A road improvement project in Melamchi is one of several short-term employment opportunities initiated by UNDP to help vulnerable communities

“I was not getting any job opportunities due to lockdown, but the road improvement scheme by Melamchi Municipality has helped me earn a decent income. It’s a great relief for daily wage earners like me,” says Laxmi Sarki, a resident of the area. UNDP’s Community Infrastructure and Livelihood Recovery Programme (CILRP) recently collaborated with Melamchi Municipality to help its most vulnerable people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1.7 km improvement of Dublyang Patale earthen road in Melamchi is part of the project.

The improved road links Patale village to a market in Melamchi, and the travel time has shortened by 30 minutes.

“The concept of cash for work is very relevant in the current context,” says Kamal Bahadur Khadka, the chairperson of Melamchi, Ward 9. “Daily wage earners can earn a decent living, while the road will help people get access to the market which, in turn, will increase economic activities.”

Laxmi is one of 47 unemployed community people who have been engaged for 20 days of work in this particular improvement project; the number includes 20 women, and half of the participants are from the Dalit community. A total of 940 person-days of employment is generated through the implementation of the scheme, and its estimated cost is NPR 876,000, with 55% being contributed by the municipality.

In the first phase of the CILRP, 2000 people will get short-term employment through small-scale community and tourism infrastructure projects in 11 of the most affected municipalities in Sudurpaschim, Karnali, Gandaki, and Bagmati. The programme builds on ongoing partnerships with the government. The CILRP will provide short-term employment opportunities through projects focusing on the rehabilitation, construction, or improvement of community infrastructure, such as irrigation canals, drinking water systems, and rural roads. Up to 23 such schemes are planned, which will be implemented under the leadership of user groups from these same communities. Some of the planned activities have begun in earnest.  The Sadhikhola Virkuna irrigation project in Kakani Rural Municipality, Ward 6, started last week and is expected to engage up to 50 people, most of them farmers. The canal will irrigate 21 hectares of agricultural land (435 ropanies) directly benefiting 75 households. Similar projects have started at Palungtar Municipality in Gorkha, Melamchi Municipality and Helambu Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchowk, and Jiri Municipality in Dolakha, each engaging over 300 people.

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