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  • Why flexible funding is vital for innovative development

    Andrew Clenaghan

    September 3rd, 2015

    Co-authored by Barnaby Peacocke

    The Department for International Development (DFID) is undertaking a review of the way it works with NGOs between July and November this year. This week they have asked which type of funding models, in which contexts, are best to develop effective civil society that meet the common goals of civil society and organisations like Practical Action. This is our response:

    Flexible funding should play a central role in development. Arrangements can be designed to help partnerships get established, introduce social and technological innovation, test it across different contexts, learn through practice – including failure – and communicate this learning to decision makers and practitioners.

    How this should happen when development partnerships are increasingly looking to address complex challenges that require a systemic response tailored to a particular context is inherently unpredictable. So while effective design does improve the chances of better results and sustainability, genuine impacts are achieved where issues of power and exclusion are addressed alongside the better provision of access to products and service. Addressing this reality requires a range of process, technological, partnering, and paradigm innovations that have seldom, if ever, been funded through individual projects. By allowing development actors to move beyond the high entry costs and inherent unpredictability of short-term project models, flexible funding offers a unique vehicle by which NGOs, the private and public sectors can better absorb risk and explore long-term opportunity.

    Used well, PPA funding has been a good example of this. At Practical Action PPA flexibility has allowed investments in process innovations like ‘Participatory Market System Development’ and given space to learn and refine this and other initiatives. It has enabled investment into establishing long-term partnerships with the private sector in areas like risk financing, and with other NGOs in impact investment. It has facilitated our entry into new contexts to test alternative funding models and our ability to make learning about development practice available to others through knowledge services. PPA funding has allowed Practical Action to invest in the skills of technical teams on the ground and supported our global advocacy in support of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. No other current funding vehicle has carried this wide-ranging ability to transform organisational practice.

    DFID can work towards flexibility and innovation in several ways:

    1. Tailor flexible funding to support systemic approaches and on-going adaptation: Access to goods and services depends on effective systems in which a range of public, private and civil society actors work. Collaborating agencies need the flexibility to respond to shifts in the ways social, financial, technological, institutional, environmental and policy arrangements operate in a system when particular actions are taken. It also requires a strong emphasis on iterative learning with constant feedback about what does and does not work.
    2. Create a mechanism that balances accountability and flexibility: this implies a focus on accountability to process indicators like the quality of relationships between partners, as much as it does to measuring target outcomes. Development partners should also be expected to report on areas of learning such new business models and strategies.
    3. Use strategic funding to accelerate organisational transformation. Ensuring flexible funding supports the engine room of organisations will be essential to its success: in building the skills of front line staff to build effective partnerships; empower women and girls; apply effective monitoring and evaluation strategies; capture and share learning will bring both quantitative and qualitative changes in peoples’ lives and a better respond to learning, and; avoid the tendency of project funding models to encourage overly positive reporting on achievements.
    4. Structure flexible funding to encourage cross-sector collaboration: Ensure a proportion of funds are used to target collaborative ventures. Given the importance that partnerships are given in development, it is essential that flexible funds include a strong reporting focus on collaboration performance and learning, across agencies, and technology sectors.
    5. Iterative funding arrangements: rather than apply for sequential project funding, flexible funds can be allocated over the longer term to agencies that show each of the above steps alongside independently verified evidence of success. Through this model, funding tranches can be planned into the medium to long-term under the understanding that specific allocations will be made to successful partnerships and withdrawn where limited success is shown. Overseeing this will require a combination of fund and technical management skills in the donor and implementing partners.

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  • A day in the life of Tillotama and Rabinarayana

    Ananta Prasad

    September 2nd, 2015

    By Ananta Prasad & Warwick Franklin

    Yesterday we visited two communities who will be included under a new water and sanitation project in Odisha, India. Leaving the hotel at 4.30am(!), we first arrived at Gurujang Jabardastpur in Khurda Municipality while it was still dark. Everyone was still asleep and the silence was deafening. The only noise being the barking of the semi wild dogs that patrolled the single street.

    Rabi Narayan & Tillotama Sahu Our first impression was of a few old people walking down the street with small pots carrying water. As we followed them, we could see a number of men defecating in the nearby field.

