Bert Smit recently visited Nepal with two ADRA-UK trustees.
Report as told to: Catherine Boldeau, Development and Education Officer
We are in the Terai area of Nepal: the flat, lush green land that borders India in the south. We walk along a path next to a field filled with plants and trees that will soon be fodder for the animals. Ahead is a village to which women welcome us with flowers and a resounding ‘Namaste!’ The original meaning of this greeting is, ‘I bow to the divine in you’, and we are humbled by their enthusiasm and happiness. We sit down and the women take turns to introduce themselves: they are members of a new co-operative established with the help of ADRA as part of the ELIVES livelihood programme that is impacting the lives of 30,000 farmers and their families in this part of Nepal. Most of the beneficiaries are women.
ADRA-UK trustees, Jennifer Phillips and Steve Logan, visited Nepal between 8 and 15 October to monitor this DFID co-funded project that will end in March 2018. The women tell us how, thanks to ADRA, their lives have changed: harvests have become plentiful; goat-keeping has become profitable; co-operatives are linked to markets; and incomes have increased, often dramatically.
During our three-day visit this success story is repeated over and over again. While impressive results have been achieved, devastating floods in August killed over 50 people, displaced 100,000 and damaged over 40,000 homes. The floods hit at one of the worst possible times, destroying many recently-planted rice crops in Nepal’s most important agricultural region. Some of our project beneficiaries have been affected too, losing their harvests and livelihoods. Jennifer and Steve witnessed the devastating effects caused when rivers suddenly ripped through communities, sweeping houses away as they did so.
The ADRA network responded immediately with funding to assist 600 households with shelter, food and hygiene kits. During the visit it was clear that although some farmers had lost one crop their resilience was such that they bounced back and have planted for the next harvest. We are glad that, thanks to proper planning and training, most farmers in the ELIVES project will be able to continue their development progress.
The trustees visited nine communities scattered around the Terai to listen to stories from beneficiaries. The project has targeted predominantly women who were empowered to farm their own land and establish co-operatives linked to markets. The results are encouraging, with many telling us that they have escaped poverty, are earning an income and have been able to send their children back to school.
Empowering communities. Changing lives. This is your ADRA!