The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) supported local collaborating NGOs (CNGOs) in Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham districts to address deeply rooted social issues such as caste and gender-based discrimination and exploitation. SLP equipped CNGOs and promising individuals (activists/local resource persons- LRPs) with the knowledge, skills and resiliance to empower target communities to address the social issues they face. SLP supported CNGOs and activits/LRPs to establish networks and increase their coordination, advocate on identified issues to the concerned authorities and take their concerns at national level.
Specifics of Work in Southern Achham
During 1998-2004, SLP worked in 10 village clusters of five VDCs in the southern Achham. The approach was designed to ensured local participation, gender-balance and experiential learning. Twelve Dalit couples were selected for training and then modeled in their community what they learned. They subeseuqntly produced another generation of couples, who again produced another set of couples. The trainings provided knoweldge about social discrimination interwoven with techniques of sustainable production, land and community forestry, and education.
Before long Dalits who never planted any vegetables and used to wait outside the doors of so called high caste people for their vegetable scraps started growing vegetables, selling, and even giving them to the high castes. The couples were groomed into resource persons and began to facilitate different initiatives. Dalit community gained skills for establishing tree and vegetable nurseries as caring for, pruning, and training fruit plants. They conducted extensive awareness raising against caste discrimination and formed various issue-based groups such as Agriculture Concern Group, Women Rights and Reproductive Health Forums, NTFP Enterprises. Small organisations established themselves as a visible counter power centre in their VDCs. Dalit organisations networked together across VDCs, and federated into Dalit Empowerment Committees (DEC). SLP gradually handedover its work to DEC and closed its field-based activities by mid-2003.
After Dalits had clearly benefited, SLP began working with higher caste, though economically disadvantaged people. Women's health was used as a bridging programme between the upper and lower caste of peoples. By the mid 2001, SLP had organized a mixed-caste group working on the reproductive rights of women, uterine prolapse, and avoiding undesired pregnancy.
Replication in Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham
SLP collaborated with local NGO partners of LLINK-Helvetas and provided them with training and coaching to sharpen their knowledge and skill to tackle local development issues with special emphasis on social justice. The objective for CNGOs was to be able to identify pertinent issues and themes, develop programs around them that included organizing target communities, promoting networking and collaboration, and lobbying and advocacy. CNGOs were supported to establish as organisations working on discrimination and caste and gender issues in their working areas.
In collaboration with CNGOs, SLP trained over 125 Local Resource Persons and activits across an array of social issues. This cadre of LRPs and activists spreaded across 75 VDCs throughout the four districts of Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham.
LRP/activist development and mobilisation
SLP trained over 60 UP LRPs/activists on preventive and curative aspects of UP focusing on the reproductive rights of women and gender issues and 40 Dalit activists on taking up the issues of caste-based discrimination in four districts- Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham. These LRPs/activists were mobilised in collaboration with the CNGOs in the communities in some 75 VDCs of the four districts. During the period, some 25 NTFP LRPs were also trained and mobilised in 3 districts (Dailekh, Jajarkot and Doti) on community forestry (CF) and NTFP processing and marketing with due importance on access and control over such community forest resources by disadvantaged groups of users. CF/NTFP activities could not be continued after 2006 because of local political situation. During 2005-2006, it also collaborated with RSDC, a partner of LLINK/Helvetas, to take forward the issue of uterus prolapse in Banke and Bardiya districts.
Networking and coordination
LRPs/activists, separate VDC level networks/pressure groups on the issues of uterus prolapse and caste-based discrimination were formed in the area and were active on taking up the local issues. These local level networks were federated into district level networks in some of the districts and the process of linking them to regional and/or national level networks was supported. Gender-focused local networks was linked up to national level networks such as UP Alliance, Women for Human Rights- Single Women Group (WHR) and the Dalit-focused local networks to Rastriya Dalit Network (RDN) and National Land Rights Forum.
Issue Framing and Advocacy
SLP used key issues as entry points into wider social change efforts. Together these issues were combined to comprehensively address the issue of marginalisation and social discrimination.
Uterus prolapse, framed as a consequence of patriarchal oppression and subsequent marginalisation of women, had been an entre into tackling women’s subordinaton. Cultural practices addressed through this issue include: early marriage, domestic violence, multi marriage, menstrual untouchability (chhaupadi), property rights, access to government basic health services, single women rights.
Untouchability to Dalits had been used as an entre into ending caste-based discrimination. Cultural practices addressed though this effort included: untouchablility in public places such as temples, teashops, hotels and drinking water taps, inclusion of Dalits, fair wages, not practising Haliya/Khalo system (bonded labour to plough field and other works and receiving their wages once year during harvesting season), Dalit access to education.
Community forestry is an opportunity to address the needs of landless and marginalised people in the society. In this effort, addressing Non-timber Forest Product NTFP processing and marketing ensured that access and control over natural resources was given due importance.
- FASTENOPFER (The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund)
- World Population Institute-USA
- Public Health Concern Trust Nepal (phect-Nepal)/Kathmandu Model Hospital
- Women for Human Rights- Single Women Group (WHR)
- Rastriya Dalit Network (RDN)
- National Land Rights Forum
- District Development Committee (DDC), Achham
- District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), Achham
- District Forest Office (DFO), Achham
- District Livestock Service Office (DLSO), Achham
- Village Development Committees (VDC) in covered VDCs in Achham
- Cooperative Organization working in covered VDCs