Upendra Shrestha


Recommended reading: http://practicalaction.org/region_nepal

Posts by Upendra

  • DAIRY – Empowering women

    June 12th, 2019

    Few months back, I was visiting one of the project sites where we are supporting smallholder dairy farmers, particularly in better production techniques, access to improved breeds, improved extension services, and inclusive value chain development. During the trip I came across many smallholder dairy farmers – each one of them had a story to tell. One of them was Mina Bohora (39) from Madhyabindu Municipality – 4 of Chitwan District in Province 3.

    Mina with her cows.

    Mina, Treasurer of Panch Pandav Sahakari – a milk cooperative, has a herd of three cows and she sells 35 litres of milk every day to the cooperative. The cooperative collects 1,400 litres milk per day and supplies to the state owned Dairy Development Corporation (DDC). The cooperative also provides loan to farmers to purchase cattle with 14% interest rate. Mina, the sole breadwinner of the all women family of five daughters and an old mother-in-law, is now a role model for other smallholder farmers. However, it was not so few months back.

    Mina could not continue her study after eighth grade as she got married at an early age. Time passed by but when Mina alone had to take care of the whole family, life became miserable she thought of going abroad as a remittance earner. (Due to limited employment opportunity, lack of skill, assets and knowledge, youth in Nepal are attracted to going abroad mainly in the Middle East countries as migrant workers.) It was not easy for Mina to leave her all women family as she was the only bread winner. So, she changed her decision to go abroad and started looking for opportunities within her village.

    Operating feed mixing tool.

    Mina decided to rear cattle seeing other smallholder farmers making income by selling milk. She somehow managed some money to purchase two cows. She invested Nepali rupees 70 thousand for a Holstein cross and 40 thousand for a local breed. As he had never done cattle farming earlier she was not aware about the diseases, feed, cow sheds and other requirements to manage the farm. She was very happy after getting the cows and started dreaming a good future for her children. But within few years both the cows died because of a disease (mastitis). Mina cried over the losses and thought that was the end of her dream.

    Fortunately, before suffering from the disease, both the cows had given birth to a healthy calf each. Mina overcame the sorrow and provided her full effort in raising the two calves. She took advice from the fellow farmers and local veterinary clinic about the diseases and feed. The calves are now fully grown cows and somehow Mina managed to add one more cow. These three cows gave 25 litres milk per day but she was not satisfied with the kind of service and advice she was receiving. She was sure that there must be a way to increase the milk production from her cows.

    Mina now has better knowledge and says only feeding straw and grass is not adequate for better production.

    I am investing 7-8 thousand rupees per month in taking care of the cattle. With the increased income I am planning to send my 2 daughters who just completed the secondary school exam to a good college.

    Happy Mina with milk can.

    There were altogether 30 participants in these training out of which more than 40 per cent were women. Mina was selected as one of the leader farmers among the trainees.  As a leader farmer she is now guiding her fellow cattle farmers on disease management, feed mixing with minerals and vitamins, and sanitation and hygiene to prevent the diseases. Supported by the project, Mina is using a feed mixing tool for demonstration, fellow farmers are keen to learn about the tools, and even ready to purchase them as it saves feed mixing time and drudgery drastically. The saved time is used for other productive purposes or to get good rest. Mina also has some land where she has planted fodder, maize, mustard and paddy. Fodder, mustard and maize has helped her a lot in making her own feed for the cows. It has drastically reduced expenditure in the feed.

    With better access to knowledge and technology, and enhanced skills, now Mina is a confident and successful cattle farmer. Empowered by the project interventions, she not only decides the matters of the milk cooperative but also advises and shares her success mantra with other smallholder farmers.

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  • Weather information board enhancing community resilience

    May 9th, 2016

    This is a story of a youth Assistant Badghar Ashish Kumar Chaudhary (Badghar is an elected leader in Tharu community) from Tighara, Rajapur. He explains how the Zurich Foundation funded Nepal Flood Resilience Project (NFRP) weather board is helping his family and the villagers to take farming decisions.

