National Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAPA) is founded and chaired by CWIN-Nepal, a FORUT partner in Nepal. NAPA has continuously been the voice of civil society for advocacy on the national alcohol policy in Nepal. As a result of the continuous dynamic efforts from the civil society, the Government of Nepal realised the need for national alcohol policy. Civil society organisations led by NAPA and CWIN played a vital role in the drafting of the policy. They also extended their technical and financial support to the Government of Nepal with their experiences and global practices. The members of this network belong to various civil society organisations including the public health sector, human rights and youth sector and consumers’ association. The civil society has also contributed to building knowledge and capacity in the issues of alcohol, tobacco and drugs so that they participate with an agency in the advocacy.
The national advocacy has led to the endorsement of National Policy on Regulation and Control of Alcohol in 2017 which was endorsed by the cabinet of ministers. However, the policy is yet to be implemented as the act that would put the policy into practice has not been passed by the parliament of Nepal. Ministry of Health and Population has drafted Alcohol Regulation and Control Policy and Act in parallel to the National Alcohol Policy. The policy will get implemented after the parliament approves the act upon the initiative of the Parliamentarian Committee on Education and Health.
The civil society was persistent and resilient and was able to tackle the obstacles with strong solidarity. There was a frequent change of governments and of the bureaucrats in the past which obstructed the smooth process for the policy to be considered for endorsement. Every new Minister at the Ministry of Health and Population along with the new bureaucrats had to be updated and lobbied again and again to take the necessary steps for policy endorsement. The alcohol industry is very strong in Nepal, one of the examples is that the owners of breweries have been nominated by political parties in the parliament as constituent assembly members.
NAPA has been continuously lobbying with concerned authorities and advocating with wider stakeholders for having the act passed by the parliament. NAPA has initiated a constructive dialogue with the Parliamentarian Committee on Education and Health. In order to achieve this result, the civil society as has identified allies from the policy-making level. We have been able to work closely with the two young influential leaders who have emerged as champions for the cause. The popular leaders Mr.Yogesh Bhattarai, member of the secretariat of Communist Party of Nepal (ruling party) and Mr. Gagan Thapa, former Minister for Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and a member of Nepali Congress (main opposition party in the parliament, who tabled the policy in the cabinet) are both committed to take forward the act in the parliament to be fully endorsed. The civil society is closely working with the champions to lobby with the new Health Minister and the parliamentary committee for final endorsement of the act. The entry of these highly influencing leaders as the champions have strengthened the campaign initiated by civil society. This example has brought the rays of hope that the policy implementation and law endorsement process will get a full momentum for their implementation.