The COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal has sparked serious health and economic crises, causing grave threats to food security for single mothers, people in disadvantaged communities, and low-income families in remote, geographically complex, and ultimately fragile Himalayan villages in the Solukhumbhu region. In response, The Small World launched a special program called Seeds of Hope for the disadvantaged and Covid-affected villages in the region.
Impacts of the Seeds of Hope program
- Building more resilient and inclusive food systems that will limit the impact of future pandemics
- Ensuring food and nutrition security
- Generating income and Market Management
- Growing organic products for better nutrition and educating people about its benefits
- Forming women’s groups to equally benefit the most vulnerable in every community
- Empowering local community through a leadership program
What Actions Have We Taken?
As an emergency response at the outset of the pandemic, we delivered twenty-plus varieties of seeds and greenhouse tunnels to hundreds of families. The delivery of these supplies was coupled with educational training sessions for community women’s groups on agriculture techniques, greenhouse construction and composting. As a result, the community was able to immediately start growing crops, and were soon able to feed their families during the COVID crisis and subsequent lockdowns. To date, several hundred people have been trained in sustainable farming techniques and greenhouse construction.
We recognize that in the face of increasing pressure from both the pandemic and the climate crisis, with the latter triggering weather conditions such as unusually heavy rains, an overly dry climate, and/or overall changes in seasons, our greenhouse tunnels will become very important. Food systems across the globe should hopefully become more resilient, more inclusive, and more oriented towards better health and nutrition for all — particularly for women and girls, as well as for all equity-seeking groups.
Through the Seeds of Hope Program, we will continue to empower marginalized farmers and livestock keepers to create an increase in the supply and consumption of quality foods for healthy diets. This will be accomplished through implementing progressive new tools, models, and approaches, and will ensure equitable access to nutritious food and a healthy diet. It will also support producing seeds at the local level and help to reduce food losses.
These initiatives address urgent local needs, focus on the most vulnerable people and communities, and stay true to our commitment to invest in grassroots level food systems.
The challenge is daunting, requiring immediate action while, at the same time, giving voice to underrepresented groups. We are committed to taking on this challenge and investing in the empowerment of local grassroots level farmers and livestock keepers to build more climate-resilient food systems.
Women’s Groups and Empowering Community on the Grassroots Level
What has proven to be very beneficial are the groups that we formed, each consisting of 25 women, with two key leaders from each group. The leaders are the liaisons between The Small World team and are encouraged to contact us for additional support from our experts. We have found that these women have very much enjoyed this arrangement because they can easily share their stories and problems and find solutions within their groups. Through this, the women are empowered to find workable solutions, build relationships, establish trust and independence, increase self-esteem, self-reliance, and are motivated to build a stronger community, which are all vital qualities – especially during the world pandemic.
Just as we have done in the past, The Small World will continue working directly with local experts on local issues, sharing knowledge for greater uptake, and mobilizing resources for lasting impact.
These investments in climate-resilient and inclusive food systems also align with the critical action areas identified by the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit.
In 2022 we aim to support and benefit over 500 families, or over 3,000 individuals with the average households having six family members.
The cost to support one family in the Seeds of Hope program is $200. This amount covers the cost of providing a family with more than 10 different kitchen garden seeds; training by an agriculture expert; a greenhouse tunnel; and support from The Small World in the form of group formation; leadership programs, and more.
$200 x 500 families = $100,000 annual program budget
Here are pictures of the families we helped in 2020. What joy is in their faces as they proudly display their beautiful crops!