According to the recent Multidimensional Poverty Index Report, which was published by the Government of Nepal, the Karnali District in the Far West is home to the highest number of people living in poverty in Nepal. It states that nearly 40% of people in the region are classified as living in poverty, more than five times higher than that of the Bagmati Province in the east of the country. Mugu is situated in the northern region of the Karnali province and is one of the most remote and isolated districts in Nepal. Due to the region’s limited road network, mountainous terrain and unpredictable climate, agricultural production is difficult and as a result, many people living in Mugu suffer from malnutrition.
Since 2018, PHASE has been delivering an FCDO funded project in Mugu that has been committed to addressing causes of malnutrition in the region. At the end of June 2021, this project came to an end and despite the challenges experienced over the past few months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are delighted to see the positive impact our work has had.
The final few months of the project were impacted significantly by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as the isolated and remote communities in the Far West of the country were battling the harsh, second wave of the virus. Despite widespread lockdowns and mobility restrictions, the PHASE Nepal team continued to provide support to communities in Mugu, whilst adhering to all appropriate safely regulations and social distancing measures.
At the outset of the project, the aim was to provide direct support to 800 individuals in the Mugu district, however PHASE was able to surpass this target and provide agricultural and nutritional support to 1,024 people. At the beginning of 2021, agricultural and kitchen garden training was provided to all 1,024 farmers, with 180 people receiving additional materials and tools for mushroom cultivation. To ensure that the farmers would be able to continue successful agricultural production after the project finished, 150 farmers were supported in replacing their polytunnels and were also provided with additional garden water pipes.
Over the past three years, the project has resulted in the development of three plastic water collection ponds, improving access to suitable irrigation for agricultural use across the region. During the past few months, PHASE technicians were able to connect these ponds directly to the farmers vegetable farms, ensuring their land has a constant supply of water throughout the tough, dry months.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in Nepal, providing support to pregnant and lactating women was challenging. However, by adhering to strict Covid prevention protocols, the PHASE Nepal health workers were able to conduct door to door visits to provide nutritional advice to 771 people, 538 of whom were women. Despite mobility restrictions in the area, over the past few months 20 women visited PHASE health posts for antenatal care check-ups and six super flour workshops were conducted, attended by 76 people. Throughout this final quarter, 20 mother’s group meetings were conducted, attended by 281 women and one Female Community Health Volunteer workshop was held, reaching 23 FCHVs.
The farmers involved in this project will be able to carry forward the skills and knowledge gained over the past three years to continue producing nutritious food, all year round. Furthermore, the nutritional workshops and super flour training provided to women across Mugu will ensure that mothers have the ability and confidence to provide healthy food for their children.
Due to the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, delivering this project safely and successfully has been challenging, but despite the difficulties encountered over the past 12 months, the PHASE Nepal team have admirably continued to provide vital support to countless vulnerable people. We are proud and delighted to see the positive impact that PHASE has made on these communities and we are confident that although this project has now come to an end, many people will now be far better equipped to provide themselves and their families with healthy, nutritious food, long into the future.
PHASE is currently in the process of conducting an external evaluation of the project. We look forward to sharing full results later in the year to demonstrate our impact and outcomes of the project.