Election Results in Nepal Promise Stability

By Dale Dodge

Nepal has just finished having both federal and provincial elections.  The results were surprising, but hopefully will result in a more stable government for the country going forward.

Nepali Election – phase 1

The Nepali Congress party has been in charge of government for the past 5 years, but always as part of a shaky coalition with other parties.  In this election just completed, the other two major parties – both ‘communist’ – agreed to not split votes.  The two parties are the UML (United Marxist Leninist) and the UMP (United Maoist Party).  If the UML ran a candidate in a riding, then the UMP agreed to not run a candidate in opposition, and vice versa.  The result was that there was no vote splitting amongst left leaning voters, and the two parties handily won the most seats in the parliament – 117 of the 165 seats available.  Another 110 seats will be filled using a proportional voting system, but it will not change the result – the leftist coalition will govern for the next 5 years.  The Nepali Congress party received only 21 seats.

Nepali Election – Phase 2

Despite there being a minimum number of female candidates mandated, there were very few who ran for election.  Roughly 5% of candidates were female, and at this time, I have not heard how many were elected.

Nepali people are hoping that the stable government will speed up the reconstruction of houses and buildings damaged by the earthquakes 2 ½ years ago.  To date, only about 4% of the houses have been rebuilt.

What does Canada’s new International Feminist Policy mean to World Neighbours?

By Gabriel Newman

The Canadian Government has recently changed its international aid policy to focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In fact, it is the first country in the world to come out with a Feminist International Aid Policy. Previously, the focus was directed to specific countries but now with a new government there is a change of direction. The Executive Summary for the Policy states:

“The last three decades have seen dramatic reductions in global poverty, but not everyone has benefited equally. Hundreds of millions of people, especially women and girls, are still poor, have unequal access to resources and opportunities, and face major risks of violent conflict, climate and environmental hazards, and/or economic and political insecurity. By eliminating barriers to equality and helping to create better opportunities, women and girls can be powerful agents of change and improve their own lives and those of their families, communities and countries. This is a powerful way to reduce poverty for everyone.”

We, at World Neighbours, applaud these efforts as we have seen first hand the effect of systemic sexism on communities. These funding policies mean that should we wish to qualify for funding from Global Affairs Canada we need to make sure we meet all the criteria laid out in the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is easier said than done. While we have always endeavoured to encourage projects that promote gender equality within communities there are many barriers to meet these new criteria.  Some of these barriers are internal, as they will force us on the Board to rethink how we approach each project. But perhaps the largest barrier lies within our partnering organizations because this is a dramatic shift of thinking and at odds with some traditional cultural norms. Supporting and empowering women in communities is certainly supported by our partner organizations but the process and expectations may not align as closely as we would like. The Policy not only wants to see certain results, it wants the entire process of aid to embody the policy objectives.

Luckily, we have some time to work with our partner organizations and provide training, if needed, to bring them up to speed before we need to apply for project funding. There are also numerous opportunities, such as webinars and training sessions, to help bring us, on the Board, up to speed on these expectations.

Admittedly, this author is definitely trying to figure out what all of this means. I will let you know as things progress. If you want to read the entire policy, check out Canada’s Feminist International Aid Policy.

Bathing in Private is a Luxury

By Gabriel Newman based on information from Suresh Shrestha

In the small villages of Nepal almost all women, except for the few who have private baths or toilets at their house, must bath outside openly at the public tap or traditional sources, such as rivers, wearing their clothes (just opening the area up to the bra). Obviously, this is not ideal from a hygienic perspective or from the perspective of personal freedom and privacy.

Where there are outside toilets/baths with enough space, women may be able to bath their entire body, but this practice is very rare.  Whereas, women who have private bath/toilet at their homes, especially in town with concrete houses, can remove all outer clothes before bathing.

