Report of DRR, Accountability and Social Justice Project

Asia Foundation
Second Quarterly Report
September 2017 – January 2018

Context:
Natural disasters are becoming a day-to-day events because of unplanned and unregulated growth of urban areas, road constructions without considering geological condition, stone and sand collections from streams and forests, use of mechanical instruments to make earth vulnerable, extreme climatic conditions, and so on. Unless people understand all these factors and do something to prevent and adapt Nepalese people will go through the calamities very frequently. Just this year after January diseases spread in Jajarkot and Kathmandu, then earthquake which dominated everything, then landslides in Taplejung, Tatopani, etc. All these are destroying human and natural resources. The relief system used is making people dependent and beggars. It may be quite difficult to overcome this mentality and make people responsible and accountable to their own work, livelihood and safety. The main victims. However, are poor, dalits, women and children.
Based on the principles of the Ecosystem Management: People and community are fundamental, Human and natural ecosystems are tightly coupled, Governance structures and institutions. Ecosystem management needs to be part of the global development discussion, Multi-functionality, Design a resilient system, Modify socio-ecological systems, and Large Scales; the project was designed. The principles of the framework act as a guide for ecosystem management-based approaches to development interventions. Based on the above principles WATCH has plans two pronged strategies: Family level and community level initiatives for disaster risk reductions and resiliency at the Family Level and Community Level.
This quarter is affected by local level elections and rainy season. Women in Chhaimale were very busy with their household chores, raksi making, catering water (water is a shortage), vegetable gardening and selling products, etc. Men were quite busy with politicking and its after effects. So the project could not run all the activities as planned.
The Site Selection:
Several options were given in the proposal to pilot the project. The sites like Okhaldhunga and Lalitpur were discarded because similar project was being implemented there by WATCH. Kapilvastu and other Terai areas were not explored because they have different kind of disasters. So the WATCH management team visited Chhaimale where WATCH had worked from 1991 to 2004 and formed 33 women’s groups and 13 community forestry groups. When the team visited the area they found almost all the women’s groups were not functioning and community forestry groups were having conflicts and no management. Because of the unplanned road constructions, landslides and earthquakes almost all the water sources have dried up having problems of drinking water and agricultural land dried up. While discussing with the local leaders and women’s groups leaders it was decided to initiate the project there. Based on their advice one consultation meeting was organized in the VDC office on 5 gate 2073 BS. There were 23 oartucuoants. However, some of the expected participants: leaders of the local parties could not take part because of their preoccupation with the local level elections. The project team presented the project proposal including the budget and sought their advice. They approved of the project and committed to support the project. They also suggested that, at least there should be three similar consultations to be held in Simpani, Ramche and Bhandarkharka. The date was suggested on Chaitra 7 gate: morning in Simpani, noon at Ramche and Afternoon at Bhandarkharka. In Simpani there were 57 participants who listened to the project. Made some queries and decided to support its activities. Similarly, in Ramche there were 27 participants and similar response was received. In Bhandarkharka there were 26 participants. The same kind of reception was expressed. There were 70% women in all the gatherings. It also took quite a long time to get approval from the District Coordination Committee and the SWC because of which the project was started a little bit later than expected.
In spite all these welcoming events, once the project was initiated the same enthusiasm and welcome was missing. This created a situation where WATCH staff needed to visit each household several times. Groups also fluctuated again and again, for which further efforts had to be utilized to bring them together.
Goal and Objectives:
The goal of the project is to prepare people to cope with frequent disasters through ecosystem management and disaster mitigation and preparedness.
Some discussion regarding the possible disasters and already felt disasters like drying up of the water sources, problem in agricultural activities, landslides, forest destruction, earthquakes, etc. are initiated. As suggested by the l
Objectives
1. To raise awareness of rural people especially women about possible disasters and prepare them to cope and adapt though ecosystem management
2. To develop women’s leadership for management of local human, economic and natural resources.
3. To develop family level “Poverty to Prosperity” exercises to manage family level resources.
4. To develop ecosystem management plans of the area to cope with possible disasters and coordinate with government, donors, and local organizations

Activities:
To accomplish the above objectives the following activities are planned
1. Capacity building of WATCH/staff, women’s groups and partner women’s organizations:
a. Conceptual Orientation of Staff and rural women

