Last month clean water arrived in Kalebo Laka! This means that women no longer need to spend 3-4 hours each day in search of water that is often contaminated and makes them and their family ill. Instead, each household has safe, clean water just minutes from their home. To mark this occasion, there was an official handover ceremony where the community agreed to manage and maintain the new system, primarily through the elected Water Committee and trained Water Caretakers, of which 50% are women. It was a momentous day to celebrate the start of a new way of life, especially for the 873 women of Kalebo Laka.
Since July 2016, when construction began on the water system, 200 of the neediest women in Kalebo Laka have been receiving training within their designated Self Help Groups (SHGs), learning basic business skills (including entrepreneurship, community organisation, leadership and group dynamics). They have also been learning about the importance of saving money and methods to do so. Recording and maintaining sufficient records to keep track of their new savings has been a new skill for many, especially as 90-95% of these women are illiterate.
It is still early days since their lives have not been dominated by the daily need to source water, but most of the 200 women have now requested a loan from their SHG to start a small business. Some examples include vegetable farming, sewing and weaving to make clothing and blankets, rearing and fattening animals to then sell at market or to sell their milk to neighbours. Each of these businesses are revolutionary new beginnings for most of these women to earn money, whilst also having sufficient funds to save money weekly and regularly pay back the interest on their loan from their SHG.
As a result of the support from their SHG and small business ventures, it has been reported that the confidence of women in Kalebo Laka has grown. Women are now engaging in their community in more vocal and pro-active ways. Others have reported that they have made strides towards positive change in gender relations in their households. Almost all the women say they have greater hope for their future.
HOPE is confident that SHGs have already had a dramatic impact on improving the lives of women and their families in Kalebo Laka. SHGs have purposefully been structured so that long after HOPE support staff have moved on to our next project, local support networks and relationships will remain in tack. This will allow 200 women to receive community support and opportunities for increased leadership and empowerment for years to come.
Thank you for your support and investment in these women, whom are now role models in their village and nearby villages as well. Importantly their children now have a different societal model, of which women play a significant and more equal part. Access to clean water kick-started these changes, but the additional investment of SHGs is bringing fundamental change.
Clean water has arrived in Kalebo Laka! As a result, the past few weeks have been exciting times in this small, rural village of just 1,729 people!
At the handover ceremony during the first week of December, the community sang, “History has been made! Clean water has arrived!” Members of the elected Water Committee agreed to take over the management and trained Water Caretakers have taken over the maintenance of the new water system, ensuring it will serve the community for many years to come. Everyone knows that the future will be positively different – with improved health, time for schooling and opportunities for income generating activities.
The new local water points have now become a focus for gathering and socializing within the village. Previously, women and children used to walk hours to access water which was often contaminated and made them unwell. Now, safe water can be collected just minutes from their homes and there is also time for talking, chatting and supporting one another. This has also been seen in previous villages that HOPE has worked in, as access to clean water has brought about improved relationships throughout the village as women have time to support and provide advice to one another. Similarly, children are increasingly starting to play in their spare time when not attending school.
Health, hygiene and sanitation education has been provided by HOPE staff to each household in the village since the commencement of the Water Project. There have also been local people appointed to assist with this role of championing changed behaviors surrounding hygiene. This will carry on over the coming months and years.
In addition to the new Water System, 200 local women in Kalebo Laka are also starting to benefit from additional investment. Self Help Groups have been formed and basic business skills, as well as principles of saving and lending, will be taught so that those women can find increased means to financially contribute to their families and can model and teach their new skills to others in the community. A HOPE member of staff will continue to live in Kalebo Laka for the next two years to deliver this training and support the continued health education.
Thank you for playing your part in ‘bringing history’ to this remote, Ethiopian village. We are now focusing our efforts on raising funds for the next village, Mela Gagula. We invite you to bring life-changing water to that village too!
Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with high inequalities between women and men, and the earthquake of April 25th, 2015 further amplified this effect. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed approximately 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000. The Nepal Earthquake Rebuilding Program started in January 2016 with the objective to unite the earthquake affected poor and marginalized women of some of the hardest-hit areas.
To date, of the 60 total homes to be rebuilt, 45 are now completed, and the remaining 15 are under construction. The women’s self-help groups and women’s education programs are also going strong. Education to women, formal or informal, contributes towards both development of economic independence and welfare of the individual and her family. The objective of the women’s education is to build their confidence by teaching basic reading, writing, addition and subtraction; encouraging them to practice signatures as well as to express their needs, feelings, interests and concerns; and to encourage women to speak against gender discrimination and social violence. All three women’s groups have received 3 months of literacy classes provided under the adult education program and were trained in 12 points of Cornerstone training. Cornerstone training guides communities to self-reliance. The training encourages participation in decision making, respecting each other, talking about accountability, and proper use of resources.
All three women’s groups have also established their trust funds from which members can take loans. 11 women have now taken loans from the trust fund and have started small scale income generating activities. 8 women are raising goats, 2 women are doing poultry farming and one woman is raising buffalo. The groups meet twice a month. In the first meeting, they work on their savings, pay back loans, and manage the trust funds. In the second meeting, they discuss emerging social issues in their community and identify ways to address those issues.
The participants in this project are making great progress towards self-sufficiency! Thank you for supporting these hard-working women!