Nepal Project Partners tour British Columbia

By Dale Dodge

One of the terms of the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) project that WNC is working through presently is that we have to visit the project sites during the project term, and the project partners have also to come to visit Canada.  The purpose of the visit to Canada is to get our partners to talk to Canadians about global issues, rural development issues, gender equity issues and project issues.  The most recent visit by representatives of our partner, Tamakoshi Sewa Sameti (TSS) did that in spades!

Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, spent 10 days in Canada and spoke to many different Canadians in many different places.  Let me list the groups:

  • Rotary Clubs – in Aldergrove, Oliver and Kamloops – all supporters of our GAC project
  •  Community groups – in Aldergrove, Cawsten, Oliver, Vernon, Kamloops and Vancouver twice – all ‘town hall’ type meetings with 20 – 30 people each time
  •  Schools – in Kamloops – all others were closed for Spring Break
  • Universities – in Penticton – to builders at the Centre of Excellence in OUC who were interested in the water project and in the earthquake ‘proof’ buildings being built in the past 4 years since the major earthquakes of 2015,
    • and in Kamloops, at TRU, to 60 nursing students studying International Health issues, and were most interested in water, sanitation and health issues
  • Oliver Sikh Temple – thanking them for the very generous donation the Temple gave to our one time Earthquake Appeal in 2015.

It was a very busy 10 days, but these two fellows never stopped smiling and were wonderful ambassadors for WNC, for TSS and for Nepal.

Meet the Team From Nepal: March 2019 Visits

“We work with Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti because it is a pioneer social organization in the region that is committed to social work, working closely with rural populations. We have a good team spirit and are working from the ground up.”

Suresh Shrestha (TSS Project Officer) and Govinda Ghimire (TSS Director) have been working with TSS for over 25 years.

By Nav Gill

Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti, our partner organization in Nepal, is run by dedicated and committed staff members who continue to pave the way forward for rural community development. This  team includes senior staff members Suresh Shrestha (TSS Project Officer) and Govinda Ghimire (TSS Director), who have been with the organization for over 25 years. They’ve both seen the organization grow from a small one room site to what is now an integrated health system of a cooperative credit union, 25-bed co-operative hospital, ambulance, dentistry unit, and rural community development initiatives. In their time, they have worked with various communities to implement over 250 water systems and close to 20,000 latrines!

A typical day for Suresh and Govinda starts at 5:30am. They both start off the day with a 30 minute walk and catch up the news over a cup of tea. The team enjoys breakfast together with other TSS staff members before heading to the office around 9:30 am. On days when the team is working in the field with community members, their days extend to twelve hours. Otherwise, Suresh can often be spotted in the office working on program development, evaluation, monitoring, public engagement and outreach, and reporting elements of the project.

In March 2019, Suresh Shrestha and Govinda will visit various communities in British Columbia to share updates on the current maternal and child health initiatives, funded by the Government of Canada in partnership with World Neighbours Canada. Join us at a public event near you to hear first hand the impact of water and sanitation on community health:

  • Cawston BC March 24, 2019, 1:00pm-2:30pm @ Cawston Community Hall
  • Oliver BC March 25, 2019 7:00pm-8:30pm @ Christ the King Church
  • Vernon BC March 27, 2019 7:00pm-8:30 pm @ Heritage Hall Okanagan Science Centre
  • Vancouver BC March 30, 2019 12:30-pm-2:30pm @ HiVE Vancouver
  • Coquitlam BC March 30, 2019 4:00pm-4:45pm @ Coquitlam City Centre Library

Visit us on Facebook for more information on the upcoming events and our work!

Water and Sanitation for All: Updates from Nepal

Residence of Gagal Bhadaure worked with TSS to install a water system in their community in March 2017. The time to fetch water reduced from approximately 6-8 hours to 5 minutes.

By Nav Gill

Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), our partner organization in Nepal, is working tirelessly to ensure that community members have access to potable drinking water and technology to reduce open defecation. The ultimate goal is to ensure individuals can live healthy lives. In 2015, TSS and WNC committed to working on a Global Affairs Canada funded project (2015-2020) to increase child and maternal mortality by engaging communities to build 4,200 latrines and 21 water systems, benefiting over 26,000 individuals.

Over the last 4 years, TSS has worked with communities to install 4,000 latrines and 3 gravity-fed water system across the region and will continue to work on the implement the remaining systems until 2020. TSS has also worked closely with the National Open Defecation Free Zone campaign in Nepal and are proud to announce that Ramechhap is an ODF zone!

The success of TSS’s work is largely due to their unique community development model, where community members are partners in the planning, implementation, and follow-up of the infrastructure development. Community members lead all elements of the program and TSS provides the facilitation and support to do so. Of course, like all development projects the team also faces unique challenges that include geographical barriers, natural disasters, poverty, and human resources. Since TSS team members are from the Ramechhap district, solutions are driven by local culture and understandings.

It’s no surprise that over the last 30 years, TSS has successfully constructed over 200 water systems in the Ramechhap District, ensuring that access to water and sanitation are for the entire community!