Conceptual reorientation is related with move away from dependency and move ahead with own efforts. Even though this orientation has to be done in the first quarter because of timing of the local level election, local participants requested to postpone the event. Based on this, training was organized in Kathmandu on June 4-7, 2017.and June 8-9, 2017 in Chhaimale. There were 15 participants in Kathmandu (mainly WATCH staff) and 29 participants in Chhaimale. The Consultant’s reports in English and Nepali are attached herewith. As it was decided in the training that similar training is needed in the groups to try to change their mentality, in all the groups one day conceptual orientation was provided. These training have some impact on women but as there was almost no participation of men in the training, they still demand that WATCH has to do everything for them.
– Poverty to Prosperity Exercise Follow-up
Poverty to Prosperity training was organized in two phases: one in Kathmandu for five days on 16.20th May and two days field exercises in Chhaimale on 21-22nd of May. In this quarter poverty to prosperity exercises were conducted with 32 families. All these families have started doing some cleaning of their homes, covering water jars, making utensil driers, waste management, urine manure, liquid manure, etc. Three exercises were selected for investment. Further discussion has been started for the investment.
– Ecosystem Management Plan preparation training
No such training is organized yet. It was planned to do after reorganization of the community forests, But conflicts in the community forests were quite complicated. No CF has been doing any annual general meeting, has no proper accounting, etc. They are having their Executive Committee meetings, records are not there. Even in some CF there are no charters and management plans. There are a lot of illegal activities in the CF areas but nobody is taking responsibilities. From the governmet side also no action has been taken. Because of which it was not possible to reformulate any CF. the Ward Chairman agreed to call a meeting of leaders of CF but because of his own pre-occupation it could not be possible. Because of all these barriers, the Ecosystem Management Training and Plans could not be undertaken.
 Women’s leadership training on management
This training also is not organized yet. 14 Women’s groups have been organized. Their charters are being developed and some activities are being carried out. One of the groups disbanded because of internal conflicts. Because of reformulation of the CF not being successful, women leaders from CF groups could not be identified, so this training was postponed.
Development and implementation of plans
– Develop 50 household level Poverty to Prosperity plans and implement them
32 plans are developed and three plans were being considered investment after discussion. 150 coiler chickens are distributed for trials. This chicken lay eggs without interruption because it does not hatch. After laying eggs it can be sold as local chickens. Later there was an attempt to introduce Giriraj chickens also for meat but as there were some kind of diseases prevalent in the area, it did not materialize. There is discussion going on to introduce turkey . 425 fruit saplings of oranges, lemon, pecanuts, muntala, and pomegranate were distributed in the area. More than 3000 tree seedlings were planted in four CF areas by women. In three areas: Pandhero Danda, Jati Pokhari and Hile water recharge was tried out with digging small ponds and planting grasses mainly MB21. All three areas have some water recharge which shows possibilities and potentials for water recharge. But men are interested in it, they simply want big and expensive drinking water projects.
– Develop 10 watershed and basin level Ecosystem Management plans and implement them
This will be done later
– Develop visioning and planning of women’s groups and organizations and implement them.
Charters have been developed with 14 women’s groups. They have also started doing some community activities. After some maturity, some discussion will be initiated about becoming model groups for which WATCH has already developed indicators.
2. Orientation on possible disasters and open dialogue
– Awareness raising about probable disasters
Some discussions during the home visits and community meetings are initiated. People have realization because there is a tremendous changes taking place because of road construction, stone quarries, forest destructions, climate change, etc. But they need to come together and start systematic discussions and reaching some consensus to do something to be resilient.
– Public hearing and street drama for awareness
The discussion with the local club for showing street drama did not materialize because of their preoccupation in the agricultural activities. Two of the young girls groups have shown interest, so they will be trained show the street-drama and probably right after the Tihar they will be shown.
– One day orientation; Transect walk-discussions on possible disasters/risks and probable mitigation and prevention measures.
Not initiated yet.
– Orientation of district and local level activists
After a lot of small discussions with recently elected ward level functionaries, the Ward Chairman; Raj Kumar Lama decided call such a meeting inviting all the elected members, local NGO representatives, women’s groups, CF groups, etc. The Nepali report of the event is attached herewith.
3. Lesson Learning and wider experience sharing and coordination
– Lesson learning workshop with staff and partners
– Dissemination of project and lesson learning at the district level.
These activities are planned for the last stage of the project.
Beyond the Priject Activities
In collaboration with AIFO India and Bangalore Cares for Nepal, India; WATCH managed to get 14 scholarships to study Hotel Management Diploma (one year), Hotel Management Degree (4 years) and Bachelor in nursing (4-5 years). All together 12 girl students and boys were selected. All of them were from the earthquake affected families. One boy and three girls for Hotel Management Diploma, two girls for Hotel Management Degree and One girl for BN were sent to Bangalore to study.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
WATCH had a team building to let its staff know and understand in details about the project and their roles in it. A project plan was also prepared. The team building also decided that WATCH Chhaimale staff will have a weekly review/planning meeting every Friday. Each staff will have his/her attendance with in and out time. As field time is varied and usually needed to meet people or groups in the mornings or evenings the staffs were asked to record in the attendance. Every day each staff had to fill in the daily progress report specifying what they did on that day, what were the problems and issues, what is required from WATCH, etc. These daily reports were submitted every week. Every month the staff had to prepare and submit a monthly report. Staffs have to prepare 15 days plan and discussed in the one of the weekly meetings and provided feedback to each other. Every three months quarterly review/planning meetings are organized. Progress is monitored in all these events and feedbacks are provided.
Findings and Lesson Learning:
1. Women in Chhaimale area are quite busy with their household cores, collecting water, making local “raksi” and selling them, growing vegetables and selling them, etc. Forests destruction is caused not only by the earthquake but also because of raksi making. There are also a lot of loan giving institutions whose interest is just giving loans. These all have some impact on the people and the area which are both positive and negative. Anyhow, women are kept busy from early morning to late in the evening.
2. While discussing with women’s groups and local communities they expressed need for doing something. There is desire to do something. But basically now we find that women from Chhaimale are quite individualistic and men are not that keen on women’s groups and community forestry user groups..
3. As there are so much of complications and unlawful activities going on the CF user groups, almost no existing Executive Committees want to do anything. They want them to go as they are which means total destruction of the community forests.
4. Local elections created a lot of rift among the family members also which will take some time to patch up. Successful Poverty to Prosperity exercise is possible only with family support.

