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Stories from the Field: Empowering Rural Women

Text: Kaushal Man Shrestha

Photos: © IFAD, Kaushal Shrestha

Ram Piyari Ghorsaine

Social Mobiliser, Kavre, LFLP

In hope of supporting better lives, for themselves and their families, around 1000 Nepali men travel abroad for work every single day. While some return with fulfilled hopes, many returnees are not as fortunate. But what is actually unfortunate is that a certain number simply don’t return. According to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board of Nepal, 726 Nepali migrant workers died in 2012.

When Ram Piyari’s second son was just two years old, her husband borrowed NPR 150,000 to travel to Qatar for work. With a reasonable income of a security guard, he regularly sent home some money as well as promises.

“But I had never expected what happened,” said Ram Piyari. “After just 10 months, there was an accident, and his body came back in a box,” she solemnly recalls.

“We hadn’t even repaid the loan at the time.”

While she was receiving some support from development programmes in her village in Kavre, it was not enough. She would have to do more if she were to support her family and repay the pending loans at the same time. Their conditions were worsening each day. And it was at this low point that she reached out to the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme (LFLP), applying for the post of a social mobiliser.

“I studied all night for the job test and interview, about forests and grass,” Ram Piyari said. “I also went through my mathematics notes from eighth standard,” she added.

Though LFLP is largely a community-based forest management programme that helps poor rural households access degraded land to generate income from forest products and livestock, social inclusivity and gender sensitivity is central to its objectives. To empower rural women, the programme holds several workshops on leadership and good governance for rural women, and also prioritises disadvantaged women for various positions, especially for social mobilisation. Thus, considering Ram Piyari’s dedication as well as need, she was offered the job. 

Following trainings, workshops and several assignments, Ram Piyari has emerged as an independent woman and a leader in her village. With her salary as a social mobiliser, and earnings from vegetable and goat farming, Ram Piyari has repaid the loans entirely. Furthermore, she is not only supporting her own family, she is also supporting community development in her village. As a social mobiliser, Ram Piyari holds several community meetings, assists group members in savings management, takes issues to the district, and acts as a crucial bridge between the policy makers and the rural poor.

This year, Ram Piyari is hoping to enrol her children in a reputable private school in a nearby town. She is also studying to apply for civil service jobs under the Government of Nepal.   

Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme (LFLP, 2005-2013)

Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme, funded by IFAD and implemented under the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, is a community-based forest management project through which poor and food insecure households are provided degraded forestland on a 40-years renewable lease to generate income from forest products and livestock.

Specifically, the programme’s objectives are to:  i) improve household forage and tree crop production; ii) improve household production of livestock, especially goats, iii) provide access to microfinance services, and iv) support the government's capacity to implement leasehold forestry in a gender sensitive way.

Bala Ram Adhikari, Programme Coordinator

Leasehold Forestry Section, Department of Forest, Kathmandu

+977 1 4257870 | lflp@wlink.com.np

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