Humla Development Initiative [What We Do]
What we do
1. Sustainable agriculture promotion
To combat food scarcity and government's rice transport from the south to make rice available in cheap price to people in the district, HDI promotes sustainable agriculture. The local people and farmers are provided with basic training with some support on necessary materials for agricultural production. The concept of organic farming and permaculture will be imparted to the farmers' groups emphasizing the production of local crops. Besides, emphasis is given in the consumption of local food crops, such as, panicum and finger millet, buckwheat, foxtail millet which grow even in less rainfall. Some new recipes will be introduced for the consumption of these local food crops.
2. NTFP and biodiversity conservation
Humla is rich in natural resources as well as non-timber forest products mainly the medicinal herbs. One person or more from almost all the households are involved in collection of the herbs and sell them to the local businessmen for their income. Although there has been vast knowledge of the use of such herbs, the haphazard collection of those already caused the need of putting some species in endangered list. Again, the lack of transfer of knowledge to the younger generation, caused knowledge gap on the uses of those herbs. Though people collect the herbs to sell them, they do not know how useful for them also are not involved in processing. So in this regard, HDI has been involving in the awareness raising about the importance, conservation and processing of the NTFP and biodiversity in Humla as well as some technical backstoppings.
3. Institutional strengthening of civil societies
The objective of HDI is to work in the district for a longer period to make positive impact in the development process. In the course of program implementation, HDI brings civil societies together to involve in the mainstream development. It will also support in the institutional development of the civil society so that the group may take up the program implementation after HDI moves out from Humla. In this aspect, HDI plans to form VDC Group from each VDC involved and the representatives from each VDC will form a district unit of HDI.
4. Renewable energy and appropriate technology promotion
The district is potential in the use of renewable energy technologies like micro-hydro for electricity and solar for food processing. There are quite a number of water mills for grinding grains and they can also be improved for saving labor for agro-processing. Solar energy has been exploited for electrifying households only. HDI has introduced several simple technology for drying food products and cooking food which can enhance the Humli peoples' livelihood and especially reduce the workload of women. Besides, the use of appropriate technology is realized important for saving labour in various agro-processing, like oil extraction from mustard, walnut and apricot seeds, thrashing and hulling or dehusking millets and buckwheat etc.
5. Dalit community development program
As the dalit communities in Humla are the most poorest and vulnerable section in Humla, HDI has been facilitating for their livelihood upliftment through some development interventions. HDI has also been further exploring the ways and strategies in this regard learning from other organizations' past experiences; as many of the development organizations supposed to uplift the dalits had not been succeed. Currently HDI has been facilitating the dalits for their livelihood upliftment through IGP programs: vegetable cultivation, donkey keeping, cattle raising, small business, solar light repair and maintenance, saving groups and the like including education support for dalit children.
6. Environmental education
The continued exploitation of natural resources has resulted in the degradation of environment realized the need of conservation measures through local as well as district level. The importance of spreading the messages to the public is carried out by using wall magazine. The wall magazines are already produced by the group of students writing informative articles and poems. The wall magazines are produced every month and the writers of the selected articles will be awarded a token of appreciation. One group per village cluster has been formed in the HDI VDCs and planned to extend the knowledge to other extended VDCs.
7. Sustainable VDC Development Planning
HDI is developing sustainable VDC development plan in joint collaboration with Namsaling Community Development Centre (NCDC) - Ilam based NGO which has an excellent experise in making participatory VDC Plan. HDI has a plan to develop sustainable VDC development plan of each programm VDC each year. In this year, sustainable VDC development plan will be prepared of Simikot VDC which is district headquarters of Humla. The planning will be an overall planning; the information could be used by any organization working in the VDC. The process will be continued annually so as to have positive result in the development process. The involvement of people from VDC and other organization in planning process will generate ownership on all the stakeholders. The learning from this process will later be used in district planning.
