Becoming organised to fight poverty
June 2010; The Fewa community organisation (CO) of Sarangkot village in Kaski district comprising 63 members (38 males and 25 females) is today a self sustaining organisation today with a credit capital of Rs.140, 000 generated from their own monthly savings. The CO has formed a 'cooperative' to support the local farmers in different aspects of their lives and there has been a significant improvement in agricultural productivity. All the households of the settlement are members of the cooperative.
Started in 2003, under the Village Development Programme component of the UNDP supported Decentralized Local Governance Support Programme (DLGSP), the community organisation in 2004 received a sum of Rs. 250,000 from the Local Development Fund and the Community Development Fund to initiate income generation activities such as vegetable farming, goat farming, bee-keeping and opening retail shops.
In the absence of elected bodies in Nepal since 2002, these community organisations with the support of DLGSP have been active and vocal in bringing about big social and economic changes in their lives.
Sita Dhakal, the manager of CO says, 'the Village Development Programme has helped to bring several positive changes in the lives of the community members through a set of initiatives.' The DLGSP initially helped them form a community organisation and all the members have been saving Rs. 50 every month in a common savings fund which gives loans to the members of the organisation on priority basis to start up any business, charging a very low rate of interest- 18 % as compared to 36 % charged by the money lenders.
The community has managed to construct a pond for irrigation purpose and a drinking water tap with seed grant support from the project.
The literate population of the village is only 67 %. The programme has helped to facilitate and coordinate various kinds of trainings on agriculture, animal farming, organic manure including some orientations on management and financial skills development. In addition, the project has provided improved seeds and manure for vegetable farming. Today, every house has a toilet and they know why drinking water has to be boiled.
The programme has helped bring people from all the castes and ethnicities together. The members say, 'When we have any problems in the village, we deal with it together.'
The UNDP governance programmes implemented by the Ministry of Local Development that started in early 90s and continued under different phases, formed over 27,000 community organisations in 880 Village Development Committees. The project closed in July 2008. The Government now is taking full ownership of the programme under a larger framework of Local Governance Community Development Programme (LGCDP), which is being implemented by the Ministry of Local Development with a broader set of donors coming in such as ADB, DFID, SDC, Norway, DANIDA, CIDA and other UN organisations.
The women members of the community now feel that they need further support to continue and expand. They want access to micro finance institutions, adopt new farming technologies and establish market linkages for their agro-products. They express their need for other skill development trainings for more income generation and orientation on HIV/AIDS.