    Assistant Badghar Ashish explaining about the usefulness of the weather information board

    Assistant Badghar Ashish explaining about the usefulness of the weather information board

    Ashish says:

    “Weather information board is very helpful, I check the board every day and particularly before planning for any agriculture farming and harvesting activity. Earlier my family used to harvest the paddy looking at the sky and making prediction about the weather. I still remember we lost paddy after the harvest many times due to rainfall since our prediction was wrong. But now I check the weather board and convey the message to the community so that they plan the farming and harvesting activity in an appropriate time when weather pattern is suitable. Due to the weather information we have been able to save our harvest which earlier used to be destroyed due to bad weather conditions. This has made the community more resilient to the floods and other hazards as good harvest means they can save the grain for difficult period.”

    Community members observing the weather information

    Community members observing the weather information

    For more information visit following links:

    Bidhya’s story

    Nepal Flood Resilience Project (NFRP)

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  • Knowledge for resilient livelihoods – Bidhya’s story

    April 27th, 2016

    This story dates back to couple of months ago when I visited one of the Practical Action projects in mid-west Nepal. Funded by the Zurich Foundation, the Nepal Flood Resilience Project (NFRP) is building the resilience of vulnerable communities to flood risks.

    Bidhya in her mushroom farm

    Bidhya in her mushroom farm

    I met a very enthusiastic beneficiary of the project – Ms Bidhya Kumari Chaudhary (28). During our conversation she was happy to describe how the project helped her to increase her resilience to flood.

    Bidhya lives in Rajapur, Bardiya with her 10-member family. Her husband is a contract farmer and income of her husband is scarcely sufficient to maintain the expenditure of the family members’ basic needs. Due to the low income of the family they were not able to make any saving from the income which they could utilise responding to their needs in hard times.

    However, now things have changed since Bidhya learned about mushroom farming from NFRP.  With this practical knowledge she started farming and since last year (2015) she was able to make 10 thousand Nepali rupees (around US$ 100) from it. She invested this income in goats.

    Bidhya with her goats

    Bidhya with her goats

    Now she has four goats as the goats she purchased gave birth to two kids. She earned another 10 thousand rupees from mushroom farming this year, out of which she invested six thousand rupees in her children’s education and household needs and saved four thousand rupees.

    This year Bidhya is planning to expand her mushroom farming and expects that she will be able to make a profit of 30 to 40 thousand rupees. To take her farm to a commercial level, she is now asking the NFRP to connect her with a good input service provider for mushroom seeds.


    How all these made Bidhya and her family resilient to floods

    Bidhya’s village is at risk of floods from the Karnali River every year during the monsoon season. Earlier, due to lack of savings the family was vulnerable to the effect of floods and used to take long time to revert back to the same socio-economic condition. But now since she has an extra income and savings, she thinks that it has increased the resilience of her family. She says,

    “With the increased income and savings I feel more resilient to floods and other hazards as I can use the savings to rebuild my livelihood.”

    Bidhya has become the vice president of the Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC). She understands the early warning system procedures established by the NFRP well and instructs fellow villagers about the early warning signals, communications channels, evacuation route and safer shelter.

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  • What I saw in Gorkha after the earthquake

    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.

    Please help our work in Nepal.

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  • An evening at Chilaw Lagoon

    November 17th, 2014

    Recently, I visited one of our project sites in Sri Lanka – the Chilaw Lagoon. The “Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihood Project” is working with the lagoon fishers to establish a model for community-led lagoon governance simultaneously addressing livelihoods and natural resources issues. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, UK which is directly benefiting 20,000 fisher families in Sri Lanka.


    Lagoon fishers in action – putting stake net

    We reached the lagoon in the evening, just in time to see the fishers arrive and put the stake net in the lagoon. They were geared with a locally made fishing craft, nets stakes and wig lamps. The leader of the group identified an appropriate place to put the net and the group started to fix the net as directed by the leader. It was almost dark by the time they completed fixing the net. For light, big wig lamps were hung above the net on the sticks – light is very important as the prawns and shrimps move towards the light.

    Putting stake net is very cumbersome and requires a lot of effort but the fishermen have fun and enjoy the whole process. Usually the net fixing activities start in the evening around 7 pm and they wait for the catch until there is sign of in-flow from the sea to lagoon.

    The stake net is placed according to out-flows (water moving from lagoon to sea) in the lagoon which is significantly affected by the cycles of the moon. On a full moon day, they fix about 8 stake-nets and will reduce to 1 or 2 during a normal moon day. During full moon, the out-flow (lagoon to sea) is higher and at this time fish and other aquatic creatures move towards the sea as they do not have to make any effort to reach the sea.

    The net is monitored frequently to collect the catch. They usually look for high value species like wild prawns and shrimps. They celebrate their first catch by cooking and consuming the catch in a three stone hearth by the side of the lagoon. They enjoy the first catch with a hearty laughter. This motivates them to stay awake during the night as well as provides them strength and nutrition.

    The first catch

    The first catch

    The whole process completes around mid-night. The collected catch then is sorted by the female members of the community. The middlemen wait until the catch is ready. They negotiate the price, make a payment to the fishers and take the catch to the market. A good catch can provide up to 40,000 Sri Lankan Rupees in a single day. The accumulated money is divided equally within the group members.

    The project is working with such lagoon fisher communities in 18 lagoons. The lagoon fisher communities are fully dependent in the lagoons for their livelihoods so they are aware of the importance in preserving those resources which they have been utilising since hundreds of years. The community management measures for equal distribution of fish harvesting and inclusion and exclusion of lagoon catch harvesters to reduce fishing pressure and controlled fishing are some of the significant practices in the communities for sustainable harvest. The lagoon is self-governed by the community and the project is building the capacity of the fishers as well as the relevant government officers from different decision making levels and lagoon fishery market chain actors for collaborative governance of the lagoon.

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  • Towards healthy informal waste workers in Nepal

    July 24th, 2014
    PRISM Supported IWWs

    PRISM supported IWWs

    Practical Action recently completed PRISM project funded by the European Union that aimed to enhance social protection of the informal workers and vulnerable groups dependent on solid waste for their livelihoods. The target beneficiaries are poorest of the poor in Nepal, they make make a living by selling materials they collect from dumpsites, bins and from along roadsides. The 36 month project was implemented in Kathmandu Valley and worked with 8,047 Informal Waste Workers (IWWs). The PRISM facilitated to achieve social protection and recognition to IWWs in Solid Waste Management (SWM) sector and helped to strengthen capacities of groups within informal waste workers for collective bargaining for better price; enhance their technical and entrepreneurial skills and introduced nine different social protection schemes for their better income and secured livelihood.

    As one of the schemes was to improve health care, PRISM collaborated with various local health service providing institutions for better access to the health services for IWWs. During the project period 2,775 IWWs benefited from improved health care services. This proved to be a successful model to provide enhanced health services to the IWWs which is one of the very important social protection schemes.

    This good practice is now being replicated in other municipalities in Nepal. Recently, in Chitwan, Practical Action facilitated to sign an agreement between Nagar Sarsafai, a private organisation and Narayani Community Hospital, Bharatpur to provide health access to 59 IWWS affiliated with Nagar Sarsafai. The IWWs will receive 50 per cent discount up to NPR. 50,000(1GBP = NPR 165) on all services offered by the hospital. Moreover, the hospital will also provide 15 per cent discount on the services to the family members of the IWWs. Similarly, IWWs of Sauraha, Chitwan are also receiving 50 per cent discount on health services available at a clinic run by Raj Medical and Clinic.

    Sustainability of the initiatives taken by the project and scaling up of good practices is a major focus of Practical Action in its project. PRISM has left a mark in the five municipalities of the Kathmandu Valley and has set an example for other municipalities to follow the good work.

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  • Highlighting the dangers of indoor smoke

    June 19th, 2012

    According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 2 million people die each year from diseases caused by indoor smoke from cooking fires.

    Practical Action, in a new partnership with Bosch Siemens Household Appliances (BSH) is working with communities in the high hills of Nepal to reduce the impact of indoor smoke. By installing Healthy Smoke Hoods this toxic smoke can be reduced by 82%. This technology also increases the stove’s efficiency, reducing firewood consumption.

    Practical Action and BSH are demonstrating this Healthy Hood technology at Rio+20 and have successfully engaged the attention of visitors, who are impressed with its simplicity and with the fact that it can be manufactured and maintained locally.

    Our stand is in the Technology in Action Pavilion, along with many other technological solutions, with a strong focus on energy, building materials and communications for emergencies.

    At an event on the stand on 16th June Siemens together with social entrepreneurship organisation Ashoka launched an empowering people award, which will focus on appropriate technology solutions for developing countries.

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  • The wind of change – decentralised energy system in remote village, Nepal

    Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, Kathmandu
    January 24th, 2012

    “Our children now even do their homework in the evening and we do our household chores” – “we do not have difficulties moving around the village in the night with provision of the street light” – “we now have televisions in our village – this has improved our access to information and children can enjoy the entertainment programmes”.

