Growing Change in Nepal
WACN - Nepal - Local Economies
Photo: Jan Stürmann
Like many rural Nepalese women, Ganga Thapa lived a life of subsistence farming. Ganga tired of never having enough food for her three children. She wanted more for her family. IDEX met Ganga on a field visit to Nepal and found out how she had changed her life.
Making Ends Meet
Just a few years ago, her family’s situation was bleak. Ganga and her husband had inherited their home and a small plot of land where Ganga grew vegetables. But their home had a mud-floor, a leaking roof, and Ganga could not carry enough water to keep her plants alive. Her husband had few opportunities for employment so the vegetables were the family’s only source of food and income.
To buy food and to send her children to school, Ganga would go to moneylenders where she would use her only valuable possession for collateral, a single gold earring. She would be charged a rate of 20% on a loan of $50.
Joining the Local Cooperative
Madavi, a neighbor, was a member of a local cooperative started by Women’s Awareness Center Nepal (WACN), an IDEX partner organization. Madavi’s role was to be a ‘motivator’. She would encourage women, give guidance, and offer support to help them overcome obstacles in the way of joining the cooperative.
With guidance from a technician, Ganga was able to install a water tank.
The cooperative offers a forum for women to share their experiences and solutions. It encourages women to save money and to use this capital to support each other in small business ventures. They also save for their children’s education, as well as emergencies. The loans are at lower interest rates than the local moneylender and no collateral is needed.
Ganga wanted to join, but feared her husband would object, a common reaction in many rural, patriarchal communities. But with Madavi’s support, Ganga talked to her husband and convinced him that they could improve the family’s income if she joined the group.
She began to save 50 Nepalese Rupees, around $0.80 each month. After six months she took a loan of $80 to buy goats. Ganga repaid her loan. During that time, she was identified as a lead farmer by her group, and received training on sustainable farming techniques. Ganga borrowed another $80 to grow cauliflower, build a compost shed, and a cow stable.
Helpful Changes Became Possible
With her profits she replaced their leaking tile roof with a more sturdy tin roof. She earned enough to build an outhouse for the family to use – a small luxury in rural Nepal.
Water was still a big challenge. Without easy access she was limited in the crops she could grow. She would make multiple trips each day to the local water source, a mile away, but her plants still withered. To help women like Ganga, WACN staff developed a low-cost way to build tanks using local materials, primarily concrete and sand. Each family needed to contribute a small fee plus their labor.
A Bright Future
With guidance from a WACN technician, Ganga was able to install a water tank. And while it originally was intended only for irrigation, (thanks to an innovation by Ganga’s group) she has two spouts – one to feed the irrigation system, and another for household use.
Her crops grew well with the extra water and Ganga was able to make a good profit. She uses the extra income to pay for her children’s education. And a neighbor of theirs, a poultry farmer, recently hired Ganga’s husband to care for her chickens. Ganga says that she and her husband no longer quarrel. For Ganga and her family, life is getting better.
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