INGOs in Nepal: ActionAid Nepal
ActionAid Nepal is an anti-poverty, human rights-based organization established in 1982. ActionAid Nepal is a non-governmental national social justice organization rooted and working locally in different parts and regions of Nepal. It is a member of the ActionAid International Federation. ActionAid Nepal is also part of both national and global social justice movements and, other civil society networks, alliances, and coalitions.
A just and equitable society in Nepal and beyond, where every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and inequality.
To achieve social justice, gender equality, and poverty eradication by working with people living in poverty and exclusion and their communities, organizations, and movements.
WHAT IT DO:
Shaped and driven by our values, vision, and mission, we work for transformative and structural social changes through people’s active agencies. We believe in human rights and embrace HRBA to fight against not only the symptoms but also the structural causes of poverty, injustice, and inequality.
Discriminated, excluded, and exploited people – particularly women and girls – living in poverty and injustice, whose rights are denied or violated, are our primary stakeholders. We take sides with them and stand by them; it is their stories, energy, and activism that inspire us and our work.
Strategic Program Priorities
Advanced women and girls’ rights
- Developing alternatives to reducing the care work of women and advocating for women-friendly development and Gender Responsive Public Services (GRPS)
- Strengthening the safety, security, and dignity of women and girls
- Strengthening actions on decent work and rights of women laborers
Advanced quality public education as a basic right for children
- Strengthening school governance to promote rights and quality learning outcomes in public school
- Increase active child participation in schools’ endeavors through active Child Clubs and Youth agency
- Advance the agenda of education financing for public education
Promote sustainable economic alternatives for resilient livelihood
- Advance the agenda of green solutions through agriculture and off-farm livelihoods initiatives
- Promote women-friendly market system
- Advance the actions for climate justice
Strengthen resilience against disasters
- Strengthening local capacity to reduce the risk of disaster and the impact of climate change
- Enhance effective humanitarian response led by women and youths by promoting humanitarian signatures
- Promote safe school standards through disaster prevention and mitigation measures
Priorities in Nepal
ActionAid’s climate justice campaign is spearheaded by those who suffer the most from climate change, namely poor and vulnerable women and young people. The campaign seeks to advance climate justice by adopting effective organizing, mobilizing, and communication strategies to demand social and political transformation. ActionAid acknowledges the importance of youth and women in addressing climate change and simultaneously launched the campaign in 10 districts of Nepal, including Tehrathum, Siraha, Mahottari, Parsa, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Palpa, Kapilvastu, Bardiya, and Doti. Collaborating with local organizations, ActionAid aims to maximize the campaign’s impact and create a collective response to climate change by pursuing various activities and mobilization efforts to compel communities, families, students, and activists to agitate for climate justice.
- Mobilize vulnerable and poor women and young people to advocate for climate justice and demand social and political change.
- Increase awareness of climate change and its impact, particularly on marginalized communities.
- Empower local organizations and communities to participate actively and make their voices heard in the campaign.
- Develop a collective response to the climate crisis and foster solidarity across different groups and communities.
- Put pressure on policymakers and decision-makers to act on climate change and prioritize the needs of vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Deep-rooted patriarchal mindsets, cultures, belief systems, and traditions perpetuate gender-based inequality and violence against women and girls. These practices do not acknowledge the sexual and reproductive health rights of women, restricting autonomy and self-determination over their own bodies. Women are kept away from decision-making processes and their care works at home are barely recognized; their representation is mere tokenism and the extent of policy gain is undermined by weak implementation.
Our work will focus on strengthening women’s empowerment, improving the safety and security of women and girls, and advancing women’s productive roles.
Areas of Work
Violence Against Women
Reflect circles have become a great platform to discuss and combat violence against women and girls. This has helped the victims to gain confidence and fight back the injustices. Similarly, the tendency to register VAW cases has considerably increased over the years. Mahila Adhikar Manch (MAM) on the other hand, is playing an important role in mitigating the problem by working as a community mediator. Depending on the nature of registered cases in MAM, they make an effort to solve them at the community level itself, and for the critical ones, they facilitate the victims to take necessary legal actions. Further, an emergency fund is also established in different working areas to support the legal process and treatment of VAW victims.