    Gradually as the sun came up, families awoke, began to light their indoor cooking stoves, wash off the dishes at the open wells and go to the field which they used as their toilets.

    We were invited to spend the morning with Mr & Mrs Rabi Narayan Sahu and Tillotama Sahu, and their young daughter (16) and son (7).  They were happy for us to film and photograph their daily routine.

    They showed us the well that they shared with five other families for all their household needs such as cooking, cleaning and drinking, and told us of having to go to a plot of land behind the house which was used as a toilet. Mrs Sahu explained that she and her daughter only went there in the early morning and evening to avoid male eyes. However, this brought with it the danger of snakes (particularly deadly cobras) and insects. They have to collect 35-40 bucket loads of water a day for the household.

    We saw the son leave for school and the daughter (who finished school last year, because they could not afford her education) begin to clean the house and prepare their food on a smoky clay stove, which filled our eyes and throats with choking fumes.

    Mrs Sahu working on her loom

    Mrs Sahu then explained her weaving work on a hand loom. Mr Sahu was then preparing to leave in search of work as a daily labourer.  She could earn 80p from making a saree  (5 hour’s work) while he could earn £3 per day for 8-10 hours physically exhausting toil. However, there was no guarantee of his getting such work.

    Mr Sahu explained that they had no savings and they spent what little they earned on food, electricity (a few light bulbs, two fans and a TV), medicines and the education costs for his son.

    Mrs Sahu and her husband looked forward to escaping from the shame of open defecation and the availability of clean water.

    We all felt a privilege to have been able to share a few hours with this family and look forward to their being part of the new project and enjoying a significant improvement to their daily lives.

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  • Factors make a case successful or failure

    Mokhlesur Rahman

    August 22nd, 2015

    Whenever we pay any field visit to see the intervention at the ground or understand how our beneficiaries are being helped, we always get stuck to one point ‘what works and what does not’. We realize that it is not a generalizable issue. It works very individual level. It also shaped by power structure of the community. As poverty is a multi-dimensional aspect, therefore, the factors that may help one person to get out of poverty may not work others.

    In a recent field visit to our largest project Shiree in Gangachora Upazila of Rangpur division, I personally observed some interlinked psycho-social parameters that contribute beneficiary to become successful or failure to get out of poverty. Even process of intervention supports are similar to everyone, but results and impacts have significant variations.

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    The author is interacting with project beneficiary

     

    During the visit, I talked with number of project beneficiaries in the said location.  Based on the observation, in this post, I would like to focus dynamism of the problem and psycho-social parameters that contribute beneficiary to be successful (or even failure) in his or her livelihood endeavor.

    Some of the factors contribute to failure:

    As I observed, in brief, following are the elements for which the beneficiary could not secure expected progress as follows;

    • Dowry
    • Intra-household gender relation
    • Sickness ( physical unfitness)
    • Gendered exploitation in the society

    The first case we found is a divorcee mid-aged woman, who has been living with her mother in a river embankment in the said area. Her husband was working as guard in a cinema hall. He demanded BDT 30 Thousand as dowry which her family could not met. Thus, he divorced her but it was done through a cheating process. Her husband took her signature in a paper which he mentioned was for taking loan from a micro finance agency. But later she realized that it was divorce paper, in conspiracy with local marriage registry office, he cheated her and got married with another woman. She did not go to police station or any local elites as she believes nobody thinks for poor people rather it may welcome further problem. As in her words,

    Ki hoibo matbor ba thanay gele? Goriber jonno kei nai (nothing will happen if I go to local leaders or police station. Nobody is there to help poor people.

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    The beneficiary is sharing her life struggles including how her husband divorced her

     

    Since then Yesmin has been living with her mother in maternal house with her 4 years old son. She has another sister who has some sort of mental disorder, and only brother lives in Dhaka and works in readymade garments. He hardly helps them. In his word; “how can I help three people by one’s earning? ” Thus, she leads a traumatized life because of cheating by her husband, got affected by some diseases like asthma and found no hope to regain her life spirit.

