Heifer International Nepal
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Reviving local economy - Narmaya

At their 50s, Narmaya and her husband Khem Bhadur Thapa were ready to begin a new life in the city. She shared, “My son has been working in Qatar for 2 years now. His wife and two sons are living in the city now. It is just us two here.” They had already sold their ancestral land and were ready to move. But the couple had a change of heart at the last minute.

Heifer Nepal began implementation of its project “Evaluating the Welfare Impact of a Livestock Transfer Program in Nepal” in May 2014. The research based project seeks to unravel importance of physical assets relative to human and social capital in increasing resiliency and improving nutritional and economic outcomes. The project tests hypothesis that social capital augments welfare impacts of livestock of livestock transfer. When women from Narmaya’s village formed Self Help Groups, she decided to join in too.

Narmaya’s group comprises of 32 women members. The group received various social and technical trainings inorder to build their farm capacity and strengthen solidarity. The group is now active in various socio-economic activities and is gaining a lot of recognition in the village. For instance the members take turns to help one another in their farms, they organize village cleaning campaigns, free health camps, go to help when there is a marriage or a death in a family and so on. The group has been able to unify their community by supporting each other and being a part of one another's social and cultural events in a deeply divided society that follows hierarchical caste system. They have started also started a group fund where they collect individual savings on a monthly basis. The amount collected is used as a source for accessing credit at affordable rates. In order to raise this fund, the group has also invested NPR 60,000 (approx. USD 600) in tomato tunnel farming. Soon they will be able to sell the tomatoes and add to their incomes.

The group has become a way of life for the families in Pathardi village, a rural hill village in Tanahu district. Narmaya shares, “This is home. I have a life here. I know everyone and they know me too. I know that they will support me when I need and I will do the same for them.” That is why the couple decided to stay back at their village and now are planning to buy back their ancestral land.

After receiving training on Improved Animal management and Fodder/forage management from the project, they decided to scale up their goat farm. They have built an improved goat shed investing NPR 550,000 (approx. USD 5500) and have planted fodder/forage in sloppy and empty land.

The couple has been learning how to keep records of their expenses and income from goats. She adds, “We didn’t understand profit or loss before. I would sell a goat at NPR 10,000 but now even a small goat goes for NPR 12,000 easily.” They earned NPR 257,430 (approx. USD 2570) by selling 26 goats this year. They still have 36 healthy goats with them.

With increased goat production, the traders have started coming to village on trucks. Narmaya and her group members collect their goats in a place where they are weighed and sold at a fixed price.

A group member shares, “A lot has changed since Heifer’s project came to our village. We have learned many things that are benefitting us. We have invested a lot of our time and resources to build sheds, plant fodder and take care of our goats. So, I think the project’s impact will continue for long, even after it phases out.”

Narmaya and her group members are helping to keep alive the village. When most of the people chose to leave for foreign employment or move to the city for menial jobs, she and her husband have chosen to stay behind and invest in their own village, contributing to strengthen its rural economy.

By Alina Karki, Communication Officer