Planned Activities planned for the Second Quarter and progress
1. Quarterly meeting: Review of the first quarter and next quarter’s planning: It is done
2. Discussion about the project with the elected ward level local authorities and local level politicians to apprise them about the project and seek their cooperation. It is also done
3. Further 20 or so Poverty to Prosperity Exercises and initiate investing on some of them. Exercises are done but investment could not be done.
4. Planting of vegetable seeds, fruit saplings and distribution of chickens. It is done.
5. Six women’s groups formed and their charters developed. It is done.
6. Tree planting initiated with women’s groups and/or CF user groups. It is done to some extent.
7. Water recharging will done in some of the possible areas. It is done in three areas
8. Street drama script is prepared and players trained. It could not be done because local group who wanted to conduct the street drama did not show interest somehow.
9. Three CF user groups reformulated. It could be done because of complexities.
10. One day long conceptual training is conducted in all the women’s groups. It is all done.
11. Ecosystem Management Plan Training is held for the staff and some leaders. It could not be done because of people being busy with agricultural work.

Financial Report:
Out of the total budget Rs. 4,239,600.00 allocated for the project up to this quarter only Rs. 1,328,943.29 or 31.35 % of the budget is spent. It is quite below the expected budget to be spent. It is because effectively the project was started or became functional only after one month. Looking at the budget heads Rs. 611071.00 or 50.92% of the budget is spent on the salary and benefits. It is because the staff were mostly recruited and paid from April month. That’s why WATCH had made request to the Asia Foundation Nepal to provide no-cost extension of one month later. On the budget head of Training and Capacity Building Rs. 277303.00 Or 37.73% budget is spent. It is because one of the training has to be postponed because of the local level election and rainy season. There is a possibility that some money allocated for travel may not be spent. Out of the budget of Rs. 420,000.00 allocated for the Dissemination and Orientation only Rs. 98,536.00 in the Team Building is spent. It is 23.40% of the allocated budget. In the next quarter this budget will be spent mostly because planning for doing activities of this budget head is planned in the next quarter. From the Field Level Activities budget only 10.70 % is spent. Major activities planned in this budget head will be spent in third quarter only. From the Monitoring and Evaluation budget head 29.02% of the budget is spent. By nature this budget will be spent in the third quarter. It seems that budget expenditure until now is under control. In some cases it has to be put more emphasis special in the training and capacity building, awareness raising, orientations, etc. According to which the third quarter planning is proposed.