The Japan Social Development Fund has agreed to provide a grant of $2.6 million to Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) to enhance the opportunities and share of poor rural artisans in the crafts and cultural market.
"The innovative project aims at addressing a root cause of unrest and distress by enabling the beneficiaries to access sustainable livelihoods by strengthening their traditional skills and make inroads into mainstream markets," vice chairman of Poverty Alleviation Fund Janak Raj Joshi said at a project launching ceremony here today.
The project will be initiating a chain reaction for the development of ancillary micro industries — natural dyeing units, metal workers and minor forest produce and generate employment to complement and support the establishment of artisan clusters.
"The pilot project will test a new model for improving the livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities in politically sensitive and lagging regions that depend on the craft sector for their livelihoods," he added.
The project will be implemented in nine districts — Myagdi, Gorkha, Tehrathum, Rupandehi, Dhanusha, Lalitput, Bajura, Dailekh, and Kapilbastu — and seeks to improve the livelihood of the internally displaced, landless and vulnerable communities, poor women and differently abled, whose lives depend in the cultural industry.
The World Bank is the administrator of the grant fund while the fund is the implementing agency of the project.
Japan Social Development Fund is an official development assistance programme administered by the World Bank on behalf of the government of Japan.
The four-year-long scheme 'Making Markets Work for Conflict Affected in Nepal' intends to bring opportunities for 8,000 beneficiaries, who are, despite being highly skilled, forced to migrate to the urban centers as laborers and un-skilled workers.
The project has four components — Cluster Development and Capacity Building, Community Cluster Fund, Marketing and Promotion and Project management, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Knowledge Management.
"Through this initiative, we are pleased to work in promoting and support the empowerment and participation of women, vulnerable groups and young people in the economic and social life of their communities and provide employment opportunities at the local level," said Japanese ambassador to Nepal Kunio Takahashi addressing the launching programme.
Senior Economist at the World Bank and Task Team leader of Poverty Alleviation Fund project Dr Gayatri Acharya, on the occasion, said that the grant would focus on the most disadvantaged and conflict affected districts where there is high youth unemployment but traditional skills that can be supported. "The model, if successful, would have a 'demonstration effect' and could be scaled up through the fund," she added.
By partnering with and tapping into the increased market awareness of successful non-governmental organisations and artisans, the project aims to change the generally low design variety and low quality features of the local craft market into one that rural communities can rely on for higher earnings and recognition of their traditional skills.
National Planning Commission secretary Yub Raj Bhusal, chief representative from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Mithuwoshi Kawasaki and the fund's executive director Raj Babu Shrestha also highlighted different aspects of the initiatives in the programme.