Further, men’s engagement in the discussions on women’s rights issues, patriarchy, and masculinities was also prioritized to let them realize the effects of patriarchy and how gender roles are defined by it. Because of it, most of the schoolboys have internalized its essence and have stopped harassing the girls.
The continuous advocacy of MAM played an important role to sentence three culprits of gang rape to 13 years of imprisonment and a charge of Rs. 1 lakh from each. They were charged with raping 12 years old girl two years back in Nawalparasi. Likewise, women of Bansighat slum areas in Kathmandu were themselves engaged in writing drama scripts against alcoholism and performed in the communities for mass sensitization. It turned out to be an effective campaign to reduce VAW cases in the communities and the Chairperson of the Ward has also committed to introduce mandatory license permits for selling liquors. In the case of child marriage, after a series of campaign against it, such cases considerably went down in Banke.
Day celebrations to mark 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, International Women’s Day, One Billion Rising, Safe City Campaign, etc. were also organized with relevant related programs.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights
A series of anti-harassment campaigns in public spaces were organized in almost all the working areas. Diverse IEC materials on the issue were published and they were used as tools of mass awareness and advocacy. The initiatives were successful in letting the beneficiaries learn about legal provisions and act accordingly. Training on Self Defense and Safety Audit were also organized to contribute to the campaign.
In Palpa, Ward No. 3 of Mathagadi has been declared as a ‘Zero Home Delivery ward’. The initiative was jointly conducted by the respective Rural Municipality, Ward Office, AAN, and SRDCN, the partner organization. Followed by the declaration, rigorous sensitization on the pregnancy checkup, nutrition, precaution during pregnancy and monitoring is going on in every tole of the ward. In Kathmandu, a health camp was organized in Badikhel to address SRHR issues of women. It benefitted 230 women, out of which, 156 were diagnosed with Pelvic Organ Prolapse. They are under medication, now. In order to check the school absenteeism of girls during their periods, 40 girls of Parsa were trained in menstrual hygiene and preparing homemade sanitary pads. The homemade pads turned out to be cost-effective and also helped to reduce school absenteeism.
Further, safe city campaigns were implemented after close coordination with local stakeholders and security personnel. For instance, in Sankhuwasabha, a safety booth was established in the local market, which advocates against harassment cases in the market area and provides psycho-social counseling to VAW victims.
Likewise, in order to drop the community’s stereotypical mindset relating to women and girls like the choice of their dress is the major cause of violence, women should be at home before it gets dark, etc, a behavior change model has been piloted in Chitwan, Makwanpur, and Parsa. It included the capability build-up, creating opportunities, and enhancing the motivation of the communities.
Unpaid Care Work
With an aim to create awareness and promote a culture to recognize, respect, redistribute, and reduce the burden of unpaid care work, regular discussion in Reflect circles, capacity building training and orientation on time diary collection and analysis, and interaction with right holders and stakeholders were organized. By addressing unpaid care work and establishing Community Child Care Centers (CCCC), women are allocating their time to rest and skill development training followed by income generation. They are engaged in both on-farm and off-farm initiatives and are becoming more self-sustained and confident than before. For instance, in Doti, 5 households have bought LPG cooking gas and stopped using firewood. They were able to buy them from the income of vegetable farming started by women. In Bardiya, women groups have formed cooperatives and 47 of them were provided training on account management. The training was provided to bridge the capacity gap among the cooperative members to keep the proper record of savings, calculate interest, profit/loss, etc.
At UCW, the attitude and mindset of family and community and even of the local authority are gradually changing. With this realization, men have started to support women in household work and the local stakeholders are investing in the infrastructural development of CCCC. In Bardiya, out of the 4 CCCCs, the local government committed to take over the operation of 3 centers by signing a MoU and the other 1 is in process. This is one of our great achievements being recognized and praised both by the community and the government. In Terhathum, the women’s groups submitted fundraising proposals in VDCs and started utilizing the groups’ monthly savings for the sustainability of CCCCs, and in Lalitpur, Godavari Municipality allocated the budget of NRs. 50,000 for CCCC in Chapagaun.
