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28 Apr 20

Project Update: Rebuilding Communities

Covid-19 has currently put a pause to all regular project activities. However, our rebuilding communities project in Gorkha has seen significant progress over the past few months, prior to the pandemic. Here are the most recent updates from our project areas in Gorkha, project activities will resume once things start to return to normal.

Following the devastating impact of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, in 2016 the National Lottery Community Fund committed £2 million to ‘rebuilding’ projects in Nepal. In 2016 PHASE were awarded a project grant and utilised this grant to begin a 5-year rebuilding programme in the district of Gorkha. Gorkha was one of the worst affected areas, with the immense damage done by the earthquakes to critical infrastructure leaving the population at risk of extreme poverty. Key issues in Ghorka concerned low food security, lack of road access, high levels of alcoholism, under-resourced schools, and harmful traditional practices.

The past 4 years have seen PHASE progress from the initial successful phase of post-earthquake reconstruction to the implementation of an integrated programme of sustainable development across education, health and livelihoods work, helping to elicit long-term benefits for the communities in Gorkha. Approaching the middle of our 4th year of work, substantial improvements are noticeable in the community. A focus on female and economic empowerment has allowed for increased community self-sufficiency that will continue far after our project in Gorkha is completed.

PHASE’s contribution to rebuilding the education sector in Gorkha has provided fruitful results through cooperation with the local government and school management committees. PHASE has improved quality and access to education through the establishment and continuation of rural computer classes, upgrading of classroom equipment, and teacher implementation of best teaching practices. 29 computers have been provided by PHASE across Keraunja Secondary School, Ichchya Basic School and Gandaki Basic School. School children have enjoyed PHASE implemented extracurricular activities and after school clubs on Fridays: winners of activities such as speech contests, quizzes and sports competitions are rewarded with small prizes. This has been shown to promote regular school attendance and participation. Following the success of these activities, an interschool rural municipality quiz competition is also planned for January.  The children have also shown enthusiasm participating in vocational projects, such as PHASE’s pilot school gardens in Kashiguan and Keraunja. The Chairman of Keraunja has thanked PHASE for their support in helping their high school become recognized among the top 10 in the entire Gorkha district.

Healthcare provisions in Gorkha have also shown improvements. PHASE runs a public health awareness programme alongside our provision of direct clinical services. Our direct clinical services strengthen existing government health posts with PHASE trained staff, free medicine and 24-hour emergency services. Our events are widely attended; 339 community members attended a total of 15 community health education events, and 309 individuals attended a total of 6 Mothers Groups Meetings across Keraunja and Kashiguan. Further awareness activities include female community health volunteers’ meetings, school health education, immunization support programmes and door to door visits. Further workshops provided include Improved sanitation, personal hygiene, prevention of communicable diseases, and improved nutrition and immunisation workshops. Working toward the goal of improving sanitation, this quarter 10 permanent waste collection and reduction pits were constructed in Keraunja.

PHASE’s work in livelihoods has focused on economic empowerment, and this quarter we are seeing long-term sustainable benefits for the communities in Gorkha. This quarter, the 230 farmers in the breeding chicks programme were trained on coop construction, promoting self-sufficiency in the continuation of long-term breeding of chicks, which allows the farmers to both consume and sell on eggs. The monthly farmer groups, training and follow up support has been provided to 492 farmers across 50 events, with this years’ 230 new group members joining over 500 existing members receiving support. This support helps to develop farmers’ self- empowerment. The electric corn thresher machine provided last quarter has proven beneficial to the women in the village, allowing them to focus on alternative productive activities. Further Agri-Mechanization support is to be provided in the form of a Grinder Mill, which will encourage vital food diversity through the consumption of indigenous crops such as maize, wheat and millet.

In the last quarter, farmers have seen kiwi vines beginning to produce fruits and has influenced their decision to invest in kiwi saplings using capital created at the local level. This enterprise has promoted huge steps towards self-sufficiency for farmers.

An array of exciting plans are in place for next quarter, including establishing a new medicinal plant plot and scaling up one-year fruiting Australian apple-growing after a successful government trial. A youth enterprise initiative in the form of a fresh-water model fish farm is also being launched in cooperation with the local government. These new enterprises look to build on the economic empowerment, health and education progression made in the last quarter.

Approaching the end of our project timeline, we understand that continuing our positive cooperation with the local government is key for the sustainability of our projects, especially at the rural municipality level. PHASE is delighted with huge progression achieved towards self-sufficiency and economic and gender empowerment within the last quarter.

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