people affected by development projects. Third, I want to work towards moulding a future generation of development and environment leaders in Nepal by engaging, involving, and inspiring young people to take part in various initiatives of my proposed organization.

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