    However, Practical Action, Bangladesh through local NGO (UDPS) has selected her as beneficiary in 2012 and decided to provide supports so that she could uplift herself. She was given supports for pumpkin cultivation (in 100 pits) like many other female farmers. Initially, the pumpkin plant was good but after few days of work she became sick as her asthmatic problem was increased. Therefore, she contracted (on 50-50 crop sharing condition) another male farmer who could provide physical labour, but unfortunately he also cheated her while sharing the crops. Therefore, when she received supports from the project second time and she tried to do the cultivation by herself and her mother. Most of the works at field were done by her mother. It was not easy job for them. However, they were happy as at the end, they got good harvest of pumpkin, and sold them by 3000 Taka. By the income, she circumcised her son and maintained some other family expenses.

    Later when GMS (Graduate Monitoring Survey) identified her as less progressed beneficiary, project came up with further support. In April 2015, she was given a heifer (worth of BDT 13700; 13000 from the project and 700 was own contribution). Now, they are rearing it and hoping for good return from it.

     

    Factors contribute to success:

    Through interaction and observation, I found some factors that play significant role in uplifting beneficiaries’ economic status (including overall living standard).  Besides the support selection process, there are some socio-cultural and health issues that determined final outcome of the intervention at individual level. Some of such socio-cultural and health issues are mentioned below;

    • Relationship with family members and relatives
    • Supports from family members (son and daughter in law)
    • Alternative option for earning even for some times
    • Not consuming capital assets at any circumstance/ earning from sources to meeting daily expenditure
    • Physical fitness
    • Aggressive attempts to help own self

    How the above issues work at a individual level can be discussed by case studies description. Masuma Begum (60 +) is a beneficiary of the same project who has received a heifer support (worth of 1331o) in March 2013. Since then she has been rearing it. In the meantime, it gave birth a heifer and will give another one soon. The cow gave milk around five months. They sold the milk to the market and earned around BDT 5000. She bought a goat by 2500 Taka and some hens by Taka 600 and spent rest of the amount to build a cowshed. Now she has the following livestock;

    Cattle Present market value
    1. Cow 35000.00
    2. Heifer 20,000.00
    3. She goat 5,000.00
    4. Hen 1800
    Total 78,000.00

     

    Her only one son and wife of her son help her for maintaining and nurturing the livestock. When she goes to work or relatives’ house, they look after the livestock. This is not very common practices in normal circumstances. Therefore, I met her son and asked him what motivate him to extend such help. What I got as response was really surprising. He mentioned that

    dekhen, ami to ekmatro sontan! Uni to ar asob kobore niye jabena. Sob kichu to Amari thakbe. (look, I am her only son. She will not take these to grave. Everything will be mine.)

    Similarly, we met another beneficiary who has 19 goats who used to get cordial support from her neighbor and relatives. She never married and use to consider her goats as children. She loves rearing goats a lot, the goats also listen her call; which we found very inspiring!   

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    The author is listening to struggles of a beneficiary

     

      Concluding reflection:

    As a development professional, we need to understand how things operate at the community level. Our better understanding would help design or redesign appropriate intervention modalities, and can potentially enhance positive impacts on beneficiaries.

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  • This slum was nothing like I expected

    Elizabeth Dunn

    August 21st, 2015

    I’ve just come to the end of a 10 day visit to Bangladesh, it was my first time to the country and I feel privileged to have been able to go and visit such a beautiful place and meet such remarkable people. What I like about working for Practical Action is that it works in partnership with communities and organisations to drive change and improve lives. And this is exactly what I saw in Bangladesh.

    putulAs part of the visit, I went to slums in Faridpur and Jessore in the south. I’m lucky to have travelled and seen quite a lot of our projects but I’ve never seen any urban work before and was very unsure what to expect.

    When people say the word slum, all the worst images come to mind, I had visions of cramped communities, sewage running between them, a complete lack of water and sanitation, not to mention the terrible smells. I could not have been more wrong.

    I should tell you before I carry on that Practical Action has been working with these communities for a few years. The people living in the slums are considered to be the lowest caste, they are hindu and considered by many to be unclean and uneducated. This means that life is even harder for them as they do not have the same opportunities as others do. They have always carried out the most menial jobs such as street cleaning and pit emptying.

    Before the project began, I was told that there was no drainage, so during monsoon season the water would rise and would wash dirty water into their small homes.