In Reflect circles, both women and men were sensitized about UCW to internalize the workload and value the household care work. Time diary was filled by participants and used as a tool for further advocacy. For instance, it was found that fetching water used to take more time in most of the working areas. So, water tanks were established to reduce the workload.
With the theme of ‘Ensuring Women’s Economic Empowerment through Addressing Unpaid Care Work’, a two-day National Women’s Conference was organized in Kathmandu. The conference had Women’s Rights activists and MAM representatives from 35 districts and participants from different CSOs, academia, journalists, and government stakeholders. A 7-point declaration paper was also prepared and endorsed by the conference. The paper was then handed over to the National Women’s Commission.
Women’s Rights Leaders and Policy Advocacy
With the increased capacity through leadership development training and various capacity-building initiatives, 184 women from different groups, networks, and ReFLECT circles of our working areas succeeded in being elected in the local election. Further, two of our women rights activists were nominated as Provincial Parliament members through the Proportional Representative System.
During the 2017 elections, MAM organized an election education campaign with a number of capacity-building initiatives. The network also published a booklet to provide detailed information on election provisions for women. This helped 150 MAM members to receive the candidacy, out of which, 80 of them were elected in local elections.
Women have begun to actively participate in different community-level committees like PTA, SMC, WCF, CFUG, etc. In Bajura, MAM was successful in tracking local resources and constructing a 60-thousand-liter water tank, which benefitted 70 households in total.
The Criminal Code Bill passed by the parliament entitled chaupadi as a ‘Crime’. The new law sentences three-month jail or Rs. 3,000 fine or both against the culprit. MAM, women’s groups and networks, and like-minded CSOs were engaged in continuous campaigns in locally affected areas and policy advocacy at the National level.
The newly elected local government representatives/leaders were also oriented on their roles and responsibilities including the issues of women’s rights such as GRPS, gender-based violence etc. They were also oriented on the newly formed judicial committee and its essence. With the objective of discussing the roles and responsibilities of the judicial committee, AAN, and its partner organization, DJKYC organized a Province-level Women’s Conference in Province 2 (Now Madhesh Province) followed by a submission of a 10-point declaration paper to the elected bodies. The conference was participated by 80 vice mayors and 300 women rights activists of the province.
AAN, its partner organization, NMES, and the ReFLECT members had jointly conducted a study on the status of the slum community’s access to public services. The team collected information from 15 slum settlements and found that the slum dwellers are deprived of even the basic services of water, health, education, electricity, and sanitation. The report was later shared with local government representatives and commitments from them were received for the improvisation.
QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION
The constitution acknowledges education as a fundamental right. However, the education sector has received inadequate focus and resources from the government. The public education system as a basic public service has undergone a crisis due to the lack of quality education. Though the average school enrolment is satisfactory, challenges remain in achieving equity in access and identifying the most marginalized groups of students.
Our work will focus on eliminating the crisis in providing quality education, ensuring child rights in school, and also ensuring that the government investment in education is increased and prioritized.
Areas of Work
Promoting Rights in Schools
Contributed by mass awareness and advocacy on Promoting Rights in Schools (PRS) to the children, parents, and school authorities and the formation of citizen education watch groups and networks for school monitoring, local stakeholders are now committed to ensuring free and quality education in public schools. The School Improvement Plans (SIP) are also prepared in line with the charter of 10 rights and are implemented in most of the schools.
Further, the schools have started to conduct participatory social audits and developed the school’s code of conduct. On the other hand, child clubs’ engagement with schools has helped to decrease corporal punishment, early/child marriage, untouchability, and discrimination issues within the school premises.
At the same time, it was also found that the schools were collecting fees in the name of extra-curricular activities. Since the practice is against the constitution, various advocacy campaigns were organized to ensure free education. For instance, in Bardiya, the issue was raised, and the case in the Supreme Court, which was widely covered in the local and national media, and the District Education Office (DEO) was pressurized through a delegation. As a result, the DEO immediately took action and the schools were asked not to receive any fees. The Supreme Court also issued an interim order in January 2018, asking not to take any fees from the Dalits, indigenous and marginalized groups studying in community schools.
