Economically empowering the rural poor......

Samasuddin Ansari enjoying his new job
Samasuddin Ansari enjoying his new job. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Opportunity to start a new life ………...

Samasuddin Ansari, 35, of Basantapatti  in Rautahat district is physically challenged. Both his legs got crippled due to polio and he got confined to wheelchair.  Under the Income Generation Activity (IGA) of UNDP’s Livelihood Recovery for Peace (LRP) project, Samasuddin received a start up support to establish a small scale trade business. He started transporting goods from Nepal to India and vice-versa. He says, "The grant offered me a new opportunity to do business by using my tricycle to ferry goods between Nepal and India and sell them in the local market for income.” 

Highlights - Through LRP's support:

  • 6003 disadvantaged households have received seed grant to start income generation activities such as vegetable farming, poultry, livestock, retail shop, tailoring, local transport etc;
  • 1,100 plus structures have been constructed, maintained and rehabilitated such as; community and school buildings, drinking water supply, culverts, drainage, roads, rural electrification and toilets benefitting about 5800 households including 65 % marginalized communities;
  • 84 youth clubs have been mobilized to run peace and livelihood oriented activities ;
  • 300 plus youths have been engaged as tutors to run after-school tuition classes benefitting 9,147 children from vulnerable and marginalized communities;
  • 700 plus peace building events have been organised at the Village Development Committee level engaging large number of youths ;
  • 105 Women’s Rights Forums have been formed, trained and mobilized to combat gender based violence at the community level.

In addition to the joy of  increased mobility and making an everyday income by transporting goods, he has found confidence within himself and dignity in the community.   "Before I had no money and could not come up with any idea to start an enterprise. Day in and day out people taunted me as  'disabled'  and I felt bitter. The only skill I knew was to make hand-made tobacco sticks or bidi, and earned Rs. 40-50 a day. Today, if I am lucky, I make as much as Rs. 500 a day," Samasuddin says.  He has achieved quite a lot within six months of starting this business. His eyes brightened up as he added with a smile, "I need to work twice as hard, now that I got married last month."

Making idols– Mina’s new vocation

Mina Devi Ram Chamarin, 35, is a member of Maharani Livelihood Community Group supported by UNDP’s Livelihood Recovery for Peace (LRP) project. She received training on making idols of God under the skills development programme. After the training she also received a start up support of Rs. 9000 from the project. Within 6 months, Mina’s average income rose to Rs. 6,000 a month. She says that the earning is twice as much when Hindu religious festivals are around. It takes around 2 days to make one idol and it  fetches between Rs. 500 -700.

Mina lives in Rajdevi village in Rautahat, married for 11 years now with Yogendra. Her husband who spent most of his life working in India now has started living with the family. The couple work together, making and selling idols to support a nine-member family. He says "I stopped going to India because I realized that it was possible to make more money at home if I helped my wife.”

Mina is from a  Dalit family, a historically marginalized community and previously treated as untouchable section of the society. The morale of the Chamaar community was very low due to their traditional occupation of disposing carcasses. In 2004,  the community launched a social movement and gave up their occupation en masse. Mina deliberately chose to make idols to fight her abject poverty and overcome the social stigma. Idols of Gods and Goddesses are widely worshipped in her society and her new vocation  has not only increased her family income but brought her dignity as well.