Lawyers fighting to uphold the Right to Food in Nepal

Food is essential for human life. Governments have an obligation to ensure the fundamental rights of their people.  Since 2007, Friends of the Earth Nepal/Pro Public has fought and won a number of landmark legal cases on the Right to Food in Nepal. This has led the courts to mandate the Nepalese government to provide food to the country’s poorest.

In Nepal, approximately 5 million people are undernourished. The World Food Programme stated that 32 of Nepal’s districts face food deficits, among which 16 face acute scarcity.

Legal fight to uphold the Right to Food in Nepal

In 2007, Friends of the Earth Nepal launched a legal case to hold the government accountable for hunger. This was the beginning of a long legal fight to uphold the Right to Food that included years of research, legal expertise and working with affected peoples. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Nepal upheld earlier interim orders and confirmed a universal legal right to adequate food, further reinforcing this directive and with some vital new specifications made.

Following the Supreme Court’s order, the Home Ministry instructed the Nepal Food Corporation to supply food to districts affected by food scarcity. This included increasing the budget spent on food distribution, reducing rice prices, introducing a quota system and including other government departments in food delivery and planning.

While hunger has not yet been eradicated, another important step was taken in 2015. Nepal’s new constitution included explicit recognition of the Right to Food. This shows that effective legal and political action can scale up solutions. The new constitution will be instrumental in addressing food insecurity in the mid-hill and mountain areas of Nepal.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) representative in Nepal, Somsak Pipoppinyo, said “Enshrining the right to food in the new constitution of Nepal is a moment of paradigm importance”.

Movements for the Right to Food and for Food Sovereignty continue to grow around the world. Friends of the Earth Nepal is proud to be an active part of ending hunger. Major legislative reform and upholding human rights is an important pathway to transforming Asia.

Friends of the Earth Nepal policy position

Friends of the Earth Nepal calls on governments across the region to include the Right to adequate Food for every citizen within their legislative framework and ensure that these rights are upheld through government intervention. This includes ensuring that every citizen has the right to food sovereignty as provided by law.

For more details on the legal case please contact Pro Public’s Senior Advocate, Prakash Mani Sharma, at propublic [at] Especially lawyers who would like to learn more about the legal strategy of the public interest litigation in the case