Fish and fruit and feathered friends
Story from Sunsari under Sustainable Livelihoods
The Samaweshi group in Letang built a fire preparedness pond in the community, and have now stocked it with fish. As well as retaining water, the pond is also generating income for the group.
Letang is very vulnerable to fire hazards. There was no permanent way to collect and keep water to fight fires, especially during the summer (dry) season. Ghimire village is situated near a community forest, where community people have had previous experiences of fires and their effects. Every year, there is the possibility of forest fire, which affects biodiversity as well as the settlement nearby.
UMN's partner, Community Development Forum (CDF), organised a two-day Disaster Preparedness Workshop in the community. There they formed a community group called Samaveshi (Inclusive) and planned to build a fire preparedness pond in the nearby village. The land consists of rock and sand. The community worked very hard to prepare a very small pond, about 27m2.
Somnath Dhakal, a member of the group said: "We faced many challenges in retaining water in the pond. Villagers used to annoy us and say that our effort was worthless. We felt embarrassed. At that time, CDF and UMN started the "Local Initiatives to Strengthen Community Resilience (LIGHT) Project" and helped us to maintain the pond by providing NRP 40,000 (AUD 400) in 2012 and NRP 35,000 (AUD 350) in 2013. We expanded the area to 120m2 and improved it by concreting the walls. Also with this money, we bought 1000 fish and put them in the pond last month. We plan to sell those fish after a month, and hope to earn about NRP 50,000 (AUD 500) according to current market price. This amount will be deposited into our emergency relief fund. The group already has NRP 20,000 (AUD 200) in this fund. We have started to plant fruit trees around the pond too. Another future plan is to earn some money by selling fruit. Initially we kept fish in the pond in order to keep the water clean, but now group members have become optimistic about the opportunity. Different species of birds have started to come towards pond in search of water. Really those birds have become an ornament of the pond! Villagers who aren't members of the group are intending to join. They are ready to pay membership fees as determined by the group. We will conduct a group meeting to discuss new memberships soon. As a result of the pond, two other ponds have been prepared in two different communities, from their own contribution!"
Dhakal said that the LIGHT project really lit a lamp in community. The community itself can reduce general risks because group members have equipped with coping capacity.
By Nar Bahadur Limbu, Project Coordinator, LIGHT