School of Ecology, Agriculture and Community Works (SEACOW) was CAED’s first project, operational since 1992. SEACOW began in the upper catchment of Lothar watershed, a narrow valley called Kandrang at the juncture of Makwanpur, Dhading and Chitwan Districts. Later, it expanded some of its activities to 3 other districts inhabited by an autochthonous indigenous group of people called Chepangs.
SEACOW has been helping the Chepang community in a variety of ways. Environmentally appropriate techniques make better use of the land. Cash is generated by effective management of marginal land and other common resources. Individuals gain confidence and the group as a whole has been claiming rights and asserting their identity. Educational quality has been enhanced access increased, and the community participates more with the school to make it receptive to the needs and desires of their children.
General productivity has increased. After 5 years of work, SEACOW reviewed the changes in Kandrang. Although the issue of poverty persists,changes are significant. General productivity, self-awareness and empowerment has increased in Kandrang and surrounding areas and some VDCs in Makwanpur. People have greater crop and cash production from marginal lands and forests. The community has adopted a more sustainable tree-based form of agriculture rather than crop-based which was problematic in their steep terrain. People have planted a number of citrus and fodder trees and medicinal plants, and are establishing hedgerows in the slashed-and-burnt slopes.
Chepangs' organizations have developed. A number of Chepang organisations have emerged including KCC, PCL and NCA. CAED-SEACOW has simultaneously increased its experience and skill to work with minority and indigenous groups of people in the socio-economic margins. A Chepang co-op (Praja Cooperative Ltd/PCL) formed with the moral and technical support of SEACOW and is operating a cooperative shop in Chitwan and marketing non-timber forests products to national as well as international buyers. While SEACOW had direct bearing on the formation of Kandrang Chepang Community (KCC) and Chepang co-operative (PCL), even the emergence of Nepal Chepang Association (NCA) is a clear symbol of achievement when compared with the situation 10 years before. NCA as an Indigeneous Peoples' Organisation represents Chepangs from Chitwan, Dhading, Gorkha, Makwanpur, Lamjung and Tanahu districts. NCA was established to influence and guide Chepang development programmes of various agencies and to advocate for Chepangs interests and indigenous rights. To support this organization the Chepangs have established formal structures of committees representing from the village, to district, to central level.
Achievements made in 19 primary schools
Enrollment rate was increased by 14% in 2005 and by 4% in 2006 in 19 primary schools. Drop out rate was reduced to 19% and pass rate increased to 68%, as per the data provided by the school. This was still low in compare to national data, drop out rate was 9.82% and pass rate was 70.66% in 2003. When it was compared to grade 1 drop out rate it was very high in Chepang area schools, i.e. 63 % in 2005. Students' daily attendance was increased by 70% in average ( 69% for girls and 72% for Chepangs and other indigenous group, 67% for dalits, and 77% for other ethnic group). In most of the target schools, students started coming to school neat and clean. Parents started taking responsibility to observe school activities carried out in schools and the attendance of students. Few child groups were successful to bring their friends back to school. Data were collected from schools and it may need verification as it was found that teachers exaggerated the data to show in District Education office (DEO).
- EcoNepal vzw (EN), a support group in Belgium
- Stichting EcoSchool in Nepal (SEN), a support group in the Netherlands
- Oxfam UK/I (Oxfam United Kingdom and Ireland)
- The Body Shop International
- Oxfam-Wereldwinkels, Belgium
- SNV-Nepal (Netherlands Development Organisation/Praja Capacity Development Programme)
- Public Health Concern Trust Nepal (phect-Nepal)/Kathmandu Model Hospital
- Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) Nepal
- Nepal Chepang Association (NCA)
- District Development Committee (DDC), Chitwan
- District Cooperative Office (DCO), Chitwan
- District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), Chitwan
- District Forest Office (DFO), Chitwan
- District Livestock Service Office (DLSO), Chitwan
- Praja Coorperative Ltd (PCL), Chitwan
- Village Development Committees (VDC) in covered VDCs in Chitwan