It is with both appreciation and sadness that MCC phases out of the community development efforts we’ve supported in Okhaldhunga District through various partners since 2010. This year we are especially grateful for our partner, SAHAS Nepal, whose food security and livelihoods work in Okhaldhunga we have had the privilege of supporting for the past seven years, thanks to our funding partner, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).
SAHAS has built the capacity of 6 networks of community-based organizations (CBOs) to strategically mobilize 80 CBOs throughout Okhaldhunga, directly impacting over 8,000 people. SAHAS’s approach of building the capacity of CBO networks ensures that the impacts of the project are sustainable, linked to government services, and motivated through grassroots organizing. Furthermore, CBOs give group members the opportunity to save funds and access revolving loans.
During the last 3 years of implementing the Nutrition and Food Security Improvement Project (NFSIP), 864 people were trained in nutrition, 594 trained in vegetable cultivation (of which the most under-resourced received inputs for improved production), and 597 trained in and received inputs for livestock production. As a result, the percentage of households now able to eat at least 2 complete meals a day has increased from 7% to 56%, average annual income from agricultural activities increased by over 500%, and 24% of group members are reinvesting the profit they’ve earned into their agro-businesses.
Kamal Singh Rai’s story demonstrates the transformative impact the NFSIP project has had on the lives of farmers in Okhaldhunga. Kamal, a 45-year old from Manebhangyang Rural Municipality, owns 9 ropanis of land. However, the land is steep and was insufficient to feed his wife and 3 children for more than 4 months a year. Reluctantly, Kamal risked his own life to feed his family by working at a coal mine in India, cutting 30 feet below ground for months at a time. Still, the wages from this work were only sufficient to feed his family for 6 months. In search of a better opportunity, Kamal worked in Saudia Arabia from 2004-2014, sadly returning home a decade later after the sudden death of his wife. With the full responsibility of raising his daughters and son now weighing on his shoulders, he did masonry work to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, in June 2015, a farmers group was formed in Kamal’s village by PRS Nepal, a CBO network supported by SAHAS. Kamal decided to become a member. In 2017 the group started receiving trainings and support through the NFSIP project. With an improved understanding of vegetable cultivation, livestock management, soil management and market linkages, alongside inputs for setting up a greenhouse and drip irrigation system, Kamal began cultivating off-season vegetables and replacing portions of his land with high-value crops.
Despite many challenges and setbacks, Kamal worked hard. With the technical support of PRS and SAHAS staff, he is now earning 70,000 to 105,000 rupees a year from his commercial vegetable and livestock production efforts. This income has allowed him to reinvest in purchasing another greenhouse, and pay for his family’s food, health care and education needs.
Kamal shares, “Being a father, it is my responsibility to give a quality education to my children and make their future bright. I’m proud to invest my income in my children’s future!”