Likewise, AAN is supported with learning and playing materials, compound walls for building disaster-resilient schools, drinking water facilities, etc. to establish model schools with child-friendly learning environments. The model schools were built to encourage other public schools and ensure similar facilities within them. Similarly, in Kathmandu, 7 schools have established gender desks followed by an allocation of a separate room for taking rest and changing dress for girls during menstruation. The practice has helped to reduce their absenteeism. Further, 14 Child Learning Centers are established in Kathmandu to provide extra support for those children whose parents are unable to guide them in their studies. The centers have benefitted more than 363 children.
The Citizen’s Education Report (CER) process has also been helpful in to progress of the PRS Program. For instance, it helped to identify that one of the schools in Bajura did not have SIP and it also had irregularities of teachers. After the CER process, the SIP was developed in coordination with the District Education Office, and the regularity of teachers was achieved by holding their payment of leave days.
Complementing Quality Education
Child-Centered Learning (CCL) was also promoted in schools. This helped to create a better learning environment and has also supported to reduction of school dropouts. For instance, in slum communities, it has helped to enhance children’s regularities in schools. In Palpa, Jana Priya Basic School, which was about to be closed due to the smaller number of students has now increased the number of students from 19 to 48 after the reformation of school governance for quality education. Further, since the government has provisioned for the establishment of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers in all primary schools, advocacy to ensure it is ongoing throughout the working areas
School enrollment campaigns were organized throughout the working areas in coordination with the District Education Office, SMC, PTA, child clubs, students, and teachers. Different door-to-door sensitization Programs, broadcast of PSAs on local radio, wider use of IEC materials through Reflect, etc. were done for the campaign. This not only helped to encourage new admissions but was also equally helpful in bringing dropout students back to schools.
The child clubs, on the other hand, were also successful in forming an SMC in Sarada Secondary School, Palpa after registering their complaint in writing. There was also a problem of not fulfilling the vacant position of teachers. The child club’s action led to a discussion among parents and SMC, which was later successfully addressed.
Quality Education and Policy Advocacy
The tax power campaign was organized in different working areas like Doti, Kailali, and Palpa followed by its orientations and training to the community leaders, teachers, child club members, and youth. IEC materials were developed and advocacy through media was widely practiced by developing and broadcasting radio talk Programs, TV shows, radio jingles, etc. This helped them to understand the context with the realization of further advocacy on tax justice, especially in the newly introduced local government structure.
Further, the Global Action Week on Education was organized in the month of April. This year, the campaign had a theme, ‘Accountability for SDG 4 and Citizen’s Participation’. Various activities from the federal to local level were carried out during the week-long Program. The activities included dialogue with the Education Minister to the Municipal Authority, a position paper developed and handed over to the local government, a letter from students to the Prime Minister, rallies and protest Programs, etc.
A High-Level Education Commission was formed by the government to provide suggestions on new education policies that could fit in the nation’s recently formed federal structure. AAN and NCE Nepal submitted a suggestion booklet to the commission based on a yearlong research work. The booklet contained various suggestions highlighting education at different levels and early childhood education, school curriculum and textbooks, school governance and teachers’ minimum qualifications, M&E, and DRR in schools.
Agriculture is one of the major sectors of Nepal’s economy and despite being a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, it is still lagging behind in achieving the anticipated growth, as it continues to depend heavily on rain-fed farming and is subsistence in nature. This sector suffers from the circular effect of migration with agricultural Programs and policies continuing to be biased towards large holder businesses, which result in the exclusion of smallholder farmers. There is a need to defend the subsequent landlessness and food insecurity.
Our focus is to advance people’s propositions for land rights, responsible tenure governance, and agrarian and policy reforms. Our work will focus on the economic empowerment of people living in poverty and exclusion by promoting sustainable agriculture practices and facilitating off-farm economic alternatives that also break the gender stereotype in the work division. The sustainable agriculture practice respects and maintains ecological integrity, thereby upholding ecological justice for people dependent on natural resources.