8. Research and policy advocacy
Research and documentation of important issues on Humla will be carried out as the district is having unique characteristics. Some of the issues are similar to other remote districts and should be considered during policy making for the development of such remote districts. As a part of policy advocacy, HDI started open discussion forum ‘Humla Kachahari' inviting people from different organizations, government, NGOs and interested individuals to discuss on some important issues.
What has been done so far:
1.Dalit Community Development/IGP program
The local organizations MSSN (Mahila Shanti Samaj Nepal ) and WWS (Women Welfare Society) were collaborated for implementing income generation activities for the Dalits of Simkot VDC.
2. Improvement of existing traditional water mills
Installation of improved water mill program has been launched in view of providing efficient services of the traditional water mills. It is a common site in Humla that a number of water mills are running in series in the hill streams. Initially one water mill was improved in Syanda by changing the wooden runner/turbine to metal runner. The efficiency of water mill has been doubled, measured in terms of time taken in grinding the measured amount of grains. Taking less time in grinding attract more people coming for grinding and this saves women's time in grinding at home or waiting in the ghatta (the water mill).An observation visit was conducted for information dissemination on the water mill in around the working area of Simkot and SyandaVDCs. The observation visit has enriched the knowledge on the participants and they show interest on improving their traditional water mills. The support available was sufficient for adding 7 more turbines this year and so altogether 11 water mills have been improved.To sustain the program though partly and as the activity generates income by improving the water mill, the beneficiaries were asked to repay the cost price of the metal runner and the transportation cost were subsidized. The Ghatta (mill) owners observation visit resulted in the formation of a Ghatta Owner Association comprised of 21 members from 9 VDCs.
10.Other IGP programs/Solar electrification repair maintenance
Household light from Solar system has been implemented for the poor families in Humla under Humla ma Ujjyalo or ‘Brightness in Humla'. The initiator of the program has mobilized to raise fund from individuals living in cities of up to Rs.5000 and receive subsidy from AEPC to install a set of solar lighting in the dalit households in Humla. The activity has taken up some momentum and installed quite a number of sets in the dalit households. The program implementers have not looked at the repair maintenance and some of the households have to live darkness due to problem in the sets as the users were not also given clear instructions. The idea is to train a person from the same community so that the person can generate some income by involving in the repair maintenance of the sets installed as well as the communties will be benefited the repaired solar lighting. Such training has been proved useful as the one from upper dalit cluster already had some income of about Rs.4-5000.
12.Introduction of manual thrashing machine for agro processing
Most of the women are involved in agricultural as well as post harvest agro processing like harvesting, transporting, thrashing, winnowing and storing of harvest. All of these activities are very tedious and labour intensive. Keeping in view of saving some labour by the introduction of intermediate technologies, like that of thrasher and dehusker, with the technical assistance of National Agriculture Research Council (NARC). It is aimed to reduce women drudgery and so women could be involved in other activities .
13.Research and documentation
Research is a part of our regular activity which will help in planning and design the HDI program in the time to come. Rabindra Raya Ph.D. student in AIT also helped in the research. A detailed list of the existing agricultural tools have been documented and added in the HDI resource library. Similarly, another compilation of the Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) which are used by the people in Humla is added to the resource. The NTFP list is also supplemented with each herbarium collected and prepared by Rabindra.
Parallely, HDI carried out a research on the current situation of the sheep transportation in Humla. Sheep herding is continuously to decline and the causes affecting the decline was related to the education and the declining salt trade. It could be looked into a different perspective whether the sheep could be kept with little transhumance or at average height so that they can be kept at one place all the year since sheep raising is also a source of income as well as protein for people.
14.Demonstration of Ecological Sanitation or bio-toilet
The ecological sanitation (ecosan) or bio-toilets have been introduced in Simkot Humla as demonstration. The ecosan seems to be appropriate since it does not need water fro flushing and can also be made at the roof tops in the houses. But the users need to be committed in using as they should not use water to mix with the solid part as that required to be covered with ash after each use and let it decompose in certain period. This ecosan also have provision to separate urine which is collected and can be used in field directly by diluting with water.
Two kinds of material stone chamber and wooden box have been used also to test the possibility and to make the cost lower. Result has yet to come from the users.