Vaglu Majhi's hard earned jacket

Vaglu Majhi wearing his jacket
Vaglu Majhi wearing his jacket. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Vaglu Majhi is wearing a jacket for the first time in his life. He belongs to a Mushahar community in Ishworpur village, Sarlahi district, terai (low lands) area of Nepal. Mushahar community has always lived in abject poverty due to lack of education, skills and income generating opportunities. Vaglu's purchase of jacket was the result of NRs 21000 profit he made from selling his vegetables in 10 months’ time.

“I and my wife made money out of selling vegetables and in 46 years of my life, this is the first time I have ever worn a jacket. In the past, it was always a shawl that I clung to save myself from cold during winters."

Highlights

  • In 2011, with LRP support, 6,003 disadvantaged households have received seed grants to start Income Generating Activities.
  • In 2011, with LRP support, 105 Women's Rights Forums were formed, trained and mobilised.

UNDP's Livelihood Recovery for Peace project (LRP) has helped the Mushahar community to learn new skills along with some seed grant to start up any income generating activities. With the amount of Rs. 9,000, the Vaglu couple leased a land and started vegetable farming.

As of today 10,710 disadvantaged and poor households of 328 marginalized community groups of Mahottari, Sarlahi and Rautahat districts have received the seed grant to start to start their income generating opportunities in agriculture, livestock and other small trade.

Items of basic necessity were often the cause for conflict due to scarcity. There were only 3 hand pumps for 90 households of Mushahars and Danuwars (considered as untouchable caste) in Kureniya village. They now enjoy the right to use water from the same source with dignity. "As the Chairperson of the User Committee, I did a lot of counseling to make sure that hand pumps would be installed in locations that would benefit all. We worked out some strategic locations and installed 10 hand pumps with the assistance from UNDP,” says Vaglu.“We are still Dalits but no longer treated as outcastes by other communities. Water has washed awa our stigma," he further adds.

A total of 70 Mushahar households have been organised into two community groups and they attend the weekly participatory learning and action (PLA) sessions facilitated through the support of UNDP LRP project. The local youths are hired as Peace and Livelihood Facilitators (PAL) to inform them about their rights and community empowerment to bring better social cohesion and peace at the community level.  Some of the community infrastructures (community halls, water sources, culverts) supported by UNDP LRP project have brought together different ethnic groups to rely and help one another resulting in decreased conflict.