World Neighbours is currently working with TTS to build toilets in Ramechhap but the current design is small and cannot be adapted at this stage of the project to include bathing space. When the design was chosen the issue of women’s bathing was unknown to us and had not been factored in with most projects in the region.

We will however, look at adapting the design for future projects as we think this is an important issue. This would also require incentives to convince villagers to adapt to the idea of a bathing and toilet room.

Introducing our Newest Board Member

Gabriel Newman

World Neighbours Canada would like to welcome and introduce Gabriel Newman, the newest member of our Board of Directors. Gabriel is not new to World Neighbours as his father, Michael Newman, was a long time member. “My father got involved in World Neighbours after I left home and now as my children are preparing to depart I saw this as a perfect time to increase my involvement. From many conversations with my father over the years I have a decent understanding of the methodology, and the history of World Neighbours, and I believe in the work that is done, so it was only a matter of time before I became more involved.” says Newman.

Gabriel is already helping with managing the World Neighbours Facebook page as well as the website and will be posting articles regularly. “My focus for the articles and updates will lean towards profiles of interesting people or situations that are encountered in Honduras, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. I am already learning so much and I want to share that with our members.” Gabriel encourages members to contact him if they have an idea for a story or want to learn more about a certain topic.

Gabriel lives with his wife and two children in Vernon, BC where he is the Educational Coordinator at the Vernon Museum, is a sessional instructor at Thompson Rivers University, and manages a small hobby farm.


Feeding a village -visiting Burkina Faso

The following is an account by Judy Gray following her visit of APDC projects in Burkino Faso. APDC is funded by World Neighbours Canada.

It’s 8AM and we are underway – off this morning, first to Gbersaaga, to view the rice fields being prepared so they can be planted this June and then on to Ganyhela – a new village where we’ll observe an information session on nutrition, in concert with a cooking demonstration and meal sharing. We are familiar with the road that eventually will reach Niger:  the potholes, the donkey carts, the apparently dead but really just dormant trees lining the highway, the villagers on bicycles, the goats crossing the road and more – all magically misty due to the dust in the air – and know that we’ll reach Gbersaaga in about thirty minutes. Time to reflect on what we’re seeing, but not relax totally – who can do that when the chauffeur must slow and swerve dramatically every few minutes to avoid those deep pits! And then – suddenly we’ve arrived: off in the distance through the ghostly trees, we spy the furrows in the flat landscape and we are driving across red dirt to the “lowland” – though it looks just as flat as the land around it to me – to the fields being prepared for rice planting.

            We arrived before 9AM and already there were about 25 villagers hard at work; really, not surprising as the sun’s heat was evident the moment we stepped from the truck. Hard, rock hard “soil” is slowly and mercilessly being chipped into smaller chunks in order to prepare partitions – or small “walls” that will keep the water inside the enclosure once the rice is planted. To begin with, the entire area of 3 hectares is being “fenced in” with these walls or “diguettes” as they are called; and after that, the bas-fond rice field will be divided into much smaller individualized plots, with a wall between each section. Sweat pours off the villagers as they swing a pick axe high into the air, before bringing it down into this parched and hardened “soil”. As the pick meets the soil, the dust floats up and the land is broken into a few chunks. Repeat, repeat, repeat – same spot – several times, in order to break the ground into small enough chunks that can then be bashed with a shovel and the chunks piled by hand to create an 18 inch high, 20 inch wide wall – the work reminds me of my childhood when I’d build a moat around a sand castle! More than twice that energy is required to achieve this result! .The villagers have split up into small groups of about 8 and each group is working on one of the individual diguettes. And it is certainly not just men who are out toiling in the heat of sun: young women, women with babes on their back, and elders – as one person tires, another takes over; while still others work behind placing the chunks into the correct spots to produce a wall that will trap that water once the rains begin. A sense of urgency is present – the walls must be built before the rainy season which will arrive, hopefully by late May; and between early March and May, the days will get hotter and hotter as the temperatures will rise eventually to near 50C!

