World Food Day 2018
We are working towards #ZeroHunger in the Far West of Nepal, with the help of the UK Government.
Tom has just got back from Nepal and, while there, he visited our project in Mugu that focuses on increasing food production and improving levels of nutrition. This is what he had to say…
“I’ve spent the last two weeks over in Nepal – visiting our partner organisation in Kathmandu. As well as spending time in the office I was also able to travel to the Far West to visit the communities who are involved in our UK Aid Direct funded project. I was pleased to travel to the Far West with PHASE Nepal’s Programme Managers Bikash Koirala and Sita Pandev, and Karen and Steph from Mannion Daniels who manage the funding on behalf of the UK Government Department for International Development.
Travelling to the Far West isn’t easy. After flying from Kathmandu to Nepalganj, our flight to Talcha was cancelled. With only four days to get to Mugu and back to Kathmandu, we hired a Jeep and drove 20 hours from Nepalganj to Gamgadhi. I can now truly stand by the statement that PHASE works with some of the most remote communities in the world. The roads were muddy, rocky, and in poor condition, emphasising why access to goods and services here is so difficult.
On arrival in Gamgadhi, we were met by Milan Ghimire, the District Co-ordinator in Mugu. Milan is responsible for supervising all the project staff with regular field visits and his main work focuses on mentoring front line staff and maintaining necessary contact with district and local level government agencies. We left Gamgadhi early in the morning and walked three hours to Luma. We were met by Ram Devi – Social Mobiliser, and Bikram Shahi – Agriculture Technician. These two members of staff live in the area and their role is to ensure the project runs effectively and efficiently. They work with the community to make sure the project is being delivered in a way that works and I was so impressed with the connection, communication, and rapport between the staff and the community.
Ram Devi and Sita facilitated the meeting in Luma which was attended by 40 people, including representatives from farmers groups, mothers groups and local government. Ram Sara Kami, the President of one farmers group enthusiastically demonstrated how she used to incorrectly throw seeds on her land. However, now, having received advice from PHASE, she has set up a nursery bed, uses integrated pest management techniques and follows a crop calendar to produce different types of vegetables. It was clear to me that people have gained so much knowledge already from the project, particularly on seed types, farming techniques, and the importance of diversifying crops.
For me the greatest moment from the visit was visiting Batan’s kitchen garden. In the last season she had produced and sold 60,000 rupees worth of vegetables. She was so proud of this achievement and described how this enables her daughter Mansara to go to school healthy, happy, and full of energy. This was an example of how the project is empowering people to lead healthier lives and break the cycle of poverty for the next generation.
We discussed changes in health and knowledge with Hirakala, who is a member of a PHASE supported farmers group as well as a mothers’ group. As Karen from Mannion Daniels has a background in public health she was particularly interested in this element of PHASE’s work. We were told that, prior to PHASE’s involvement, infants were not eating well and women were unable to produce milk. Hirakala told us about instances of babies dying at a very young age, but now, this is not the case. The women in the village now knew the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, a varied diet, and best practice for infant feeding.
PHASE’s work continues to empower women and tackle inequalities. Before, Jau Matikami’s husband wouldn’t allow her to take part in decisions, but this is beginning to change. Since attending PHASE led training sessions she has grown in expertise and confidence and now, she has a voice.
However, with all that has been achieved so far, there are still challenges in the area. They still lack access to clean drinking water and water for irrigation in Luma – only 68% of houses in the village have piped water access. Adult literacy, particularly for women, was also identified as an area of need. The women in the community expressed their desire to learn to read and write. PHASE are looking for additional match funding to allow this project to take place.
Overall, my trip reinforced the reality that PHASE works in some of the most remote communities in the world. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure these communities aren’t left behind.”