Helping people help each other
As part of its efforts to help earthquake-affected communities in Nepal recover their livelihoods, UNDP’s Community Infrastructure and Livelihood Recovery Programme has been extending support to a number of cooperatives in hard-hit districts such as Nuwakot, in recognition of the role these entities play in affording members the opportunity to help each other rise out of poverty
With a view to expedite the livelihood recovery of people living in rural Nepal who were affected by the 2015 earthquakes, UNDP’s Community Infrastructure and Livelihood Recovery Programme (CILRP) has been engaged in revitalizing critical infrastructure damaged during the disaster. An important aspect of these efforts has been the support extended to cooperatives, in recognition of the role of such entities in helping members create enterprises, sell products and provide credit and finance resources, particularly in contexts where access to these services is limited to begin with.
The Ujjoltara Krishi Cooperative, located in the Nigalay village of Nuwakot’s Balkumari VDC, comprises one of CILRP’s beneficiaries in this regard. The cooperative is made up of 148 members, most of whom are Tamang women involved in cardamom farming. Following the damage wrought by the disaster, CILRP helped the cooperative to construct a two-room earthquake-resilient cardamom collection center, where cardamom is collected, dried, graded and packed for sale. A similar collection center for vegetables--the Krishijannay Uppag Sankalan Center--has also been set up with the project’s help in Kalyanpur in the district, benefitting 356 farming households. Both centers were designed with the intent to connect farmers directly to the market so as to limit the coopting of profits by middlemen.
CILRP has also extended its support to a number of all-women cooperatives—one of which is the Likhu Kiriyasil Mahila Cooperative in Nuwakot, established some years ago by a group of women from the Likhu VDC with the objective of uplifting the economic status of women in the village via agriculture. In this vein, the cooperative distributes seeds, pesticides and vitamins to farmers at minimal rates, alongside conducting a range of agro-trainings, geared at not just developing skills but also empowering women by increasing their access to finance and decision-making. CILRP had supported the cooperative in the reconstruction of their office building—damaged in the quake—now housed in an earthquake-resilient, well-furnished stone-masonry structure that functions as an office space, training center and agriculture store, among other purposes.
Another women-oriented cooperative that has received CILRP’s assistance in rehabilitating its premises is the Srijana Mahila Krishi Sahakari Sanstha in Manakamana VDC. The group had been involved in a range of livelihood-improvement activities, including savings and credit, distribution of agricultural inputs, conducting trainings as well as running a shop for the village—all of which had been hampered when the building was hit in the quake. With CILRP’s help however, the cooperative has been able to resume its work of supporting their 217 members in their agricultural endeavors.
Further examples abound: There is, for instance, the Milan Mahila Krishi Cooperative in Tuptche, also in Nuwakot. The body covers six wards in the VDC, and has over 200 members, who benefit from the distribution of seeds and other farming essentials at affordable rates, as well as the trainings that are held on occasion to teach the member farmers the basics of marketing their wares. And catering to a comparatively larger membership is the Janajirti Krishi Cooperative in Bhadratar whose milk and vegetable collection center, built with CILRP support, has enabled users to raise incomes derived from agriculture and cattle-farming. The list also includes the Aapasi Sahyog Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Salang, Dhading, which received CILRP help in establishing a building that could be used either as a collection center, trainings or a range of other activities.
With funding from the Government of Mauritius, the International Medical Corps and the Bridge Head Foundation, CILRP restored or constructed over 150 infrastructures in five earthquake-affected districts: Dolakha, Kavre, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk.