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.


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.


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.

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.

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 .