     They also had no waste collection, so they had no other choice but to live amongst their own rubbish, or to dispose of it on the streets.

    There were no schools and many people had no skills meaning they struggled to gain employment.

    This project has worked with the women, children and men of these communities to truly lift themselves out of this poverty. They still live in cramped homes but the feeling of ‘community’ and unity amongst them was something rarely seen. They all work together to help each other and not only are their living conditions changing, the impact is much much bigger.

    Training in useful and vital skills means that people can earn an income, people just like Rashida. Rashida explained “at the beginning I had nothing. From Practical Action I had training and I was able to start my business with these skills.” Rashida was trained in tailoring, she makes tops, dresses, shirts and just about anything! This training means so much to her, she said “I can send my children to school and invest in the future.”

    I also met a lady called Sukia, she told me that “the environment of the slum is better than before,” they had less toilets and no water. They were forced to collect water from other sources but this water was often dirty. But now, they have their own pump, which means that they no longer have to risk their health just to have a drink.

    I left feeling uplifted and inspired. These people were empowered and had the knowledge to continue improving their own lives. It was a true example of sustainability and I will be telling everyone about the great work that Practical Action and our partners are doing to support the amazing, strong and welcoming people that are living in the slums. Just like Sukia said, “you and me make a difference together.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Happy Birthday to us!

    Paul Smith Lomas

    July 20th, 2015

    Last week I went to a rather unusual birthday party.  There was plenty of the ‘normal’ birthday party stuff  – lots of people came – all dressed up in their smart clothes, we had a cake and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’.

    What made it unusual was that it a party for an organisation rather than a person.  This year we’re celebrating 50 years of Practical Action’s work with technology challenging poverty.  To mark the event HRH The Prince of Wales, our patron, hosted a reception at Clarence House (his London residence  just across the road from Buckingham Palace).

    HRH The Prince of Wales with Grace Mukasa, David Nash, Thomas O'Loughlin and Verena Schumacher

    HRH The Prince of Wales with Grace Mukasa, David Nash, Thomas O’Loughlin and Verena Schumacher

    We were reminded how 50 years ago, our founder Fritz Schumacher launched a movement to change the way in which development aid was delivered.  Firstly he published an article in the Observer entitled “How to help them help themselves” pointing out the inadequacies of current aid policies based on large scale capital transfer. The following February the Intermediate Technology Development Group was formally registered as a non-government organisation – now of course renamed Practical Action. Schumacher’s seminal publication “Small is Beautiful – A Study of Economics as if People Mattered”, often cited as one of the most influential books of the 20th century, came later in 1973.

    From these simple beginnings Practical Action has grown to be the strong, relevant and effective organisation it is today.  Our unique mix of project work on the ground – working with communities to help them identify technological solutions to answer their needs in a sustainable way; systematically capturing our experiences and lessons, sharing them with people across the world; and working with policy makers to influence their decisions so that our work can reach many millions more than we could ever reach on our own.

    We still live and work with the same basic principles that inspired Schumacher’s words all those years ago. Our passion for Technology Justice remains true to that.

    50 years of Practical ActionAs is often the case, after meeting some of the many people who have been involved with Practical Action’s work in one way or another, I left the evening with a great sense of “walking on the shoulders of giants”.  I’m sure that I won’t be working for Practical Action in 50 years’ time, maybe Practical Action won’t .  However I’m sure that the principles and ideas that we stand by today will still be relevant as they are today and as they were 50 years ago.

    “Happy Birthday to us!”

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  • Supporters’ day out!

    On June 13th we held our annual Supporters’ day in London. Taking inspiration from our heritage the theme of the day was ‘Grassroots to Muddy boots’ it was a fantastic opportunity for supporters to get closer to the work their support has made possible – and what a day!

    Margaret Gardner opened the proceedings, followed by our Nepal Country Director, Achyut Luitel who gave an update on the recent Earthquake and, explained our involvement at present and going forward. There was an introduction from Muna Eltahir the new Sudan Country Director, who spoke about why she chose to work for Practical Action, and the work already achieved in Sudan.

