Thursday, December 16, 2010

Road to progress

Kotila Haat – a small market in the Far West of Baitadi district – will be linked to Shreevawar by coming October and connect the remote village market (Haat) to the highway, where the villagers can sell agriculture products.
“The road is not only going to link our village to market place but also a source of income for us now and in future too,” said Prama Dhanuk, a lady in her late thirty from Bhumiraj VDC. She is one of the members of 88 Building Groups, where there are a total of 983 men and 719 women, who are having a regular income for last three years due to road.
Those Building Groups – formed with the participation of the communities around one kilometer sphere of the road of three VDCs – are engaged in the road construction and each one of them earns equal wages based on their performance.
“I earn something around Rs 300 to Rs 500 per day,” said the lady, who has never thought of earning herself due to lack of education and opportunities in this remote Far Western Nepal.
Currently, people of Bhumiraj VDC are working on to 15-km stretch of the 24-km of Shreevawar-Kotila Haat road, which has already opened 12.7-km track using manual labour.
"We have adopted Labour-based, Environment-friendly and Participatory (LEP) approach,” said Amulya D Shrestha, Project Implementation Officer (Transport), Nepal Resident Mission of Asian Development Bank (ADB) that has designed and funded the project during the conflict period to engage the locals in development activities that could also generate income.
Though, it is a little costly and time consuming to construct road with manual labour without using machines, it has given an alternative source of income. They are now having a regular income that has helped them pay their loans and buy land.
"Earlier, our males used to go to India for six months to earn livelihood as we had no option to farming that could only help us osme months,” said another busy construction workerBishnu Dhanuk, who has saved some money and bought gold ornaments.
Each family of Bhumiraj earns around Rs 70,000 to Rs 400,000 per year from the employment in road construction. The project also offers skill-based trainings besides employment opportunity so that they could involve themselves in economic activities after the phase out of the project that will close in October 2011.
Approved in September 2004, the project costs $69 million out of which ADB has funded $40 million loan in 2004 to the government.
Ministry of Local Development, and Department of Local Development and Agricultural Roads (DOLIDAR) are the executing agencies of the project that is aimed to address the development needs of conflict-affected communities – by promoting inclusive processes that seek to restore incomes and connect the rural poor to markets and economic opportunities through investments in rural infrastructure and livelihood restoration facilities – of 18 very poor and remote districts.

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