A water tap has changed the life of a girl in Sudal VDC of Bhaktapur. Sunita, 12, no longer needs to go on a long walk to fetch a bucket of water. She uses the time saved to study and play. Clean water from the tap also promises better health for her family members.
The drinking water project, constructed with support from the World Vision International Nepal’s (WVIN) Bhaktapur Area Development Program caters to 532 households in Sudal Village Development Committee, 13 kilometers east of Nepal’s capital city.
Far away to the west, women of Chetanshil Mothers’ Group at Talchaur of the Chandanpur Village Development Committee in Jumla district, have a reason to rejoice over the change in their livelihoods brought about by off-season vegetables. By selling vegetables, women in the village, which is 500 kilometers in the northwest of Kathmandu, are generating money to support their children’s education. In a food deficit district of the mid-western hills, these women grow and sell off-season vegetables to buy stuff like rice and cooking oil. Better availability of food has promised to make their children healthier.
Asmita Sardar and her family, in Madesha Village Development Committee of Sunsari district of the terai, are proud about having a toilet in their home. The 8-year old girl feels her dignity and prestige were enhanced by the toilet, which indirectly reduces the annual health bill for the family as well. Diarrhea, typhoid and other water-borne diseases, attributed earlier to the open defecation practice, are now things of the past for the backward and poverty-stricken Madesha villagers as they all have access to toilets at home.
WVIN’s Sunsari Area Development Program has supported construction of 304 water hand pumps and 4,793 household toilets. Under the program, it conducted arsenic test on 2,126 tube wells, established five compost chambers for making fertilizers, sought to raise awareness about proper sanitation and the importance of tree planting through social mobilization of women, among other cleaning campaigns. ADP program also helped declare 13 villages in seven VDC’s as Open Defection Free Zones.
From poverty-stricken, remote, hilly village of Jumla to the Madheshi community in the plains, WVIN’s program has helped uplift the life of poor dalits.
The story of Chisa B.K, mother of four, goes to show how the program works. Five years ago, Chisa’s husband abandoned her and their four children for another woman. Her life became hard.
However, the women’s saving and credit group of her village, run under WVIN’s Lamjung Area Development Program’s micro finance activities, made several things possible in her life. After she joined the group, she got a loan to buy a buffalo. She sold milk and changed her fortune.Depositing just a hundred rupees in membership fees, Chilsa maximized the utility of the loan she received from the group. With income multiplying, she now owns a small piece of land she bought at Sundar Bazar VDC of Lamjung where she built a two-room house for her children and herself.
When 5-year old Paro and 3-year old Parbati were admitted to Early Childhood Development (ECD) center at Lakhantari VDC of Morang district, 600 kilometers southeast of the capital, they were suffering from malnutrition. By eating the food provided by the center over time, they came back on their good health.
“As children of the Mushhar community, without regular income and land, they did not have enough food to eat and were weak,” said Fulsariya Majhi, facilitator of the center. In 2010, WVIN’s Morang Area Development Program supported many young children like Paro and Prabin in 17 ECDs in the district.
WVIN has been supporting various development programs in Nepal from Morang in the east to Jumla in the mid-west to Kailali in the far west, helping the poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities.
The programs are aimed at addressing the most worrying indicators, malnutrition and sanitation, among the communities. Every second child under five (49%) in Nepal is stunted or has a low height for age; a result of chronic undernourishment. Over half of Nepal's children between the ages 0-17 years have no access to a toilet of any kind.
Investing in children's well-being is not only a social and moral imperative, it is an economically sound investment strategy for the future. Poverty is more than insufficient income for meeting consumption needs. Whether a child lives in poverty depends on access to public goods and services such as safe water, health care, education and protection from risks associated with physical work and abuse.
Diseases caused by unclean water and bad sanitation are responsible for 70 deaths per day of children under five: According to WHO it is estimated that diarrheal disease and Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) account for 18% of deaths among children under five years. Recent calculations by WHO estimate about 13,000 children under five years die each year in Nepal from diarrheal diseases and a further 13,000 from ARI.
Despite improved enrolment rates, 723,000 children (9.5%), predominantly from marginalized groups, still lack access to education. Social exclusion barriers due to caste, ethnicity and language play a major role in spreading the rewards of education equitably.
In its decade long presence in Nepal, WVIN launched many projects to uplift the marginalized and poor people of Nepal. Along with these cases of five districts, at present WVIN is operational in 12 districts of Nepal focusing on improving children’s well-being through child-focused programs. It has been supporting programs for development, disaster management and the promotion of social justice.
“Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of poverty. World Vision works with each partner community to ensure that children enjoy improved nutrition, health and education,” writes Trihadi Saptoadi, Regional Leader World Vision South Asia and Pacific in his message for the tenth year celebration of World Vision in Nepal. “World Vision carries a hope for the children of Nepal with a vision ‘ for every child life in all its fullness , for every heart, the will to make it so’ . Together with our community partners, I am glad to share that we have witnessed modest success in realizing this vision for many children in Nepal. Many have gone back to school. Many have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Many are immunized and well-nourished. Many are well cared for by families with increased incomes. Many are empowered with a voice. There are many success stories and the communities are testimony to the transformational development work that is bringing hope to the lives of children in many village development committee across Nepal,” adds Saptoadi in his message.
World Vision started its development initiatives in Nepal in 1982 by donating funds to local groups for building hospitals and providing health care. In response to the 1988 earthquake, World Vision helped local non-governmental organizations in providing assistance to the people affected. Similarly, in 1993, World Vision helped people affected by the floods through local partners.
According to World Vision’s Annual Review of 2010, World Vision International Nepal, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with the children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice, formally started its long term development work in Nepal after signing both general and project agreements with the Social Welfare Council in 2001.
WVIN has also introduced the Integrated Programming Model in its working ADPs, a model that equips World Vision local –level staff to work effectively with partners toward the sustained well-being of children within families and communities- especially the most vulnerable This has helped it to reach out to large numbers of poor and marginalized population and children in different parts of Nepal.
In 2010, WVIN served 239,782 people through its community development, relief and advocacy program. WVIN’s country strategy (2010-2013) has a goal to empower vulnerable children, their families, and communities in Nepal to improve their quality of life in dignity and peace. The strategy has identified three key sectors where it might serve, namely Maternal Child Health and Nutrition, Education, and Livelihood, two contextual sectors, namely water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and HIV and AIDS with child protection as a major cross cutting thing.
Introduced in 2007, advocacy is another important area of the WVIN’s work which aims to improve the lives of children by influencing government policies and the allocation of resources for social and economic activities that benefit the poor. Under this, it supported networks and coalitions ensuring child rights in the new constitution of Nepal, established links with government units and developed a framework for Child Friendly Local Governance in collaboration with UNICEF. Working with coalitions such as Children as Zone of Peace and Child Protection (CZOPP) and the Consortium of Organizations Working for Children’s Participation, other NGOs, and UN agencies, the organization aimed to give children a voice and encouraged their participation in the drafting of the new constitution in Nepal. In addition this, WVIN worked closely with above mentioned bodies in protecting and promoting child rights in Nepal.
WVIN’s work in the area of Humanitarian Emergency Affairs has significantly contributed to disaster risk-reduction and preparedness activities in all of its ADPs and timely responses to major disasters in Nepal. In 2007, WVIN responded to the monsoon floods in Saptari helping thousands of displaced population in 12 VDCs. In August 2008, WVIN was amongst the first to respond with food and non-food items when Saptakoshi river, one of the largest river, broke its embankment and started flowing directly to villages and destroying crops and displacing thousands of people. The organization continued with recovery and rehabilitation for a period of more than two years in the months that followed focusing on three flood affected VDCs namely Haripur, Sripur and Paschim Kushaha.
“Getting the opportunity to observe the 10 years work in Nepal gives me immense pleasure as well as hope. I hope that WVIN in future will have increased opportunities to work for the betterment of vulnerable communities focusing on children. WVIN has revised its strategy and now we have put systems and structures in place to forward the development, advocacy and relief work in Nepal. ”shares Michael Frank, National Director-World Vision International Nepal in WVIN’s Annual Review 2010.
Appreciating the role of INGOs like World Vision International Nepal, Social Welfare Council(SWC) in its evaluation report (for FY 2006-2010) has observed that the overall impact of WVIN’s project in the community was found to be effective. “Stakeholders have appreciated WVIN’s activities in education, child clubs, livelihood, health, sanitation, nutrition and ECCD,” writes SWC in its report.
“World Vision International Nepal has made a great contribution to Nepal’s development programs carrying out various programs. WVIN’s Area Development Program is a successful model for Nepal,” says Chhewang Lama Sherpa, member secretary of Social Welfare Council.
Children are assets
Nepal's most valuable resource is its young people. According to the state of children in Nepal (2011), prepared by the CCWB on the basis of preliminary data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the under-14 population in the country is 9,968,489—4,837,083 females and 5,131,406 males.
“Political instability, inadequate budget and geographical barriers are the main causes of the lack of guarantee of child rights in the country. So the government should introduce programs that can meet these challenges. We also need the support from civil society organization like INGOs,” Dharma Raj Shrestha, executive director of the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB).The 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (2011 NDHS) revealed that Nepal needs to take many steps to improve the living conditions of children. It will remain so for the next 20-25 years.
Although WVIN’s programs are small, what they have shown is the children of today are the foundation of tomorrow, they must be equipped to reach their full potential. One of the key focus of WVIN’s work is placing children at the forefront of national development.