KATHMANDU, Nepal – Working with local governments and farmers’ cooperatives, Heifer International has provided relief supplies to 11,000 families recovering from flooding that has ravaged Nepal’s biggest food-producing region.
The monsoon rains have submerged about 80 percent of the nation’s southern agricultural belt, washing away livestock and the recently planted rice crop. The flooding has affected more than 21,000 farming families that Heifer works with in the region.
“Although the rain has stopped and the flood waters are receding, life is still extremely challenging for families,” said Sumnima Shrestha, a spokeswoman for Heifer in Nepal. “People have to rebuild their houses, replace their livestock and replant their fields. A lot of support will be needed to help tens of thousands of families recover.”
In coordination with the government’s relief effort, Heifer has provided relief supplies to 11,000 families – about 58,500 people – in eight districts in the flood zone. The supplies have included 170,000 kilograms of rice, 15,500 kilograms of flour, 13,000 liters of cooking oil and 47,000 packets of noodles.
A key force in the flood relief effort has been farmer cooperatives that Heifer has helped establish in the region. The organizations – which can include a few hundred members to more than a 1,000 – serve as business hubs, providing veterinary care, fertilizers and financial services. They also give farmers better access to markets and greater bargaining power when negotiating prices for their crops and livestock.
When a major disaster strikes, the cooperatives can quickly mobilize to help their fellow farmers. Heifer has been working closely with 35 of the groups that are making a great impact.
“The cooperatives have taken the lead on the ground. They are farmers helping farmers,” said Neena Joshi, the director of programs for Heifer in Nepal. “They’re legally registered bodies, led by local people, and they have great connections with local government and disaster officials. They provide the best structure that assures the aid is reaching the right people.”