Enhancing rural livelihoods and improving the Social-economic Security of vulnerable communities
The project focused on four major groups of activities:
- Promote economically viable skills (both reviving traditional skills and introducing new ones);
- Promote development activities among specifically the Lhop community.
- Documentation of the agro-ecological knowledge, beliefs and practices of the Lhops.
- Institutional support for the Foundation.
Some of the achievements of the project under the four major groups of activities under Phase I are:
Promote economically viable skills
The Foundation has strong grassroots affiliations, and has 7 staff based within the target rural communities. These field staffs have been instrumental in helping communities identify and prioritize areas for capacity development. The project has supported the capacity development of 15 groups in 7 communities. These groups were provided with skills development training in producing indigenous crafts (traditional paper making, cane and bamboo products, nettle dyeing and weaving, cane and bamboo crafts, pottery) using local resource persons, as well as on producing new products (soaps and candles).
- Promote development activities among three target communities
The community of Lhops, are specifically targeted for income generating programs. These communities belong to the economically poor and hard-to-reach pockets of populations. In close collaboration with members from this community, economically viable products were identified. The Foundation through the project provided support in raw material collection (e.g. Daphne, nettle), including education on sustainable harvesting, and product development. Products from these target groups include nettle fabrics, candles and soaps, and traditional paper products. Small scale samples of these products have been market-tested and promoted through providing various forums for contacts with potential consumers (National Crafts Festival, annual Tarayana Foundation fairs, sales counter in the capital, work sheds in the communities). A few luxury hotel chains in the country have begun placing regular demands for nettle products and candles, which is expected to also gradually lead to a market outside of the country.
Although not directly linked to income generation, an important area of skills development was traditional house building. Specifically in the communities of the Lhops, basic shelter was a dire need. Training on basic carpentry skills were provided using resource persons from nearby communities, and practical training in house building has led to proper homes for several families. The practice is being replicated, with a member from each household contributing labor for each other on a rotation basis. By the end of 2007, 32 families in the Lhop community had proper shelter.
- Institutional Support for the Foundation
The project started at a time when the Foundation was only one and a half years into its establishment. It was beginning to establish a firm organizational set-up, as well as to commence a long-term strategic plan. It was, therefore, felt necessary to complement the support for the Foundation’s core programmes with institutional capacity development. The project supported the short term training in the region of two field staff in cane and bamboo technology; procurement of office equipment; and operational expenses of the Foundation Secretariat.
The Foundation has succeeded in advocating on behalf of the pockets of rural communities that it has been engaged with. It has brought attention to the plight of these communities through video documentations (broadcasted on national television), personal stories (regularly updated on the Foundation website), and in national discussion forums. Additionally, the Foundation continues to promote the indigenous knowledge and skills of rural communities through high profile forums like its annual fairs.
With support from the Foundation, a network of young volunteers in schools has been established to provide volunteer social services in communities where they live. These groups have been involved in raising funds, identifying areas of intervention, and helping in implementing project activities.