The Leitner Center awarded the Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC) from Nepal with its Annual Human Rights Prize at the Center’s Annual Dinner on February 23, 2010. Accepting the award on behalf of CSRC were the organization’s Executive Director, Jagat Basnet and Programme Manager Jagat Deuja.
Each year, the Leitner Center honors one of the activists/organizations with whom the Crowley Program worked during the prior year’s human rights fact-finding project. The 2009 Crowley Project focused on land rights in Nepal. The award was fully-funded by alumni of the Crowley Program in International Human Rights. To read more about CSRC, please visit the organization’s website.
Jagat Basnet Jagat Basnet has been a land rights organizer in Nepal since 1993, when he established the Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC). Linking land rights to popular education and human rights, and recognizing the need to change cultural caste and gender discrimination and exploitative practices, CSRC works to empower landless farmers through grassroots organizing, and facilitates advocacy within the national government. The organization has grown from working in two Village Development Committees in 1993 to covering fifty districts in Nepal today.
Born to a poor family in Sindhupalchok, Nepal, Jagat saw at an early age that lack of education made his family vulnerable to exploitation, including having their land seized by a neighbor. Jagat walked two hours each day to attend school so he could fulfill his vow to work for all Nepali people who are exploited and face eviction from their land. He later volunteered as a primary school teacher in his hometown, and campaigned to enroll girls in schools. A majority of the villagers there now send their daughters to school as a result of his efforts.
Jagat was recognized for his work as a Maja Koene Social Activist in 2006, and an Ashoka Fellow in 2007. He writes widely on land reform and social empowerment.
Jagat Deuja Jagat Deuja faced poverty from an early age growing up in rural central Nepal. He spent his youth working with social organizations urging for empowerment of the poor. Jagat joined the land rights movement in 1996 and has since become CSRC’s Programme Manager. As part of his work, Jagat travels multiple times each month to different areas of rural Nepal. He speaks with landless tenant farmers, evicted communities, ex-bonded laborers, and other disempowered groups who are unable to access land to facilitate their rights to food, housing, and an adequate standard of living.
Jagat engages in popular education, provides trainings to groups who want to organize, facilitates communication with local government, and works with the National Land Rights Forum, a grassroots organization supported by CSRC. He frequently writes about land rights and land reform issues.