Nepal: Rebuilding livelihoods two years after earthquake

April 26, 2017

Nepal: Rebuilding livelihoods two years after earthquake

Two years ago, on 25 April 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area to the north of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Bhawanatha Paudel

Farmer Bhawanatha Paudel is rebuilding his livelihood with Trócaire support two years on from the Nepal earthquake. Photo credit: CordAid

This was the country’s worst disaster in living memory; nearly 9,000 people died, thousands more were injured, and 600,000 lost their homes and income. 

Over the last two years, Trócaire has worked in partnership with sister agency CAFOD to support local partners to rebuild schools, repair damaged water systems, and to run training workshops with people from affected communities, so they can build safer homes that can withstand earthquakes. 

New farming practices

We have also been working on some exciting projects that are helping people to rebuild their lives and get them earning a living again. 

Dhaibung and Laharepauwa are two remote Nepalese villages in Rasuwa district that were badly hit by the massive earthquake. 

The families in this area are traditional farmers, who have used livestock to work the steep hillsides and harvest crops. Many lost their homes and their cattle during the catastrophe. 

Together with Nepalese NGO Parivartan Patra and Dutch NGO CordAid, our programme has been supporting more than 2800 families in these villages. 

We are helping them to pick up farming again and earn an income. 

Each of the 18 village wards now have a handheld motorised mini-tractor.  

Using oxen or other livestock to plough the land was a slow and expensive process. Families were earning just enough to get by. But now – fully trained and using the machinery - the farmers have started to reap the many benefits. 

The farmers can now produce much more, enabling them to sell their food at market and commercialise their farms. 

They have also stopped using oxen to plough the hillsides. Previously, oxen would work for 4-5 months of the year, but the rest of the time they would still need to be fed and cared for. 

The farmers can now sell the oxen to others working in areas that are flatter and easier to plough. 

“Whereas before we would have to pay 15,000 Nepalese Rupees (around €134) for an ox to work in our fields, and it would take 12 hours to complete, now we can do the same work with a mini-tractor in about two hours, and it only costs us 5,000 Rupees,” explained Bhawanatha Paudel. 

63-year-old Bhawanatha (pictured above), one of the farmers benefiting from the mini-tractors, lives with his wife, three children, daughter in law and two grandchildren. 

Their home, located high up the hillside, was completely destroyed by the earthquake, forcing them into very difficult times as they struggled to get by. 

One of the benefits of the mini-tractors is that the farmers have time to do other things, and many are using the time to learn new skills and develop their farms.

“We have also been supported with polytunnel greenhouses, and training on how to grow vegetables without using lots of chemicals and pesticides. It all makes such a difference,” Bhawanatha told us, looking out over his steep terraces filled with tomatoes and cabbages.

“Our income has now increased so we have enrolled our grandchildren in a good school. Now they are wearing good clothes and have good food.”

But Bhawanatha has even bigger ambitions for the area. He recently set up a collection centre, where he and other local farmers can bring their extra vegetables to be sorted and taken together to market. He said: “I want to see the young migrants who left for work coming back and engaging with agriculture to benefit the whole of Nepal”.

Before distributing the mini-tractors, farmers were trained in how to use, maintain and repair them. One person in each ward has the responsibility of managing the mini-tractors, and money paid by farmers to loan them is used to repair or maintain the machines. 

“This is a real innovation here in the mountains” explained 42-year-old Lila Neupane from Laharepauwa village, another farmer who has been using and helping to distribute the mini-tractors. 

“I am also happy that the animals no longer need to do the heavy work they were forced to do for centuries,” he told us.

Bringing innovative techniques like these mini-tractors to remote communities is just one way we are helping people get back on their feet. 

With support from Trócaire, CordAid has also been helping villages in Rasuwa district with housing reconstruction and the building or restoring of toilets and water points which were all destroyed by the earthquake. 

It will take many years for Nepal to fully recover, but thanks to your donations, Trócaire’s partners have reached hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquakes. 

Trócaire supported 31,416 survivors of the Nepal to rebuild their lives last year.

Learn more about our response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake