Tuesday, April 25, 2017

RMSA donation to Nepal Appeal brings results (April 2017)

A financial donation by Rural Media South Australia to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal in 2015 has assisted in the process of resurrecting that country’s agricultural sector.

RMSA’s contribution was made as part of an initiative developed by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and facilitated in this country by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists. Initial results of the donation included a school agricultural training centre, providing potential to create a long-term legacy for the rural sector of Nepal.

While nearly 80% of Nepal’s population depended upon subsistence farming for their livelihoods, the country’s agricultural industry was devastated by the earthquake. Investment in agriculture, enabling people to farm successfully again, was one of the main objectives of the fundraising project.

The project supported by RMSA’s donation looked at two principal areas of assistance.

The first was an income generation and skills-learning programme for the Triratna community school in the Lalitpur region. This provided pupils with the basic agricultural skills and knowledge that would allow them to gain meaningful employment after completion of their schooling.

Using empty land at the school premises, a kitchen garden was created and a range of vegetables grown. These were used in the school’s ‘home stay’, run by the cooperative to generate income for local social work and were also sold to school staff and parents. The profits funded further school projects.

A second project focused on microcredit, also in the Lalitpur region. Laligurnas Mahila Samuha was a women’s group in Thulopukhari that had just begun to invest in agriculture by saving a small amount of money within their group. Each member had been saving 100 rupees (about $1.36) per person per month, the plan being to pool these amounts and distribute the sum as loans.

However, with a top-up loan from the fundraising appeal, twelve women in the group were each able to initiate their own farming project, ranging from raising goats, pigs, or poultry, to growing vegetables or tomatoes. To date, the group has not only been able to save money in buying less food from the market, but they have also been able to sell their excess products. As part of the funding conditions, the money raised from these sales also allowed their children to go to school, ensuring the children’s long term education.

Clearing the land at Triratna school

Maya Nepali, with her family and the goats she bought using the microcredit loan