    A view of the wind-solar hybrid system in Hurhure Dada

    These are some quotes of our beneficiaries in Hurhure Dada, Nawalparsi – West Nepal where I recently visited. This village was declared as a Renewable Energy Village by Practical Action and provided various energy options to the villagers. The Dada top of the hill is a windy hill – Practical Action captured all year wind data of the Dada and installed five small scale wind turbines together with some solar PVs with support of Livelihood Forestry Programme of the DFID. The system provided solar lantern charging facility to the villagers. Earlier the villagers were depending on kerosene wick lamp for lighting which was unsafe and hazardous for health. Now, the village has 24 hour dedicated grid electricity supply covering 46 households from the wind-solar hybrid system. The windy Dada now has two 5 kW turbines and 2 kWp solar panels, which is first of its kind in Nepal. Although I was in remote village the 24 hours electricity supply made me happy since Kathmandu the capital of the country is under huge power cut (14 hours) in a day. This follow up project was implemented by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) of the government of Nepal with technical assistance of Practical Action and financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

    With facilitation of Practical Action the villagers are organised and establishing a cooperative to run this renewable energy system sustainably. The user group has already identified two individuals as operators who are currently under on-the-job training. The enthusiastic villagers are planning further to use the electricity for the productive end use during the off load time. This demonstrates the success of decentralised energy system and possibility of community managed wind and solar power harnessing in Nepal.

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  • Leasing land for food

    Nepal, Parche
    October 16th, 2011

    2011 Blog Action Day on 16 October – World Food Day – is, naturally, themed around food

    The hill and mountain districts of far and mid-western Nepal have been hit by persistent food insecurity. The agricultural produce is not sufficient for household consumption in many areas of the country due to high dependency on subsistence agriculture, very small land holdings, inequality in land holdings, low productivity, limited agricultural infrastructure, use of traditional tools and lack of appropriate technologies.

    In my recent visit to one of the Practical Action’s project sites in mid-west Nepal I saw a ray of hope where people were continuing the land leasing approach for food production introduced by Practical Action.

    A women land leasing group (Jhumka Land Leasing Group) sharing their experiences in mid-west Nepal

    Practical Action, with support of the European Union, implemented a food security project in this area, focusing on a land leasing approach targeting smallholder farmers who owns less than 0.05 hectare of land or are landless.

    The project has supported the group of small land-holding or landless farmers in accessing the land through a land leasing approach. The project has also people in accessing various appropriate agricultural technologies, extension services, agri-infrastructures and linking with markets.

    A survey indicated that the proportion of project households having food sufficiency for less than three months has been decreased to 6.7% from 58.3%. The study also revealed that the food sufficiency for three to six months, six to nine months and more than nine months have been increased to 41, 33.8 and 18.5% from 28, 10.7 and 2.9 per cent respectively.

    The smallholding farmers, who I met recently, were very happy and were continuously practicing the plastic house technology and micro irrigation technology in their leased land. They were receiving support from the local agro-vets and local resource people developed by the project. It is encouraging that from the selling of the vegetables and other agricultural produces, they were able to buy some pieces of land on their own where they can grow more produce to fulfill their food need.

    With this evidence, I think the land leasing approach can be a sustainable approach that can be replicated elsewhere while working with the smallholders or landless farmers to secure or improve their food security conditions.

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  • Bio-dykes saving lives

    February 24th, 2011

    Nepal is a disaster prone country exposed to the various types of recurring hazards like floods and landslides, causing annual loss of about 300 lives, and properties worth over one billion Nepali rupees. Every disaster has been leaving messages for an urgent need for mitigation measures and early warning systems.
    Practical Action in Nepal with financial support of the ECHO (DIPECHO) introduced bio-dykes as one of small scale mitigation components of its larger flood early warning system project. Earlier, the community people were not convinced that this small intervention really can protect them and their properties from the nasty floods. After testing this appropriate technology at some sites and seeing it working, community people were happy to replicate and scale it up to other vulnerable areas.
    Experience from these projects demonstrated that the sand filled bag works effectively than the rock filled gabion net. The technology is very simple and affordable; using bioengineering measures it protects the river bank from erosion and ultimately reduces the vulnerability of the marginalised poor ethnic people who usually settle near the river bank for their livelihoods.

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