Thousands to Benefit from New Partnership: UNDP and AusAID sign agreement to assist forestry entrepreneurs

20 Oct 2006

20 October, 2006 Kathmandu - Six thousand people living in poverty stand to benefit from a new agreement signed between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Australia at UN House earlier today.

Under the new agreement Australia will contribute US$ 560,000 towards the Micro-enterprise Development Programme, which seeks to help the very poor improve their incomes by starting and managing their own businesses. The Programme--a joint initiative between the Government of Nepal and UNDP, and also funded by DFID and NZAID'has helped 84,000 people in 20 districts improve their incomes through enterprise since 1998.

The new Australian contribution will be used to assist people in Sindhupalchok and Kavre (Palanchowk districts), where under a previous programme Australia helped communities to form Community Forest Users Groups, which now successfully manage plantations covering almost 42,000 hectares of woodland. The Micro-enterprise Programme will assist some of these Users Groups to improve their members' livelihoods by promoting forest-based enterprises.

'The best way to help people out of poverty and exclusion is by creating opportunities, especially employment opportunities, which are very limited in many parts of rural Nepal,' UNDP Resident Representative Matthew Kahane said.

AusAID's Deputy Director General Mr Murray Proctor said that AusAID sees its contribution to the Micro-enterprise Development Programme as building on Australia's four decades of assistance in Nepal's Forestry sector. He also hoped that this assistance will, in future, open the way for similar activities among other Community Forest User Groups.

In Sindhupalchok and Kavre, the Micro-enterprise Development Programme will initially assess local skills, resources and market potential. Once this is complete, potential entrepreneurs, largely belonging to the very poor and marginalized groups, will be linked with banks, training opportunities and eventually markets.



Note to Editors:

About the Micro-enterprise Development Programme: With the aim of help people living in poverty to improve their lives, the Government of Nepal and UNDP started the Micro-enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) in 1998, which seeks to help poor people, especially those from traditionally excluded groups to start and manage their own businesses. The Programme now covers 20 districts and has helped 14,000 people, mostly women, to start their own businesses. The Programme is supported by NZAID and DFID.

Human interest story from the Programme: Successful Nepalese business woman, Kesha Pariyar, was once considered untouchable by her neighbours and relegated to mending torn clothes for local elites in exchange for left-over grain. 'I can't believe that was me,' she says, thinking back five short years. 'I had six children to feed and not even enough money to buy a simple bar of soap.' It was at this lowest ebb of her life that she stumbled upon an entrepreneur training programme provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She tried her hand a tailoring. Today, Kesha no longer accepts left-over grain as payment for her work, her clients pay cash. With the improved income, the family have replaced their leaky straw roof with a solid tin covering, and the youngest of Kesha's daughters are now going to school. But the biggest achievement says Kesha is that she has won the respect of her community.

Contact Information

For further information please contact: Lisa Hiller (+977-1 5523200 ext: 1060, mob: +977 98510 12133), or Sangita Khadka (+977-1 5523200 ext: 1077, mob: +977 98510 81114).