Sustainable Livelihood Program

The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) supported local collaborating NGOs (CNGOs) in Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham districts to address deeply-rooted social malpractices such as caste and gender-based discrimination and exploitation. SLP equipped CNGOs and promising individuals (local resource persons (LRPs) / activists) with the knowledge, skills and resilience to empower target communities to address these social issues. SLP supported CNGOs and activists / LRPs to establish networks and increase their coordination, advocate policy changes before the relevant authorities and take their concerns to the national level. 

Activities in Southern Achham

Between 1998 and 2004, SLP was implemented in 10 village clusters of five Village Development Committees (VDCs) in southern Achham. The approach was designed to ensure local participation, gender balance and experiential learning. Twelve Dalit couples were selected for training and then modeled what they learned in their community. They subsequently produced another generation of couples, who again produced another set of couples, all of whom helped to ensure the continued implementation of the SLP principles. The trainings transferred knowledge about social discrimination interwoven with techniques of sustainable production, land and community forestry, and education. 
Before long, Dalits (who had never planted any vegetables and used to wait outside the doors of members of the so-called high caste for their vegetable scraps) started growing vegetables, selling them, and even giving them to members of higher castes. The couples were groomed to become resource persons and they began to facilitate different initiatives in their villages. The Dalit community gained the necessary skills to establish tree and vegetable nurseries, and to care for, prune, and train fruit plants. They undertook extensive awareness-raising measures against caste-based discrimination and formed various issue-based groups, such as the Agriculture Concern Group, the Women Rights and Reproductive Health Forums, and non-timber forest products enterprises. Dalit organisations networked together across VDCs, and federated into Dalit Empowerment Committees (DEC). SLP gradually handed over its work to these Committees and closed its field-based activities by mid-2003.
After the Dalits had demonstrably benefited from SLP, the program began working with persons who were socio-economically disadvantaged, despite being members of the higher castes. Women’s health was used as a bridging program between upper and lower caste persons. By mid-2001, SLP had organized a mixed-caste working groups on the reproductive rights of women, uterine prolapse, and avoiding undesired pregnancy.

Replication in Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham

Capacity Building

SLP collaborated with the local NGO partners of LLINK-Helvetas and provided them with training and coaching to sharpen their knowledge and skills to tackle local development issues, with a special emphasis on social justice.  The objectives of the collaborating NGOs (CNGOs) was to be able to identify pertinent issues and themes and to develop programs around them that included organising target communities, promoting networking and collaboration, and lobbying and advocacy. CNGOs were supported to establish themselves as organisations working on discrimination, caste and gender issues in their working areas.
In collaboration with CNGOs, SLP trained over 125 Local Resource Persons (LRPs) and activists across an array of social issues.  This cadre of LRPs and activists were spread across 75 VDCs throughout the four districts of Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham.

LRP / Activist Development and Mobilisation

SLP trained over 60 LRPs / activists on the preventive and curative aspects of uterine prolapse, focusing on the reproductive rights of women and gender issues. It also trained 40 Dalit activists on taking up the issues of caste-based discrimination in the four districts of Dailekh, Jajarkot, Doti and Achham.

These LRPs / activists were mobilised in collaboration with the CNGOs from about 75 VDCs of the four districts. During the period, some 25 LRPs specialising in non-timber forest products and community forestry were also trained and mobilised in 3 districts (Dailekh, Jajarkot and Doti), having due regard to access and control over community forest resources by disadvantaged groups of users. These activities could not be continued after 2006 due to the local political situation. During 2005 and 2006,  LRPs / acivists also collaborated with RSDC, a partner of LLINK/Helvetas, to take forward the issue of uterine prolapse in Banke and Bardiya districts. 

Networking and Coordination

LRPs / activists, separate VDC-level networks / pressure groups on the issues of uterine prolapse and caste-based discrimination were formed in the area and were active on taking up the issues locally. 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 were linked up to national-level networks such as UP Alliance, Women for Human Rights- Single Women Group (WHR); the Dalit-focused local networks developed alliances with the Rastriya Dalit Network (RDN) and National Land Rights Forum.

Issue-Framing and Advocacy

SLP used key issues as entry points to effect wider social change. These issues were combined to comprehensively address issues of marginalisation and social discrimination.
Uterine prolapse, framed as a consequence of patriarchal oppression and the marginalisation of women, had been an entryway to tackling women’s subordination. Other cultural practices that were addressed through this issue included: early marriage, domestic violence, polygamy, menstrual untouchability (chhaupadi), violations of the rights of single women, and the denial of property rights and access to basic public health services.
The untouchability of Dalits had been used as an entryway to ending caste-based discrimination. Cultural practices addressed through this effort included: untouchablility in public places (including temples, teashops, inns and communal drinking water taps), exclusion of Dalits, unfair wages, the Haliya / Khalo system (the use of Dalits for bonded labour such as field ploughing, with limited wages only given once a year during the harvest) and denial of access to education.  
Community forestry presented an opportunity to address the needs of landless and marginalised people in the affected societies. As part of this effort, enabling non-timber forest product processing and marketing helped to ensure access to and control over natural resources for marginalised groups. 



  • FASTENOPFER (Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund)
  • World Population Institute, United States


  • LLINK/Helvetas
  • Public Health Concern Trust Nepal (phect-Nepal)/Kathmandu Model Hospital
  • GTZ-Nepal
  • 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
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