    Supporters Day 2015

    Supporters Day 2015

    During lunch there was a drop in session giving supporters the opportunity to speak to our new Country Directors – Muna Eltahir, Sudan, Hasin Jahan, Bangladesh and Kudzai Marovanidze, Zimbabwe. We were also shown some great Technology Justice videos from the education team.

    Throughout the day we had some great workshops such as Doing it better led by Margaret Gardner and Kudzai Marovanidze, who spoke about Marula nut production in Zimbabwe. Supporters heard how we are working with women’s communities who earn their living from marula nut products.

    Supporters Day 2015Supporters Day 2015

    There was an interactive exercise that involved cracking Marula nuts using similar tools to the women in Zimbabwe.  The exercise highlighted the difficulties faced without the right equipment and support.

     

    Supporters Day 2015

    Rob Cartridge hosted a Project pitch session showing four short videos about Knowledge services in Bangladesh, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Peru. Supporters were asked ‘If they had £5K which project would they give it to?’

    Following the videos and the pitch about each one, they were then asked to vote – the winner was the Krishi call centre in Bangladesh. Supporters were really impressed with the examples they were shown and said “the work was amazing” and “I couldn’t believe it’s so cost effective”. 

    Everyone had a fantastic day and couldn’t wait to get home and spread the word – they were even tweeting from the venue.

    Supporters Day 2015

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  • Relief supplies arrive in Dhading, Nepal

    Amanda Ross

    May 15th, 2015

    Following the earthquake on 25th April, Practical Action’s Nepal team  has been working hard to help some of the devastated communities in Gorkha and Dhading.

    Distributing relief in DhadingWe’re focusing on:

    • Water treatment (to reduce deaths by disease, especially in infants)
    • Emergency shelters (for homes, and public facilities e.g. toilets)
    • Energy generation (lighting and heating, including for medical centres)
    • Solar communication technology (for mobile phone charging)

    Please help us deliver this help by donating to our appeal.

     

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  • Road to recovery after #NepalQuake

    Achyut Luitel

    May 8th, 2015

    I have witnessed some of the most notorious disasters and insurgencies in the recent times. The Operation Blue Star conducted in Golden Temple in Amritsar, India in 1984 was the first one when I got stranded for a week in Kashmir and luckily got a special train to leave Jammu for Delhi. For the first time in my life, I had seen violence and curfew.

    The same year I witnessed the Bhopal gas tragedy, while I was a second year engineering student in the same town. I was lucky to get unaffected, but have seen the climax of people being affected after methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant. I volunteered in the local hospital for a couple of days, and saw how people were dying and how mass cremation was being held without being able to consider their religious faith. Just a month earlier, I had witnessed brutal attack on Sikh communities following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

    EarthquakeAffectedDistricts

    Districts most affected by the earthquake (c) Kathmandu Living Labs

    However, the big earthquake which rocked central part of Nepal on 25 April 2015 is hard to explain. I was with my wife and daughter at home. Just before noon, the house started shaking brutally. My wife screamed and tried to run outside but I stopped and without any thinking, we all entered an adjacent room. I advised to calm down and asked to duck, cover and hold down near a big wooden cupboard thinking that it will be strong enough to protect us. Unfortunately the cupboard fell above us ramming my wife’s hand and daughter’s leg, but by chance my back came in between and prevented major injuries to them.

    We expected that it will stop in a while. But the tremor which was swinging from west to east occasionally started rotating and continued for two minutes. Never in my life have the two minutes been so long. My wife was literally crying thinking that we all will die. My daughter tried to console her saying it will be okay, we will be fine. I thought I was quite strong and kept telling to calm down. Once the tremor stopped, we rushed outside in an open ground where our neighbours were already there. We started looking around. The boundary wall of one of our neighbors had collapsed, while another neighbour’s house had multiple cracks. We stayed there for an hour or so. The aftershock kept coming in every 5 to 10 minutes. We tried to call our close relatives. Fortunately the phone was working for post-paid mobile numbers and we could get ‘survived’ news from some of our close relatives.

