In 2015, Nepal was hit by two devastating earthquakes. One of the areas most badly affected was Gorkha. The earthquake cut off most of Gorkha’s villages, destroyed infrastructure and left many communities vulnerable to poverty.
Following the earthquakes in 2015, the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) committed £2 million to rebuilding programmes in Nepal and PHASE Worldwide was awarded a project-based grant. In 2016 we launched a five-year community rebuilding project in Gorkha. Three years later and the project is near to starting its penultimate year.
We thought that now would be a good time to share with you, what we have completed over the last few months.
Improving access to quality education
The programme aims to provide vocational skills training to young adults and works with schools to ensure that children aren’t missing out on quality education. Whilst at school, teachers have been mentored to develop child-friendly environments and promote gender equality. Children at school have also been enrolled on public health programmes to meet challenges arising after the earthquakes.
Over the last few months, a group of around 100 adolescent girls were selected and for a series of empowerment workshops, which commenced last month. The teacher mentoring programme continues progress in 52 schools with promising results. A PHASE supported computer lab now houses nine working computers (five of which were sourced through this project).
Also of note is that the two school gardens previously set up in Kashiguan and Keraunja (two villages in Gorkha) are now being used to teach vocational agricultural skills to children. Engagement with these classes has been high, and we hope to establish more throughout Gorkha over the course of the programme.
Rebuilding public infrastructure
The earthquakes caused a significant amount of widespread damage. Power lines, roads and houses were left in ruins. As part of this project, PHASE are supporting communities to rebuild critical infrastructure. The construction of an artificial pond is nearing completing in Kashiguan. This pond will act as a new irrigation facility and will provide local farmers with a sustainable source of water all year around. All that is left to do is line the pond with tarpaulin and fill it up with water.
Improving public health awareness
In addition to providing clinical services in Gorkha, PHASE has been running a series of public health activities. These activities are designed to raise awareness of a number of public health issues including sanitation, personal hygiene, communicable diseases, nutrition, menstrual hygiene and family planning. Hundreds of events have been held across Kashiguan and Keraunja, covering topics such as super flour and village cleaning.
PHASE supported healthcare continued as usual in Kashigaun and Keraunja, accounting for a total of 30 antenatal checks, 13 safe deliveries, over 200 contraceptive interventions and over 1000 outpatient services across both communities.
Economic empowerment and food security
This project aims to develop the local economy and improve food security through the provision of vocational skills training in agriculture and the distribution of seeds and farming equipment. Ongoing farmers’ group meetings continue to impart participants with the knowledge to grow off season crops, use polytunnels and rear poultry. As well as this, farmers received technical support and guidance via interventions supported by the programme on a regular basis.
The last three months have focused specifically on building local capacity to grow potatoes. 86 farmers in Kashigaun and 68 farmers in Keraunja were provided with 13kg bags of potato seeds, to be used over the coming years. These farmers were then trained up on how to grow potatoes, developing their knowledge of field preparation, plantation techniques and pest and harvesting management. It is also important that these communities continue to produce potatoes long after the initial bags of potato seeds have been used up. To address this, seed production training days were held in Kashiguan, hosting farmers from both communities.
The programme is moving along steadily. With just over two years to go, we are beginning to see evidence of its sustainability. Over the last three months, approximately 50 farmers have bought their own poultry chicks to raise. Although the programme has previously distributed breeding chicks, the fact that farmers are buying their own demonstrates that knowledge and skills have been disseminated within these communities, implementing sustainable change.
We have just released our 2018 impact report. Do please have a read of it to find out what we have been able to achieve over the past year. For more development stories and updates, check out the rest of our blog.