TSS is visiting BC in March 2019! Join us at a public event near you to hear first hand the impact of water and sanitation on community health:

  • Cawston BC March 24, 2019, 1:00pm-2:30pm @ Cawston Community Hall
  • Oliver BC March 25, 2019 7:00pm-8:30pm @ Christ the King Church
  • Vernon BC March 27, 2019 7:00pm-8:30 pm @ Heritage Hall Okanagan Science Centre
  • Vancouver BC March 30, 2019 12:30-pm-2:30pm @ HiVE Vancouver
  • Coquitlam BC March 30, 2019 4:00pm-4:45pm @ Coquitlam City Centre Library

Visit us on Facebook for more information on the upcoming events and our work!

Volunteers from the Field

“I volunteer because it gives me an opportunity to travel in order to learn and understand the lives of people, and make change.”

Shanti Timalsina

Shanti Timalsina is an ayurvedic practitioner from Banepa, Nepal. She completed her studies in 2018 and currently works at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, Nepal.

Since April 2018, Shanti has worked closely with WNC director, Navjot Gill, on a comprehensive mid-term evaluation of the current project in Ramechhap, Nepal. During the months of April and May, Navjot, Shanti, and the team at TSS (our partner organization in Nepal), conducted interviews with approximately 40 community members from 4 different villages, along with interviews with key experts, community health workers, and physicians to understand how access to water systems and toilets impacts community health and wellbeing. Shanti brought expertise in facilitation and interviewing to the evaluation team.

Interviewing

When asked what she enjoyed the most about the evaluation process, she said, “my favourite part of the experience was the participatory workshop, where the team member were self evaluating the work done in the field. It was a very interesting way to learn what the participants and staff members at TSS thought about the project and both the challenges and strengths.” Further she shared, “one of the most memorable moments was speaking to an elderly woman who was surprised when we asked for her name instead of her husband’s name, which is a common practice.”

Shanti interviewing

Shanti looks forward to her continued work with WNC in sharing the evaluation results with the board and to all of WNC supporters through upcoming blog posts.

Prepared by Nav Gill

Reflecting on progress in Maternal-Child Health

The Board of Directors of World Neighbours Canada met recently in West Kelowna for their Annual General Meeting. Board members responsible for communication with each of our partner NGOs – in Honduras, Burkina Faso and Nepal – provided an update on what has been achieved during the past twelve months. Highlighted here is only ONE of the achievements of the past year for each country. During the coming weeks, we will publish more in-depth articles about the activities that have taken place in each country.

Our matching grant from Global Affairs Canada is allowing us to provide much more monetary support to these grassroots organizations. Without our donors, it would not be possible for World Neighbours Canada to apply for such grants. The directors of WNC and our partner NGOs – Vecinos Honduras, TSS (Nepal) and APDC (Burkina Faso) extend a heartfelt thank you for the on-going support. Please remember our projects and our relationships are long-term and support locally appropriate initiatives. It is truly a model of participatory development.

Burkina Faso – During the past year, close to 5000 villagers have attended sensitization and/or information sessions on family planning, malnutrition, the importance of vaccinations, nutrition (how to prepare healthier, more balanced meals with local produce ) and gender equality.

Nepal – Over the past two years, TSS has supported villagers with the installation of 4012 toilets in homes in villages in Ramechhap District. This has been linked to a nation-wide campaign to encourage everyone to use proper toilets.

Honduras – The health initiative of monitoring young children for growth by measuring body weight has continued and expanded over the past year and positive results are being observed. Mothers are given advice and support in raising healthy, well-nourished children.

 

A Reason to Celebrate!

Mr. Govinda from TSS accepts the plaque thanking them for their contribution.

We are celebrating at World Neighbours because our partner organization, TSS (Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti) in Nepal, was recently honoured for their work to help make the Ramechhap District declared an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Zone.

This was a multiyear process which involved the commitment of the community as a whole, individuals, TSS, and the local government. The progress was interrupted by politics and earthquakes but the end result spells a healthier future for the community.

Our TSS contact Suresh Shrestha reported:

“TSS was especially recognized & appreciated for the initiative and incredible contribution in toilet program. On behalf of TSS, Mr. Govinda received the appreciation frame. The appreciation frame was handed over by the Chief Guest, the Member of Parliament of Province No. 3, who was elected from Ramechhap.”

We too applaud and thank TSS for their hard work in helping the community of Ramechhap improve their own situation.

TSS  is one of the oldest and most respected non-government organizations in Nepal. It works in Ramechhap District (in the eastern part of the country) to alleviate poverty and help rural communities become more self-reliant. TSS helps village groups to organize themselves, manage finances, hold effective meetings, and undertake improvement projects. Their initial strategy is to establish and mobilize villagers to plan, organize, build and maintain water systems. When the water systems are installed, villagers often then choose to install sealed, sanitary toilet systems, which TSS and WNC also help them with. The combination of easily accessible potable water and greatly improved sanitation systems has greatly reduced the incidence of gastrointestinal disease in Ramechhap.

World Neighbours Canada, since 1989, has had the privilege of providing and facilitating financial support for the village water systems and the sealed, hygienic toilets that are all installed and maintained by local people. TSS provides only technical guidance and training, and the people themselves provide all local materials and all of the labour needed. Non local materials such as pipe, valves, cement, toilet pans and re bar, are purchased by TSS as needed, and are carried by men, women and children, from the end of the road to their remote villages.