We learned that the three hectare bas-fond belongs to one family of Gbersaaga, and while that family will be given several of the individual parcels, the remainder will be allocated to 100 families – all of whom will help, and have helped with this back-breaking preparatory work. Once the work is completed and all the diguettes have been constructed, someone from State agriculture department will come to the village and assign the parcels – the village leadership committee will provide information about those who should receive a parcel with priority given to the poorest households in the community and often women, with no husband, but women who are able to work that land. We also learned that one parcel of land ( about 20 metres square) will yield about 100 kg of rice. A small start, but one more way to increase food security and diversify a family’s diet.

            The rice field observation completed, we were back in the truck and on the highway for another 15 minutes to reach the village of Ganyhela. This village joined the project just over a year ago, and in spite of limited duration of this village’s involvement, the villagers seem to have wholeheartedly embraced their inclusion in the APDC project. About 80 women, young children and babes were already gathered under the ubiquitous “big shade tree” – we always meet under a tree, as the temperature is probably almost ten degrees lower than the mad dogs and Englishmen full sun temperature. Food preparations had begun  around 7AM, with the guidance of the two APDC field workers, Hortense and Diaboado. It takes time to gather enough wood, set a fire, and get the enormous cauldron and the required quantity of water heated Two “dishes”  are being prepared today, as usual – one, a bouillie or porridge for children between the ages of 6 and 11 months – their introduction to “solid” food and then a “repas solide” or stew, for everyone else: toddlers and young children, pregnant and nursing mothers ( virtually every female in the group! ). Emphasis is placed on including a food from each of the important food groups: a cereal, a protein, and a fruit or vegetable – and explained to the villagers as “an element for energy, an element for growth, and one to provide needed vitamins”. Once the preparation of the two meals is well underway, and the grain ingredient needs time to simmer, the women gather to listen to the instructional part of the demonstration: Diaboado explains the reason and importance for each food group and , with the aid of very primitive visuals, shows examples of which local foods are part of each food group and may be used in a “meal” preparation. One must remember that at least 80% of these women are illiterate, and must absorb and retain this information orally; no mean feat for women who have never had any formal schooling and another reason for repeating the sessions more than once. Today’s bouillie includes rice (the cereal), ground nuts (ground peanuts), dried powdered fish, and niebe ( navy beans ) – (the protein), and tamarind (the fruit ) while the “repas solide” or stew includes tomatoes, onions, chopped cabbage and eggplant (vitamins), powdered dried fish and niebe (protein) and rice (grain) along with a handful of salt. This meal’s preparation was multi- stepped: first the chopped tomatoes, onions, and cabbage were gently fried and put aside;  then water was added along with big chunks of aubergine and cabbage – these were cooked until soft and removed also; next the chopped fried vegetables and uncooked rice and navy beans along with lots of water were cooked and simmered until the rice and beans softened. During the cooking time, the information session with questions took place. Finally it’s time to eat: more women and children drift in and the bowls are placed on the ground. The bouillie for the very young served is served first and time allowed for mothers to help the babes mouth the thick soup – time needed for the bouillie to cool as it’s still very hot and a few cries escape in the beginning! Fingers dipped in our communal bowl as we must try everything too, and after I’ve sampled the soup, I’m off to grab photos of the babes – many licking the soup from their mum’s fingers. I noticed a number of children older than 11 months who are also sampling the bouillie; seated on the ground, finger  dipped repeatedly into a small plastic bowl and then licked with gusto as the soup is enjoyed.

I forgot to say that handwashing hygiene is also part of the session and large pans of water with plenty of soap are available and children and mums are wash hands well before eating.

