Sustainable agriculture with bazaar for advancing the livelihoods of conflict-affected poor people (SABAL)
Practical Action has been implementing SABAL (Sustainable Agriculture with Bazaar for Advancing the Livelihoods of conflict affected poor people) project since January 2008 with co-financing support from the European Union. The project aims to improve socio economic conditions, promote social harmony and rehabilitate the defunct basic service systems.
It applies two pronged approaches - starting with "confidence building activities" and leading to "quick return complementary livelihood activities" which is considered to be appropriate for post conflict development work. Target beneficiaries are the youths, dalits, ethnic minorities and marginalised communities comprising of women headed HHs, IDPs, ex-combatants, returnees, and survivors of conflict.
The project is implemented in partnership with Social Empowerment and Building Accessibility Centre (SEBAC) - Nepal in 26 VDCs of Achham, Doti and Kailali Districts.
In 2008 SABAL was launched organising district and VDC level inception meetings. The project started with repeated behavioural change interventions using psycho-social counseling through Community Peace Centres (CPCs), ward level discussion and Better Life Option Programme (BLOP) to reduce potential conflict and to reinforce the project's key messages. The CPCs are already showing promising results and qualitative analysis has yielded plentiful examples of local mediation of conflict. It is planned to link the most effective CPCs with the government initiated Local Peace Committees for sustainability and institutional support. Moreover, BLOP training to 1,800 youths as the local ambassadors for peace has helped to mobilise youths in the local peace building process and conflict mediation.
In the high conflict prone areas and amongst most vulnerable groups, the project has initiated capacity building activities for group enterprises such as community fish farming and riverbank farming. In addition to the technical support, these groups received training on good governance for equitable benefit sharing. There are altogether 51 community fish farming groups involving 786 HHs and 5 riverbank farming groups involving 133 HHs.
The project successfully demonstrated usefulness of the Participatory Market System Development (PMSD) approach in post conflict market development. Using the market mapping exercise, the project brought together diverse market actors and stakeholders to discuss common problems. The joint action planning facilitated and endorsed the community approach to build collection centres in key project sites through assistance from local government and other stakeholders. Riverbank farming in a short period has also yielded considerable benefits for landless dalits.
The project is currently analysing the promoted enterprises to ensure that the incomes are sustainable and the linkages and institutional structures created will remain to provide long term benefits for the poor. The project is also collecting a wide variety of qualitative data through case studies, interviews and participatory video on project impacts in peace building for wider dissemination.
Achieving impact at a scale
The project has already reached 9,300 HHs directly. The project will indirectly benefit 150,000 people from the neighbouring VDCs through its activities - development of 90 Local Resource Persons, 26 Community Agriculture and Livestock Assistants, 6 collection centres, 1,800 youth peace ambassadors, 52 street drama performances and the transformation brought through participatory engagements with the local market stakeholders.
The project is deeply engaged with the DADO and DDC, and regularly shares project approaches, impacts and results. The lessons from this project has been able to develop a clear understanding on some of the issues related to conflict affected market development, which will be useful in future programme development in peace building and conflict sensitive market development.
The project has tested and installed Multiple Use Systems (MUS) in areas where communities needed water for multiple uses. These systems were initially designed by IDE Nepal and the project has adapted them to suit the local requirements. The technology is designed to utilise local sources of water with a low cost storage and distribution system. The project is providing drinking water and water for irrigation for most needy rural and remote communities. Altogether 17 irrigation and drinking water systems rehabilitated, three rain water harvesting systems installed, and 52 plastic ponds and 811 individual irrigation systems (drip and sprinkler irrigation) were supported. The improved irrigation is providing facilities to 422 hectare of land benefiting 3,912 HHs. Read more about Multiple-Use water Systems and watch a short video case study
CASE STUDY Riverbank farming: a new practice
Chuwa VDC lies near the east west Mahendra highway of Kailali District. SABAL project started riverbank farming in this VDC to improve the livelihoods of freed bonded labours known as Kamaiyaas. Vegetable farming is promoted in two sites of the VDC; Baghmara where 22 members are involved in 'Mukta Kamaiya Bagar Kheti Samuha' and Piparkoti with 28 members involved in 'Charela Bagar Kheti Samuha (CBKS).'
"In the beginning, our team faced difficulty in convincing the landless to start farming in a riverbank because they did not believe that a riverbank could be fertile enough to grow vegetables," informs Tilak Bohara, Community Mobiliser. "We had to give many examples to convince them to start farming in the banks of Charela River."
The project supported the landless communities to promote cucurbit crops in 1.53 hectares of land. The landless farmers are now mainly growing watermelon, squash, cucumber and bottle gourd. "After planting vegetables they saw the produce and are now confident that they can survive by farming in riverbanks too," states Tilak.
Today the river banks are flourishing with vegetables and the farmers are selling their produce in the markets. "We never farmed in the riverbanks before; initially we did not believe we could. Now, we are able to earn significant amount of money by selling the vegetables. So, we decided to increase the area for farming in the coming year," opines Sashi Devi Chaudhary, Chairman, CBKS.
The notable practice we can see there is the barter system. People come to the production site in the river bank and exchange wheat with the same quantity of vegetables. The farmers are pleased with the land and consider it a gift of nature. This approach has shown that farming at the riverbank can contribute to poverty reduction if we treat it as a resource to benefit landless people.
"We used to work on daily wages and did not know where we would eat our next meal. Now, we do not worry. All the group members have started farming in the riverbanks," says Chhote Lal Dagaura, Chairman of another group. "We are now interested in cultivating vegetables by leasing more land from the earned income but we will need continued support."