by Adrian Bell
A pioneering scheme to combine agricultural reconstruction with education will soon get underway in Nepal, thanks to the appeal initiated by the British Guild following April’s devastating earthquakes.
Administered by the British-based charity Global Action Nepal (GAN), the project will use the funds generated by the BGAJ appeal, which will also include sums from the Irish and Australian guilds and the IFAJ, to develop a unique schools-based livestock management programme in the Lalitpur district – one of the areas very severely affected by the earthquake.
“It’s only the generosity of British Guild members and others involved in the UK farming community, plus contributions from other IFAJ members, that has made this programme possible,” says Adrian Bell, who launched the appeal after building a friendship with Annapurna Daily Post agricultural reporter Pitambar Sigdel at the IFAJ 2014 Congress.
“Those funds will be used to develop an income-generating and self-sustaining enterprise centred around small livestock, such as chickens and goats,” Adrian explains. “Investing in stock is very important in this region, owing to the poor quality of the soil. And of course, as stock breed the investment becomes self-sustaining, creating a viable long-term plan.”
FAO-led estimates from Nepal suggest that the earthquake wiped out more than a third of the country’s poultry flock and nearly one-fifth of its cattle. In some of the worst affected areas, half of all farming households lost nearly all their stored crops of cereal and grain.
The programme will develop three major types of skills: animal husbandry, technical skills such as carpentry and metalwork, and essential business skills such as basic accountancy. Profits can be invested in the school, for example new library books and other teaching materials, or returned to the stock enterprise for further growth.
“There are huge potential educational benefits to this project,” notes Chris Sowton, GAN founder, “and in a country where there’s massive youth un- and under-employment, the development of such skills is crucial.
“To our knowledge, no other school in Nepal has implemented this kind of project. If, as we fully anticipate, we can show proof of concept with this idea, then it is easily replicated in other schools”
With the agreement of the final proposal, Adrian is now keen to work with GAN to get the project underway as soon as possible. “At the time of the initial appeal back in April I know we weren’t clear about how the funds would be used. Despite that, we’ve raised nearly £5,000.
“Now that we have a viable and unique opportunity to put them to effective use, I’d appeal to our wider IFAJ ‘family’ to see if we can’t further increase that sum so that the clear benefits of this programme could be extended to more schools, and perhaps other regions within Nepal.”
Delegates attending Congress next month will have a chance to hear more about the programme from Adrian, but in the meantime he’d like to hear from any Guild who would like to contribute to the project or hear more about it.
Further details are on the GAN website here: www.nepalaction.global/schools-based-income-generation-programme