The pump that brings life to the land
From malnutrition to self-sufficiency
In Nepal Practical Action is working with some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities, including "low caste" Dalit, who are traditionally landless and live in absolute poverty.
Central to this is the foot-driven treadle pump. This incredibly simple, effective irrigation system is literally bringing life to the land in the rural hills of Nepal - and to the thousands of families who rely on it.
Able to be operated by one or two adults, the treadle pump uses pedal power to suck water up from wells up to 7.5m deep at a rate of up to 18m3 per hour - that's six times more water than from a traditional hand pump. What's more, because leg muscles tire less than arm muscles, it can also be used by the farmers for longer. And because most of the parts are manufactured locally, it also brings much needed income to the local economy.
As well as providing practical help - like the treadle pump or other basic equipment - we also help Dalit families get on the first rung of a ladder out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency.
Working with a local project partner in Nepal, the first step is to negotiate the lease of a piece of land from a local landlord for between 10 to 15 families to farm. Practical Action not only guarantees the rent, but acts as an intermediary between landlord and tenants - the landlord being unlikely to negotiate with a Dalit because of their "lower" caste.
Helping families work together also means that they have greater bargaining power when it comes to selling their produce at the local market - much more than if they go it alone. The families then pay an increasing proportion of the rent, year on year, until they are able to take over the lease themselves and become self-sufficient. With your kind donation - we can help give more families this essential support.
How Mahima Gharti rescued her community through farming
Forced to flee from conflict in her native village, Mrs Mahima Gharti migrated to the Shanti-tole settlement in Kathmandu with her family to start afresh. But soon their dreams lay in tatters. Saline had rendered the 1/6th hectare of land they had bought barren. Faced with a heartbreaking choice, Mahima's husband was forced to leave his family behind and migrate to India to find work. Mahima was left to work as a labourer - and bring up their five children - alone.
But after hearing Practical Action staff talk at a village meeting, Mahima was determined to turn things around. After forming a women's farming group in Shanti-tole with five of the poorest families in the settlement, they found a suitable plot and set to work.
With the help of Practical Action, the women are now skilled in vegetable and seed cultivation. As Mahima told us, "We used to scatter seeds but, after training, I now know how to make nurseries and transplant into the main field." To her and her children's delight, this meant her husband could return home, where he now works the land using a treadle pump. Mahima's farming group have now set up a savings plan and are able to produce at least three crops a year. Mahima expects to earn around NPRs 10,000 a year (around £75) from her hard work - money that means her family will be able to stay together.
Access to the land reaps rich rewards
Raghu Raj Chaudhari lives with his wife and three children in Badariya in the Kailali district of South-west Nepal. With no land of his own, he worked as a daily labourer but his income was barely enough to feed his family, his children stopped attending school and he often had to borrow money.
With Practical Action's help a farmers' group of landless labourers was formed. Between them this group leased 24 kaththas (8,000 sq metres) of land and undertook training on improved methods of vegetable cultivation. They were also provided with seeds, fertilisers, spray tanks and a deep bore for irrigation.
Raghu describes how his life has changed. "I have been working on farms for the last 16 years but never had the opportunity to learn new methods of cultivation," he says. "With the training I can now grow both seasonal and out of season vegetables, raise nurseries and harvest vegetables at the right time."
He now reaps three harvests a year and makes a good income. He has purchased a water buffalo, replaced his rice straw roof with galvanised roofing sheets, re-admitted his children to school and no longer needs to borrow money.
|£10||could buy 100g of cauliflower seeds|
|£20||could pay for 200 polybags to help famers germinate their seeds|
|£50||could buy five kid goats, which will provide nutritious milk for a family|
|£62||could pay for a treadle pump - pumping vital water at a rate of 18m3 an hour|
|£100||could fund a pedal water pump to irrigate a large plot of land up to 1000m2|
|If you are able to make a gift today, another family could begin to beat starvation. Please give whatever you can.|
This work is part of Practical Action's Improving livelihood security of socially excluded communities in Nepal (ILISSCON) project.