Project lists

Supporting Community Based Sustainable Forest Management and Economic Empowerment of Women in Central Region of Nepal
25 Feb 2020     

Empowering Women in Nepal

 

Project Title

Supporting community based sustainable forest management and economic empowerment of Women in Central Region of Nepal(2013P4-NPL)

Executive agency

Consurtium (HIMAWANTI/Ashmita/CRMC)

Project duration

10/2014-3/2018

APFNet grant

USD 412,238

Project Economy

Nepal

Project Site

Central Nepal

1. Kathmandu

2. Makwanpur

3. Sarlahi

 

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Women throughout the world, but especially in developing countries have long been led to believe that they don’t have any power. However, as Alice Walker, a famous novelist, once said: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

 

Empowering rural women to take ownership of their lives, improve their own livelihoods and enable them to learn new skills is an internationally recognized goal captured in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

In Nepal women are strongly dependent on community forests for their livelihoods, however opposed to men they use the forest primarily for satisfying subsistence needs rather than commercial activities that would lead to greater economic independence.

Thus in Kathmandu, Makwanpur and Sarlahi district, central Nepal, together with the Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAWANTI) and the Nepal Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, APFNet has taken on the challenge to empower local women by teaching them how to sustainably manage their community forests while also developing new handicraft enterprises and promoting eco-tourism.

 

Managing Forests Sustainably

Proper forest management, especially of community forests, requires a lot of knowledge and skills, which are often lacking in local communities. Even more frequently “heavy” forest management, such as thinning or planting trees often falls to men, so that women have limited involvement in forest management. Throughout the project, members of local communities, with a majority of women, were taught how to develop forest management plans (FMPs), establish nurseries and manage forests.

FMPs were developed for 13 community forest user groups (CFUGs) and based on field surveys and stakeholder discussions regarding the goals for their forests. Those plans were upon completion endorsed by the District Forest Offices.

Additionally, three nurseries were established which focused on rearing fast-growing trees, but also species that can be of medicinal use or provide food. Some of the species grown include Eucalyptus spp., Tectona grandis, Phyllanthus emblica, Shorea robusta, Aegle marmelus and Syzygium cumini.

Finally, key to managing forests sustainably is removing timber with causing as little impact as possible. Thus, 130 people were trained on low-impact harvesting and considerations during logging specifically for women. On the established demonstration plots weeding, pruning and a “3D extraction” (of dead, decayed and diseased trees) were conducted as well.

 

Getting women into business

Empowering women also means to empower them economically. Getting women into business not only leads to a higher income, but helps them to acquire new skills sets that make them more independent and with which they can support their families.

In this project the women in different regions of Nepal learned three different ways so improve their livelihoods: wooden handicraft making, aromatic herb enterprises, and earning money through eco-tourism.

 

 

“Now, neighbors call me entrepreneur’”

Sarita Lama is a 38-year-old married woman, a mother of 2 sons and a daughter, and now also a member of a handicraft microenterprise in Makwanpur, Central Nepal. After sending their children to school, she goes to the Piple Pakha Community Forest User Group to make wooden handicrafts, something she has now been doing for 2 years.

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Fig.1 Sarita Lama showing some of the frames she made

 

She recalls that previously she made a living carrying brick which was extremely exhausting and bad for her health. Although she worked very hard every day, the resulting income was low and it was still very difficult to afford her children’s education.

However, two years ago, she was selected for wooden handicraft training, the first round of 6 months of basic training. Because she wanted to learn new skills and improve her economic condition she joined Piple Pokhara Community Forestry for the training, which she completed six months later, specializing in producing wooden frames. Soon she realized she could go even further if she underwent the 5-month long advanced training, which due to the devotion and strong work ethic she showed she was selected for. While she could have started a business on her own she felt more comfortable doing it together with a group. In their group tasks are shared, so that some people are responsible for different tasks. Sarita did a variety of jobs during her time in the CFUG, such as helping to cut logs, making drafts and choosing the design of the frame based on the specifications of the customer. In the picture different wooden frames, having a “love” theme or showing the map of Nepal etc, can be seen, all of which she and her group produced. Frames are not sold individually but through the CFUG and the earned income goes into a group bank account, where they then distribute the earned money to all members.

One of Sarita’s proudest achievements is a handicraft she made that was also chosen to be exhibited during the World Wood Day in 2015. 

 

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