Description of Challenge
On April 25, 2015 Nepal was struck by a massive earthquake, deeply affecting the country and its people. There were a series of earthquakes over several days; the most devastating of which reached 7.9 on the Richter scale. These earthquakes caused serious damage to many parts of the capital, Kathmandu, however the worst of the damage was seen in the rural villages in the districts surrounding the city. Infrastructure, homes, farms and businesses were destroyed.
We created a project called RTR or Resilience Through Recovery. This project is an integrated approach to helping different communities in Nepal sustainably recover from the recent earthquakes allowing them to be even more resilient and prepared to deal with future challenges.
We envisage that the learnings from this project will have relevance for rural communities in many parts of the world who are faced with the need to become increasingly self-sufficient, and resilient during these times of global economic, political, social and ecological change.
- Demonstrate and promote practices which integrate agriculture with all other elements of the village environment increasing productivity while preserving key environmental systems . 2. Demonstrate to and train community members in earthquake resilient building techniques and alternative energy systems. 3. Increase awareness of women’s health issues, provide training and develop health support services. 4. Increase the capacity of village and community based groups to be able to effectively participate in program development, implementation and evaluation. 5. Demonstrate and develop micro-enterprise, production centres and income generation activities which improve village economies.
What were some of the most important things Almost Heaven Farms did to mobilise or engage people?
This project was designed to enable well trained farmers from other parts of Nepal to work hand-to-hand with farmers affected by the earthquakes addressing their holistic needs. Barefoot Consultants worked with community members at the grassroots level, demonstrating permaculture principles and systems, providing training and helping develop the resources needed to build resilience and recover from the earthquakes.
A focus on utilising local resources, people and knowledge were at the heart of this project. Rebuilding using earth materials, diversifying crops/farming practices, addressing women’s health through education and the use of local medicinal plants, and empowering and creating income opportunities for youth were some of the important things we did to engage people.
What were the key impact or results?
- 2 resource centres (RCs) operated in each village, providing demonstration of a range of techniques and approaches aimed at increasing productivity and/or reducing cost of domestic farm activities. These demonstrations have been implemented over the past 3 years so while some are still under establishment/development, such as agro-forestry plots and fruit trees, others are already producing significant benefits, e.g. smokeless stoves and kitchen gardens.
- The RCs also host training in establishment and management of all technologies demonstrated, as well as producing seed and seedlings for distribution to the communities.
- Demonstrations are designed to slowly spread from the RCs into the communities’ households and land, a process supported by further training and follow-up support in farmers’ fields.
- On the Nuwakot RC since May, a total of 1980kg of vegetables have been produced; over 900kg of fodder grass harvested; 150kg of firewood harvested.
- On the Kavre RC harvests include 499kg of vegetables, 680kg of fodder (grass & tree) and 300kg of firewood. 37 new fruit trees have been planted.
- Micro-credit groups: 81 households in the 4 groups are saving on a monthly basis and providing loans from their respective funds. In this period NRs 161,182/- (about £1211) has been disbursed to 30 households/women for children’s education costs and domestic costs such as buying food and house furnishing (for their new houses constructed by Mero Gaun).
- 5 vegetable farmers in Kavre have reported sales of 44500/- (about £300) from selling bitter gourd, louffa gourd, potato, garlic and green coriander as a result of RTR training and methods.
- A training on Incense making in the previous period has resulted in 1 woman creating earnings of 2000/- .
- A training on doll-making in the previous period has resulted in 5 women earning 14000/- from sales. Other trainees have made dolls for their own families.
- A training in bracelet-making has been provided to 8 women in Nuwakot and 5 women in Kavre – there have been 3000/- earned in direct sales, and further financial savings due to producing by self and so not needing to purchase.
- A sewing machine has been provided in Kule and the trainee has already started generating income (400/-).
- 1 multi-purpose electric mill for de-husking rice & grinding flour has been provided in Nuwakot – it is currently being fitted; registered with municipality – 500 homes benefitting (55 Kule + surrounding villages).
- 1 multi-purpose electric mill for dehusking rice & grinding flour provided in Kavre – being fitted; registered with municipality – 200 homes benefitting (28 in group + surrounding villages).
- 1 electric millet winnowing & de-husking mill benefitting 500 homes (55 Kule + surrounding villages).
- Plastic for 2 poly-tunnels provided in Nuwakot- villagers provided bamboo & labour to build.
- From kitchen gardens started with RTR, Kule farmers have produced 3200/- income from selling chillies and 4620/- from pumpkin.
- Farmers seen to be using their income to invest in fruit trees purchase/planting for the first time e.g. 25 farmers from Nuwakot purchasing around 50 lemon seedlings @ 200/- each.
- Farmers in all areas continue to use agro-ecological methods of growing vegetables using techniques such as mulching, FYM and companion planting, and agro-forestry systems established over the past 3 years are starting to produce early yields of fodder grass in particular. Farmers are continuing to monitor effects of new/different composting methods on crop productivity.
- Group members continuing to use energy-saving cook-stoves and hay box. Members continuing to manage plastic waste through collection.
- Tree planting of 400 multi-purpose trees in Nuwakot – trees supplied by local forest dept. nursery (chilaune, lapsi, Bauhinia, Bay, wild cherry, ash, etc.)
- 200 planted at local school, remaining on private land.
- Further agro-ecology training provided: composting (12 women and 3 men); SRI (5 women and 2 men); seed saving (6 women, 1 man) and grafting (3 women, 2 men) – total 26 women and 8 men.
- Women that attended Health Camp in previous period claim problems due to uterus prolapse have decreased.
- Tuition classes for 25 children in Nuwakot (15 girls and 10 boys) and 10 children in Kavre (2 girls and 8 boys) that have been having attendance problems have been provided after school: classes on health, diet, hygiene; regular homework; tree planting activities. Feedback is that the extra classes have been very important in maintaining education and preventing drop-out.
- Drinking water – in Nuwakot a 2000L tank + transport provided for drinking water to 45 households (269 villagers) – villagers provided pipe, taps, labour, etc. + allowance for technician (chowkidar) as community contribution.
- Drinking water – in Kavre a 1000L tank + pipe provided for drinking water to 10 households; villagers provided labour.
- Farmers’ field trip for 23 women and 5 men to Everything Organic nursery/demo farm, farmers’ market in KTM (Bouddhanath).
- Solar lights provided to 500 households in Nuwakot – RTR provided transportation and connection between local municipality and provider (Appropriate Energy Promotion Centre).
What were the key successes?
Our key successes were helping the villages we worked in to become more resilient to future challenges they may face. The villages are now more sustainable than they were before the earthquakes hit.
What were the key learnings?
- Need lots of follow-up and monitoring activities to maintain momentum (or risk activities petering out)
- Put more priority on children’s education activities – both practical and classroom – e.g. permaculture classes, support for snacks, education/learning materials
- More emphasis on awareness-raising for women
- Missing out livestock-related activities is a loss
- Maybe focus with fewer households to make demonstration farms so that others can learn later
- Have more focus on regeneration of forest land and their economic benefits
- Some focus on other non-agricultural activities e.g. mechanical/electrical/IT skills development, driving skills etc. that would be more attractive to youth