Women Empowerment and Income Generation Project (one of the 21 projects that make up the BCHD umbrella project) supported 135 original families and 70 families with buffaloes. The project participants have not only been increasing their income through the inputs provided by the project but have also initiated projects for the benefit of the whole community.
On one of the PSRP sessions it was noted that the limitation to increasing income from goats and buffaloes was that their village did not have a paved road to drive on. So in their own initiative and effort, the members of Gayeatri Pariwar Bachat Samuha have been able to build 2 km motor road by lobbying Rs.100,000 from Kamal Mai VDC and District Development Office.
The community members donated 2 weeks’ worth of labor for this project. Men of the community also gave their full support for this project. The road joins Kamalamai VDC with the capital of the district.
Increased income -- The production of milk and dairy products along with vegetable crops has become a major source of income for the families. Poultry farming and mobile petty shops are also additional income generating sources for some groups.
Engagement in collective income generating activities has enabled groups to multiply their group funds, which are loaned to needy members at a low interest rate.
Having access to a regular income has enabled families to enroll their children in school and tend to their health care needs. With surplus income in hand, many families have improved their houses and bought assets such as land to expand production activities.
Improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation -- Hygiene and sanitation of project families has improved through the construction of 31 concrete toilets and 20 improved stoves in family homes. The supply of clean drinking water and a sewage system are all contributing to a decrease in health risks and disease.
CAHWs (Community Animal Health Workers) are very active in the communities providing their services. Through frequent visits they ensure that animal sheds, feeds and health care are given proper and timely attention.
Families are consuming nutritious, healthy and balanced meals. Their diets include fresh vegetables produced in their kitchen gardens and milk. Special priority is given to infants, adolescent girls and pregnant mothers in view of their nutritional requirements.
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.
Families have earned substantial income through livestock farming, approximately Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 100,000 ($350 to $1,200). The participants have begun vegetable farming for additional earnings as well as for their own family’s consumption of fresh groceries. They have become concerned about animal well-being, which has led to the use of appropriate shelters and animal supplies that have improved the productivity of their animals.
The SHGs have initiated a monthly cleaning campaign. Eighty-five more families have built toilets in their home. Awareness of health issues has helped to control the outbreak of communicable diseases and healthy sanitary practices have been adopted by project families. Increase in fodder/forage plantation has protected the environment and added lushness to the community.
Families have realized the value of education, leading to a higher number of student enrollment at schools. There is a positive change in attitude of participants regarding educating their daughters. Most of the participants can now write their name and read simple words essential in their everyday life through VBLP program. Women have developed leadership skills that have enabled them to obtain memberships in various committees.
Self Help Groups are stepping ahead towards building a community which is empowered irrespective of class, gender and caste, where capacities of each and every deserving native are built and holistic approach of community is approached. Their participation in community development work has increased significantly. Discriminatory practices have minimized significantly evident from the fact that only fewer social and family disputes occur. Access of women to available resources for its effective and efficient use has increased. They have been able to leverage resources from various stakeholders and employ it for the overall community development activities. 40 women have learned fundamental reading and writing skills by means of VBLP classes.
Families have established fodder/forage nursery which has led to abundant supply of improved feed for animals eventually improving their health and productivity. The families have become financially self-reliant by involving in various income generating activities. 50 families have build compost pit and 35 more families have started vermiculture. This has helped them in proper waste management and in achieving improvements in cash crops and vegetable production. The families have now advanced to practicing organic farming. They have maintained kitchen garden, which has facilitated them to grow sufficient vegetables and put together some earning. 270 families have made Rs. 197,700 by selling vegetables. 40 families have made revenue of Rs. 1,200,000 by selling milk and milk products. 130 families have earned Rs. 335,000 from meat goats. In addition, their group fund too is increasing significantly by means of carrying out various collective activities and programs.
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