Strengthening the livelihoods, civil society and community –based natural resources management of indigenous communities

Project site: Raksirang Rural Municipality ward no 6, 7 8 and 9 Makwanpur,

Project duration: 3 year (January, 2019- December, 2022)

The Chepang are one of Nepal’s most disadvantaged indigenous groups and are classified under the ‘highly marginalized’ category based on population size, language literacy rate, house type, landownership, occupation and access to education. They are semi-nomadic and have largely preserved their unique tribal identity by maintaining their traditional knowledge system and practice.

Chyo-bang literally means Chyo = hilltop and Bang = stone, reflects that they do live in hill-top and use stones for livelihood. They are also closely related to Raute and Raji tribes, two others marginalized (endangered) communities of Nepal (UNESCO 2009). The Chepang population is around 50,000 (0.23% of Nepal’s population) and is scattered mainly across the districts of Chitwan (40%), Makwanpur (29%), Dhading (20%) and Gorkha (5%).

Figure 1: Distribution of Chepang in Nepal

In Makawanpur, Raksirang, Khairang, Kalikatar, Dandakharka are the major villages where the Chepangs have long been living. Raksirang Rural Municipality is comprised of Khangada, Khairang, Sarikhet palase and Raksirang villages. Raksirang RM lies north to the East-West highway in the Chure Hills, and is mostly inhabited by the Chepangs, semi-nomadic forest dwellers and one of Nepal’s most neglected indigenous groups. Total area of the municipality is 235.7 square km and population is 26,122 in 2011 (CBS 2011) and 30,769 in 2018 (Raksirang Village Profile 2018). The area delineates north to Rorang RM, Dhading district, east to Kailash RM and Hetauda Sub metropolitan city, south to Manahari RM and west to Rapti municipality, Chitwan district. The RM stretches within elevation of 300 m to 2,300 m above sea level. The slash-and-burn, agriculture, wage labour, etc. are the major livelihood portfolios of the rural municipality. Because of the less land holding by Chepang communities, ninety percent of Chepangs live below the poverty line curtailed by little access to education or health services (NEFIN 2008).

Rationale of the project

This project is considered as the point of reference against which the future progress compared after intervention of the project operated by National forum for advocacy Nepal. This project will help to establish the baseline values for different indicators mentioned in result framework of the program. The project is mainly delivering the insights for achieving the target particularly focused on climate change, agroforestry and biodiversity. In order to improve the livelihood condition of the Chepang communities, increase the agriculture production and enhance the forest cover and biomass of Raksirang Rural Municipality, a project has been carried out by NAFAN, Kathmandu with the help of local communities. The overall impact of the project leads increased harmony of plants, people and places. To attain the outputs and outcomes in the given time and to monitor the progress and track the project in order, the baseline information of study area was drawn.

Objectives of the project

The Long-term development objective of the project is improved participatory natural resource management and reduced negative impacts of climate change through application of sustainable livelihood security and well-being of the poor and socially excluded Chepang and Tamang people, especially women, living in Raksirang Rural Municipality of Makwanpur District. But till date no observable impacts have been seen.  People have shown interest on how to adapt to climate change and improve their livelihood through improved agroforestry. We are just able to aware the local Chepang and Tamang communities about climate change, biodiversity conservation and agroforestry. People learned that through the plantation program they have started mitigation. The following long-term objective have been achieved in this short period of time:

