This project, which only began at the end of November, 2011, has made great progress. SHGs (Self-Help Groups) have been founded, group rules and development plans have been made through group discussions. SHGs received trainings on Values-Based Holistic Community Development and Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development. A total of 130 original project families underwent training in animal management and received 141 cattle.
Difficulties encountered included project farmers wanting to hold on to traditional but unsustainable animal husbandry methods. In technical trainings, the environmental and economic costs and benefits of raising livestock using traditional versus new methods were compared. This comparison demonstrated the advantages of the new methods of animal husbandry, changing the farmers’ attitudes toward change. During a one-month period, 130 project families rebuilt their cattle shelters and worked to create better facilities to help the cattle survive through the winter.
The original families have now had the privilege of becoming proud donors by passing on livestock, grass seed and vegetable saplings to a new generation of families in need. The sale of livestock and vegetables from their farm has earned project participant families an average of $2,993 during this reporting period. The increased income has also influenced the families’ food consumption habits by incorporating milk and fresh vegetables into their diet. Thirty-five families initiated vermiculture, and 40 families started using organic compost in their farms, reducing the amount of chemical fertilizer used in the community. Project participants are very aware of the impact of applying healthy practices in their households and communities. The addition of 23 concrete toilets and 35 improved cooking stoves built during this period will have a positive impact on improving the quality of life for beneficiary families. The communities involved in the project are enjoying a more harmonious life. Project activities emphasizing values-based development have resulted in the eradication of discriminatory behavior, disputes and domestic violence in participating groups. Many women have learned to read, write and have also become adept in basic numeracy skills, making their daily lives a lot easier. Infrastructure improvements in participating communities were evident during this period. The Laligurans and Kopila Women’s Group were awarded a grant for $1,392 from the Municipality Office to black-top more than half a mile of a community road. They also received $487 for controlling soil erosion on the riverbanks. Additionally, the Godavari Women’s Group received a plot of land worth $6,961 where a community building will be constructed. These are indicators of stronger group-cohesion and long-term vision for sustainable changes made possible by leveraging community resources and Heifer’s support.
Please see attached document for complete update.
Marginalized ethnicities participate in development
Danuwars are amongst the most marginalized ethnicities in Nepal. The census shows that only 68,000 are present in Nepal. Historically they were rice farmers but in recent days, due to lack of education and failure to change with the times, they have been reduced to farm labors and are virtually non-existent in the country’s social and political dialogue.
Heifer’s project with HANDS in Dudhauli of Sindhuli incorporates the Danuwar community. They were initially very shy and predisposed to not expressing their opinion. As the second generation pass on group they received livestock and trainings on Heifer’s cornerstones, group management, vegetable production, gender equality, reproductive health and HIV awareness trainings.
With progressive participation in group activities and group meetings, the Danuwar women participating in the project have now found their voice. Recently three Danuwar women have become members of a road construction committee. Such a social position is usually reserved for men of the elite caste and class. With Heifer’s support, the Danuwar women have been able to stand up and take part in their community’s progress.