    Durbar square destroyed

    Kathmandu Durbar Square after the earthquake

    My parents were in the US but my wife’s parents were in Kathmandu living nearby us. Being worried about them, we closed the main door hurriedly and walked to their house. Surprisingly very few houses were damaged nearby, but we started getting stark images of our heritages like Dharahara and Durbar Square ruined to rubble through Twitter. We came to know that the quake’s magnitude was 7.9 Richter scale. My in-laws were also safe and had assembled in an open area together with their neighbours. We joined them and started taking stock of other relatives. I was speechless when one of my cousins told me that his brother died while he had gone to attend a meeting in a commercial complex near Kalanki in Kathmandu. My legs shivered and just could not hold off. My cousin who died was very close to me. We grew together in a joint family and lived happily for many years since my childhood until I got married. I just cannot explain the condition of his body when recovered from the complex. I had to helplessly witness his funeral and his family members. That was one of the most shocking pains in my life.

    Immediately after the weekend, we tried to behave normally by coming to the office and discussing with the colleagues on how we, the fortunate ones to survive, should help the victims, who lost their families and houses. Although Practical Action is not a relief organisation, we decided to work on relief and response. Our Head Office immediately decided to give us GBP 100,000 to initiate necessary response and recovery works. Our staffs who were all fortunate to survive together with their family members decided to contribute at least one week’s salary to the earthquake victims. That too was a big money amounting Rs 17 Lakh, equivalent to 11,000 GBP. Practical Action is not enlisted as a relief organisation and not a member of Disaster and Relief Committee (DEC) and Rapid Relief Forum (RRF). So, we have no access to relief fund though DFID has pledged GBP 22.8 million in assistance to respond to the quake victims. We have been successful to mobilise another GBP 100,000 from our partner, Christian Aid. Likewise, our supports and staff from other country and regional offices have also contributed.

    Gorkha Relief

    Distributing relief materials in Gorkha district

    We have limited money but the affected area and population is enormous. It was a very difficult decision to agree on our working area. We all felt that we should work with those communities who know us and where the organisation has a long presence. Therefore, we decided to focus ourselves in Gorkha and Dhading districts. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Gorkha, while Dhading is the adjacent district to the east, and both are considered as most affected districts. We coordinated with District Emergency Operation Centre (DEOC) and District Disaster Response Committee (DDRC) in both the districts, who assigned Ashrang, Borlang and Sorpani Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Gorkha and Jogimara, Jyamrung and Salyantar VDCs of Dhading district. We will expand beyond these VDCs once we have more resources and capacity. Beyond relief, we plan to engage in these areas for post recovery works to make sure that they have decent facilities and sustainable livelihood to cope with the adverse situations. The first relief package has already reached Gorkha while we are preparing to dispatch over 6000 tarpaulins, mattresses, water tanks, polythene pipes and food package within a week.

    We have a long term plan for post recovery. We are planning to concentrate on (i) shelter, (ii) WASH (water connection and latrine facilities) and (iii) energy (lighting and mobile charging). In medium term, we are exploring to support for earthquake resilient affordable shelters since over 90% houses are unusable. People use stone masonry with mud mortar in villages. Such structures are vulnerable when they face earthquake more than 6 Richter scale. Therefore, the challenge for us is to offer affordable resilient house building technologies as a medium term plan for recovery. We are collecting the models from our earlier experiences from Sri Lanka (Post Tsunami) and Peru. We are also exploring with other organisations having expertise in developing community shelters.

    I would like to emphasise that Practical Action will not leave any stone unturned to ensure the most needy have access to simpler technology with regard to shelter, water supply, sanitation and energy. I thank Practical Action Nepal staffs who have generously contributed over Rs 16 Lakh to complement our support to the people in need. I would also encourage our associates to join and contribute in whatever capacity you can. We will coordinate with the local authorities to make sure that we complement each other. We wish that all of our trauma of losses will soon subside and make us more resilient in the days to come.

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  • When generosity is the only attribute!

    Bhuwan Adhikari

    May 7th, 2015

    In the aftermath of Nepal’s mega earthquake and amidst incessant aftershocks, the Practical Action team here in Nepal are working hard to offer whatever in personal and professional capacities they can. All of us – as many as 82 professionals have all been affected in some way by the disaster’s destruction and have been doing all we can in such unprecedented nearly worst case scenario.