Because the villagers take ownership of the projects from the earliest stages of planning and design, and because they are in charge of long term maintenance and repair, the projects have proven to be very successful.

The Strength of World Neighbours Canada – Enduring Partnerships and Mutual Respect

Mother and her children at health education session. Honduras

By Bruce Petch

At World Neighbours Canada we are sometimes asked what makes us unique. There are many charities that support people in developing countries; what does World Neighbours Canada do differently?

The answer is multi-faceted. There are many aspects of our organization that inspire loyalty among our donors – we are run by volunteers, have very low overhead, and use modest fundraising approaches. The attribute of World Neighbours Canada that we hold closest to our hearts is enduring partnerships. These partnerships occur at multiple levels – between the local organizations we support and the rural people they serve; between us and the local organizations; and between World Neighbours Canada donors and its board and volunteers.

The emphasis on partnerships is rooted deep. When World Neighbors was founded in the U.S. in the 1950s, it was ahead of its time in recognizing that poor people in developing countries deserved respect. World Neighbors founders embraced the United Nations statement acknowledging the “inherent dignity” of all people.

Community Meeting – Nepal

World Neighbors evolved into an unusual organization, focusing on long-term partnerships and outcomes when many organizations worked with only a one- or two-year project term in mind. Their minimal expatriate staff – called Area Representatives – often held their positions for more than ten years, sometimes more than twenty, which was remarkable in a field where terms of more than two years were uncommon. The essence of their work was building long-term partnerships with local organizations and communities, growing leadership capacity and fostering knowledge-based development.

Local NGO APDC leading workshop in Burkina Faso

The founders of World Neighbours Canada were inspired by the commitment and effectiveness of the World Neighbors family of organizations, and created a Canadian group to support the international network. Since its inception, World Neighbours Canada has worked to establish enduring partnerships with local organizations. We have supported Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti in Nepal and Vecinos Honduras (and its predecessors) since 1989, and APDC in Burkina Faso since 2006.

Finished Tap No. 6. – Nepal

Each of these organizations takes a different approach in working with local communities. Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti is committed to improving the lives of people in the district of Ramechhap. They support the building of water systems and latrines in different villages each year, and provide technical back-up for as long as is needed (nearly all of the water systems installed with TSS support continue to operate; in one or two locations, the water source has become intermittent). Vecinos Honduras takes a holistic approach to community development, gradually building local capacity for continuous improvement in agriculture and health. Typically, after 5-6 years they phase out intensive support, and instead provide advice to local committees or cooperatives. APDC similarly engages in a wide range of activities with villages, and shifts emphasis as local leadership takes on more responsibility.

Community members are taught how to test and treat for malnutrition.

Coupled with the theme of enduring partnerships is mutual respect. We respect the abilities and insights of our local partner organizations. They are led by some of the brightest and most committed people in their respective countries. Furthermore, we recognize that people who are materially poor are not bereft of ideas and ingenuity. We have the greatest respect for their ability to survive under extraordinarily difficult conditions, and to improve the lives of their families when given the opportunity and the knowledge to harness clean water, grow more crops, and raise healthier children.

This plantain harvest will help feed the family.

Building Earthquake Resistant Homes in Nepal

The new approved, earthquake resistant designed house, completed.

Photos and article by Dale Dodge

One of the delays to our toilet projects in Nepal was that the 2015 earthquake had destroyed numerous homes and there was no point in building toilets if the homes had not been rebuilt yet. Due to international generosity there was money to rebuild, however, that was severely delayed as the Nepalese government wanted to ensure the new homes could withstand another earthquake, so they put out a call for earthquake resistant designs for the new homes. Traditionally, homes are built of brick and mud which is inexpensive, but not earthquake resistant.

New house construction started in Jyamirbote. Note cement footings, and temporary living quarters.

Building is now underway. The government has a plan in which villagers will get an initial amount of money to start building a government certified, earthquake resistant structure.  If the villager plans to simply build another brick and mud structure, there is no funding.

There are two types of structures allowed which qualify for funding.  If the structure is one story, then there will be a cement floor and foundation, followed by walls that can be made of brick and mud to a height of about 24 inches.  This short wall is then covered either with a layer of wood or a layer of concrete about 3 inches thick – a slip layer.  The wall is then built another 24 inches with brick and another slip panel is added.  The walls look to be about 6 feet high in total, with another slip panel on the top of the wall.  And the roof is corrugated, usually blue, metal – much lighter than the slate that was used before.

Two feet of stone and mud walls topped by a cement slip layer = earthquake resistance.

If the planned building is more than one storey, then the whole building must be built of cement or cement block, with rebar on the corners and in the walls.

After a certain amount of construction, an inspector will give the ok for the villager to then get another installment of his funding, and a final installment is given upon completion.

When one sees the extent of the damage due to the earthquake, it is safe to assume that the rebuilding will take years.  But is has started, and there is a plan, and the end result looks to be much better than what was there before.

0

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.