Areas of Work
Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture
Contributed by different trainings on Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) along with material support of agricultural products like plastic tunnels, sprinkles, irrigation pipes, plastic ponds, etc., small holder farmers are now more oriented on CRSA and are practicing it. For instance, small holder farmers of Bajura having livestock were capacitated on shed improvement. They were oriented on the proper utilization of cattle dung and urine for preparing compost and liquid manure. Similarly, the benefits of CRSA were shared during Reflect circles in Aathrai Rural Municipality, Terhathum. Consequently, the Rural Municipality is slowly moving ahead as a model for organic farming.
The concept of the community seed bank, on the other hand, has become an important step for the preservation of native seeds, for the conservation of agro-biodiversity, and for being involved in seed exchanges, seed processing, and seed marketing. The local bodies have also recognized the essence of the seed bank and are providing financial support for its construction. Further, the ‘One House One Kitchen Garden’ campaign has also supported to adoption of CRSA in AAN’s working areas.
Diverse skill development training, small-scale livelihood support, awareness and advocacy to tap available government resources, and fund mobilization of community groups and cooperatives for improved livelihood alternatives had motivated people to engage in diverse agro-based and off-farm income-generating activities. Collective/individual vegetable farming for commercial purposes and livestock rearing were some of their agro-based livelihood activities; whereas, upscaling the traditional skills like making mudha, dhaka, handicraft, carpet weaving, dhakiya and leaf plate, mason, carpentry, plumbing, tailoring etc. were their major off-farm livelihood engagements.
Additionally, AAN is also providing support for smallholder farmers to improve their production and enhance their livelihoods. For instance, 3 e-rickshaws were provided to women groups of Bardiya to ease their accessibility to market their productions. This has also helped them to cut down on the expenses of middlemen. In Siraha, AAN and its partner organization, Dalit Jana Kalyan Yuba Club initiated a Community Bamboo Product Selling Outlet in Lahan Municipality, where the producers can exhibit and sell their goods at fair prices. Among the best practices, the entrepreneurs themselves look after the outlet’s overall management on a profit-share basis. This has also attracted visitors from the adjoining districts and even some Indian buyers. In Kathmandu, AAN and its partner organization, HomeNet Nepal initiated to brand of the products prepared by home-based workers. They have chosen ‘Home Creation’ as their brand name.
Access to Land and Natural Resources
Considering the entitlement of land as a source of power to live with dignity, AAN has worked to ensure landless, poor, and marginalized people’s access to and control over it. The ongoing single/joint land ownership campaign, for instance, is one of them.
In the first half of 2018, 761 landless people of Susta and Pratappur Rural Municipality were able to receive land ownership certificates with the coordination of the local Land Rights Forum. Similarly, 17 households of the Dalit community in Lahan Municipality were able to secure their shelter rights and in Doti, 24 households of landless people submitted a demand letter to the province’s chief minister for acquiring homes and land under ‘Janata Aawas Karyakram’.
Registration in the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) and coordination with it has helped the farmers to receive its facilities and subsidy. After being oriented about DADO’s provisions, small holder farmers have now started claiming them and DADO has also provided grants for different agricultural seeds and tools. For instance in Palpa, DADO had supported maize seeds to 176 farmers in the working area to develop it as a maize pocket zone. The farmers have planted it on 360 ropani of land. The maize market has a high scope in the local market of the district so, the farmers are expected to earn a good profit out of it.
In terms of policy advocacy, AAN has been continuously supporting the landless, marginal farmers and their networks to establish and strengthen their issues and agendas in the government plan and Programs. Contributed this, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperative has finalized the Land Act, which addresses the key issues of Joint Land Ownership, land to landless, right over public land for strengthening the livelihood of the landless, Kamaiya and Haliya Rehabilitation, etc. Similarly, AAN has also been working for the implementation of the fundamental constitutional provision of right to food sovereignty.
Source: ActionAid website