The bouillie largely finished, it’s time for the repas solide to be served. A flurry of activity as each woman places her bowl on the ground beside the huge cauldron: one woman serves the rice-niebe mixture and then places a couple of chunks of the cooked cabbage and aubergine into the bowl. It’s suddenly quiet under the big tree as all are sampling and enjoying the food. WE eat from the large bowl provided – one bowl for the six of us – hoping and praying as I eat that any vicious bugs will have been killed during the cooking and acknowledging that this is, indeed, very tasty!!! Time is taken to enjoy the food – no-one rushes off back home; bellies replete the women continue to chat, help a toddler eat or nurse a baby once again. As I again wander around the assembled groups, I notice that the huge cauldron of stew and the one of bouillie are being scarped within an inch of their lives – not a scrap of food remains, and one woman is watching carefully to make sure no-one returns for a second serving! There is really just enough for each person to have only one!

We witnessed this instructional session and accompanying food preparation in three different villages over the course of our visit: each time different foods were used, but always attention paid to the inclusion of a food from each group, with emphasis on the use of locally available items! Probably the most interesting and inspiring sessions we witnessed during our stay in Fada.

Creating “Open Defecation Free (ODF) Zones” One Toilet at a Time

Thanks to Dale Dodge for this report.

In Canada just about everywhere is an “Open Defecation Free Zone” but as of 2010 open defecation was the standard in the rural parts of Nepal. This has series health and safety consequences.

That is why in 2010 the Government of Nepal adopted a National Hygiene and Sanitation Master Plan to address this issue. The goal of the Master Plan is to attain universal access to improved sanitation by 2017 for better hygiene, health and environment. A major goal of this Master Plan is to reduce open defecation to zero, throughout Nepal.  To achieve the Open Defecation Free (ODF) goal, there must be the availability of toilets, especially toilets close to personal dwellings. The milestones of the ODF goal are set as follow:

Milestone 1 : Toilet coverage of 60% of total households by 2012/13

Milestone 2 : Toilet coverage of 80% of  total households by 2014/15

Milestone 3 : Universal toilet coverage by 2016/17

In Ramechhap district, where World Neighbours Canada has supported the work of Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), since 1989 to alleviate poverty and help rural communities become more self-sufficient, the Drinking Water & Sanitation Division Office, a government agency, is responsible to achieve the above target through collaboration with various social organizations working in the district. There is also a District Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Committee (DWASH-CC) headed by a Local Development Officer. Being that TSS is also involved on water and sanitation initiatives, it is also a member organization of the DWASH-CC. In order to avoid duplication of work amongst the many active NGOs working in this field, and in order to achieve the ODF target, the DWASH-CC has allocated certain communities to each NGO.

TSS has been given the communities of Deurali, Dimipokhari, Hiledevi and the city of Manthali to work with.  This will require the installation of approximately 4200 sealed, hygienic toilets.

There is a process that has to be met in order to declare an ODF zone. Firstly, the concerned NGO has to send a letter to their local Ward Office / Village Council / Municipality. The local Village Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Coordination Committee (VWASH-CC) based in each ward has to send a letter to District WASH-CC to request a field monitoring visit for confirmation of a toilet close by all houses. The monitoring team includes representatives from government officials (DCC, DWASH-CC, Drinking Water & Sanitation Office), a journalist, a representative from the District Federation of Water & Sanitation Beneficiary, and other NGO stakeholders. After the monitoring visit ensures that toilets are installed by all houses, a date is set for an ODF declaration event. On that day, again representatives from above mentioned government & non-government offices will  visit the community. There will be a formal event – many speeches,  a group declaration by residents that they will use the toilets, and a certificate presented to the village.  And of course, much food and dancing.

Presenting Diaboado Oboulbiga; Burkina Faso APDC “Animateur”

Profile and photos by Judy Gray

Diaboado on the way to a village.

Diaboado is an “animateur” or field worker with APDC. He began his work with APDC in March of 2016, after the World Neighbours Canada grant with the Canadian government was signed. Prior to that time, he was employed by other NGOs in the Fada area, mentoring and leading workshops for villagers on the topic of nutrition and healthy eating.