    6 May 2015At this time everybody’s goal is same but we are doing different things in different settings. After all, in a situation where whole state is screaming for rescue and relief, we are as if indifferent by virtue of our ability to bounce back from sorrows and trauma. We are working hard to reach the needy victims, form alliances with other organisations, sympathise and empathise with people’s feelings and contribute physically, mentally and financially.

    Our leadership so much engrossed in the emergency situation here, reaching out to people in the fullest capacity, and reminding me of my days in a human rights organisation when human rights violations and ethnic violence were rampant and urgent response was a high priority. To my surprise when everyone around me is so generous how can I seat just ideal? My seniors were coordinating resources and facilitating various channels to reach out to community. Our colleagues Buddhi Kumal is deployed in the forefront. My colleagues including Swarnima, Prabin G, Sachin and Milan were around ground zero zone for offering relief and rescue. Our DRR team is working at full throttle at ground level whilst all of us are being involved in various works that complement the undertakings of our experts.

    It is said that giving is always satisfying but when you have limited things to offer, generosity counts highly. The organisation itself has been urging all its teammates, donors and partners to express solidarity and to contribute in whatever capacity, so that needy people get sigh of relief and respite. Further to this, there are various stories of contribution in personal and professional capacities by our colleagues, domestic and universal coordination and appeals from relevant desk is all time high. This first-hand experience of generosity not only inspires but is catalytic in making the team more motivated to offer support and help. To be honest I was not as generous as I am right now.

    When leaders who better understand the organisation’s capacity and its strategic relevance are working 24/7, there is no need of other motivation and incentive. The sense of encouragement, the smell of generosity and cooperation is everywhere regardless of aims and themes. Standing tall as a rescue and relief providing entity needs much resource and expertise and our priority areas of reconstruction, rebuilding and resilience are waiting for more resources to pour in. However, we may be in short supply of resources but we are not in short supply of vision, value and vigour. The generosity with our sleeves rolled up for the relief work has made us a frontline organisation that focuses on immediate technological needs in regard to shelter, water supply and energy.

    I urge you all to be a part of our relief work. Please show your generosity by supporting our work.

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  • What I saw in Gorkha after the earthquake

    Upendra Shrestha

    May 5th, 2015

    I recently visited one of the severely earthquake affected districts – Gorkha which is also one of the project areas of Practical Action. When I was approaching Gorkha, I could easily see the effect – the hills were covered with orange or blue patches – tarpaulin which people are using as temporary shelter. The situation is panicking as aftershocks are still active. I could see fear in the peoples’ face when they feel the aftershock, escaping out of their vulnerable habitat.

    Temporary shelter made of orange and blue Tarpaulin

    Temporary shelter made of orange and blue Tarpaulin

    I managed to visit a nearby village (Paslang) in the municipality which is completely destroyed; there were 28 houses in the area and now only 4 are standing. The quake claimed two lives – a nine-month-pregnant woman and a month-old child. People are in dire need of shelter. They are managing somehow for food but for shelter they are waiting for the relief materials to reach their area.

    Sher Bahadur showing the spot where his 9 month pregnant daughter-in-law lost her life

    Sher Bahadur showing the spot where his 9 month pregnant daughter-in-law lost her life

    I was in the district headquarters and from the scene one could easily imagine what it could look like in the remote villages in terms of relief and rescue. The temporary shelter in the district headquarters is crowded. There is no provision of toilets as well as people are not concerned about maintaining the hygiene practices – hopefully they have more important things to think about. When I enquired to some of the active social workers who were getting updates from the villages – they said that none of the temporary shelters has toilet facilities.

    Woman sorting her belongings in the rubble at Paslang, Gorkha

    Woman sorting her belongings in the rubble at Paslang, Gorkha

    One could see lots of volunteers and development workers rushing in. It gives a feeling that they are competing with each other to get hold of the villages into their accounts but reaching to the sufferers is not at the expected level. It seems proper coordination among development worker is lacking which is a must – for Better Response.

    Practical Action is conducting relief activities in six Village Development Committees (VDCs), three each in Gorkha and Dhading districts. In the first phase, the relief activities are particularly focused on temporary shelter, water and sanitation including toilets, nutritional diets, energy for lighting and mobile phone charging. In the second phase, after 3 to 6 months, the initiatives will be focused on rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods with building back better activities.

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