Mahila Musings: Nepal, Part 2

In Part 1 of our video series, Mahila Partnership President, Angela Devlen introduced Sabita, our now long-time partner and team leader in Nepal. Due the status of women and children in Nepal, Sabita is a strong health, nutrition and disaster risk reduction advocate. She has experienced first-hand the impacts of reoccurring landslides in the areas where she works due to the steep mountainous terrain, poor vegetation and annual monsoons.

Mahila’s shared interest in health and disaster risk reduction led to our joint effort to establish an organic farming project in 2009. The goal was to both improve the vegetation to reduce the risk of landslides and improve the health status of the villages where we work.

Together, Eco Organic Nepal and Mahila Partnership funded and organized an organic agriculture project in Panchkhal and Chamrangbesi, where women learned about organic farming and how to establish greenhouses. This provided healthy and organic off-season produce and any excess produce that was not used by the village was available to sell at local markets, creating sustainable economic opportunities.

However, the 2015 earthquakes caused major damage to not only the agricultural sites, but to the lives and livelihood of the women we work with. Many remain living in tents and plastic-tarp covered tin shacks as they wait for their country’s political and structural infrastructure to recover. Recovery has been complicated by political unrest, fuel shortages, and lack of basic infrastructure, magnifying barriers that prevent access to resources needed to rebuild their lives.

Nonetheless, as we help them recover, we are committed to restoring our organic farming project as well as launch our eco-hygiene program. We will continue to work towards overcoming these barriers and help Sabita and the women we work with get the resources they need.   Through nutrition and hygiene, pursued through economically sustainable avenues, Mahila provides an opportunity to empower communities to lead their own recovery. Our model of sustainable investment and partnership keeps the financial exchange in the hands of local women, supporting local needs.

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Comment Below (please leave your opinions below in the comments section):

“Do you believe it is possible to produce better outcomes than previously existed before the disaster through sustainable recovery?”


Comments 1

  1. “Do you believe it is possible to produce better outcomes than previously existed before the disaster through sustainable recovery?”

    Honestly, I really believe this to be true. When dealing with recovery, it can be easy to focus on the urgent action items. However, when rushing into a response with ‘band-aids’ to the situation, you run the risk of leaking money. Sending Western volunteers (and accommodating, feeding, and transporting them), collecting and sending items through the mail or shipping containers, or even just sending bottled water – you disrupt the local ecosystem, artificially inflate the local economy, and risk trampling local culture.

    By facilitating local partners to lead recoveries that are designed to be sustainable, it complete two goals with one project: you provide aid and recovery through times of crisis, as well as creating a sustainable and better environment for the community members to maintain in the long run. By designing for sustainability – and this can be done by experts in the field to reduce time/money waste – you allow the individuals who have been affected to take control of their recovery, inform what is needed most, procure items locally at the local exchange rate (USD to NPR for example), and in some cases, actually employ individuals locally to sustainably heal the economy.

    All of this takes thought and planning, while focusing on the IMPORTANT aspects of recovery (long-term, sustainability, quality of life, maintenance required, culture appropriateness, etc), rather than jumping to satisfy what appears urgent.

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