Diaboado was born in 1975 and is married and has two children, both girls. He attended both elementary and high school and continued his education until he attained his high school diploma. Diaboado has completed a literacy course for the local language of Gourmanché;

Diaboado with the villagers

and has also taken training on the topics of soil and water conservation, environmentally appropriate agricultural techniques, nutrition and healthy food preparation, and on becoming an effective mentor and leader during community sensitization sessions. He has also participated in carrying out surveys with villagers to gather information on their understanding, attitude and practices around the topic of nutrition.

Diaboado with the food chart

While my husband and I were in Burkina Faso this past March, we were lucky to attend several village sessions with a focus on nutrition and watch Diaboado provide an explanation of the food groups and how to include an ingredient from each during meal preparation. He has a calm and quiet manner, but is comfortable and positive in his interactions with the villagers. Merci, Diaboada, for your involvement with APDC!

Ramechhap avoids worst of the flooding

The Tamakoshi River in the Spring facing North

The extreme flooding in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh has resulted in damage and loss of life  in Ramechhap, but not to the scale we are seeing in other places. Suresh Shrestha, our World Neighbours Partner, sent the following reports this month. Along with safety we were hoping there was a silver lining with all the rainfall and that the rainy season would recharge some of the water sources that had dried up over the past seven years of drought. It is still too early to tell.

The clips below are all from Suresh.

The Tamakoshi River now facing North

Aug 14, 2017.  Due to last two days monsoon, there was heavy flood mainly in 21 districts in Terai (southern region) of Nepal. The death toll is 91, missing 38, injured 25. Over 50,000 houses have been reported submerged/affected by the flood. Due to this recent monsoon, there has not been any damage in Ramechhap.

The Tamakoshi River in the Spring facing South

One month ago in Ramechhap, there was big flood in Khimti river (located 10 kms. distance from Manthali). It happened in the night time. The flood damaged few houses, killed 2 people and missed three people, not yet found. The total death was 5 people. Since then, there is no any flood in Ramechhap. Four years ago, there was also flood in this same place that killed 8 people.  In this monsoon, the size of Tamakoshi river is big. We have less rain in middle part of Ramechhap, but there are more in higher areas.

The Tamakoshi River now facing South

Aug 21, 2017.  Despite the monsoon rain it is not known the recharge of water sources. In upper areas there is more rain, but the middle part has most drought. Despite the monsoon, the rainfall in less in drought area.

We will keep you updated .


Presenting Tambiliano Hortense Lompo; Burkina Faso APDC employee – field worker, and health care leader

profile and photos by Judy Gray

 Hortense has worked as a field worker for APDC for the past year and a half. She recently completed the two year Government Health Care program at the local college and could work as a Health Care worker in one of the regional Centres de Santé but has chosen instead to work for APDC, providing in-service sessions to villagers on the topics of family planning, pre-natal and post-natal care for women, women’s rights as well as assisting with the food preparation demonstrations.

Hortense is 37 years old; is married and has four children ( one boy and three girls ) who range in age from 6 years to 16 years. All of her children attend school, which is a challenge as the cost of schooling is a deterrent for many. During the years 2000 – 2002, Hortense lived in Ouagadougou and worked in a Mission with a group of Catholic Sisters. There she learned about gardening, and cooking as well as learning how to sew. She now spends much of her time looking after her family, but also likes to read during any leisure time she may have.

During our visits to the project villages, we had a number of opportunities to watch Hortense interact with village men and women and it was clear that she has established a strong bond with the villagers and is well-respected by them. Hortense loves her job and enjoys working with the villagers. Her smile is warm, sincere and endearing! I feel that APDC is lucky to have Hortense as part of its team. It is thanks, in part, to World Neighbours Canada’s current Maternal Infant Child Health grant from the Canadian government, that APDC was able to hire an additional field worker, Hortense, to assist with implementing the programs.