  1. Local people have shown their interest to participate in conservation and livelihood related activities.
  2. They have formed local community-based organization i.e. Self Help Group, farmer groups and forest user groups which are the foundation for long term development.
  3. Forest user groups are organizing and mobilizing for conservation of biodiversity, protection of traditional knowledge and bio-cultural resources.
  4. The capacity building training is being very good tools to bring marginalized Chepnag and Tamang women in conservation and livelihood activities.
  5. Income generation activities are stated through farmer groups.
  1. Curriculum development on agro-forestry, biodiversity and climate change
  2. Awareness campaign on agro-forestry and climate change adaptation
  3. Support to chepang biocultural aspects
  4. Identification of land and species for plantation.
  5. Formation of farmers group, self-help groups
  6. Planation campaign using SALT technology
  7. Demonstration plots for NTFPs in two CF areas and Training to NTPFs collectors in sustainable harvesting.
  8. Training to youth for skill development (bee keeping, bamboo basket )
  9. Trail construction
  10. Trader farmer interface
  11. Revision of operational paln of CFUGs
  12. Organize CFUGs assembly to pass plan
  13. Training on bio-diversity monitoring to CFUGs leader
  14. Identification and demarcation of CF and biodiversity conservation.
  15. Biodiversity monitoring
  16. Workshop /interaction on with RRM board to solve land tenure issue of shifting cultivation land used by chepang and Tamang.
  17. Legal and advocacy training to community leaders
  18. SHG formulation
  19. SHG meeting
  20. Capacity building For SHG members (training on SHG, organization, leadership and record keeping 0)
  21. Preparation of long-term strategy and plan for RRM
  22. Livelihood related feasibility studies and, needs assessment and case studies

The project activities were started in mid-February 2019 by hiring the project staffs and orienting them. Firstly, the curriculum on climate change, agroforestry and biodiversity conservation was developed, published and distributed to social mobilizers and stakeholders. Awareness campaign on agroforestry and climate change adaptation was organized on different stages. Farmer’s group has been formed and training has been provided to them. Our project supported Nepal Chepang Association of Makwanpur for celebrating Nwagi festival by providing financial assistance and human resources. Some areas for plantation identified and 2760 seedlings of 14 species were planted. The work of demonstration plot is started in ward no. 8. 3 days goat farming training and 1-month bamboo chair making training is completed targeting youth for skill development. The operational plan of 22 community forests revision process is started and 5 plans are in the process of renewal. Two places were identified for biodiversity monitoring and training was given to local facilitators and CFUG members. Workshop about land tenure issues was organized by Nepal Chepang Association in collaboration with NAFAN. People were oriented about SHG, 4 SHGs are formed, 2 are registered. Baseline survey was completed. Staffs were oriented and trained. Review and reflection meeting was conducted. Social audit and financial audit were completed on time. Brochure, articles and NAFAN bulletin were published.

The main results are as follows:

  1. Local facilitator learned about climate change, biodiversity and agroforestry though the curriculum
  2. We were able to reach to 808 beneficiaries of RRM through awareness campaign and they learned knowledge about climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and agroforestry
  3. Four Farmer’s group were formed in one each in ward 6, 7, 8 and 9 and training was provided Local people learned to construct agriculture nursery and grow cash crops in their farm though the training
  4. Chepang community celebrated Nwagi Festival through NAFAN’s support
  5. One community forest area and one leasehold forest area were identified for plantation and 2760 seedlings of 14 different species has been planted in ward 6 and 8
  6. Nursery was constructed in demonstration for NTFPs in ward 8. List of species (53 species) to be planted in demonstration plot were identified.
  7. Goat farming training benefitted 33 local people of ward 8 and they learned idea about goat diseases, grass cultivation for goat farming and managed goat farming.
  8. Bamboo chair making training benefitted 20 local people of ward 7. They now produce bamboo chair and sell in the market.
  9. The operational plan revision process of 22 community forests is started and 5 plans are in the process of renewal.
  10. Facilitator and few members of forest user groups learn about process of biodiversity monitoring and conducting the activities
  11. Workshop about land tenure issues has encouraged Chepang to raise their voice for their land 12.SHGs have started saving money and giving loan.
  12. Baseline survey, feasibility of livelihood was conducted.
  13. NAFAN’s field staffs can now organize meeting themselves, write meeting minute and report of activities after the training
  14. Advisory committee members gave constructive feedback in meeting
  15. NAFAN’s contact office was set up in Chainpur. RRM is supporting continuously
  16. DFO has supported in plantation campaign by providing required seedlings