EU and Finland Ambassadors Visit RVWRMP in Humla and Darchula
RVWRMP had the honour of welcoming H.E. Ambassador of the European Union to Nepal, Ms. Nona Deprez and H.E. Ambassador of Finland to Nepal, Mr. Pertti Anttinen and their respective delegations to our project area. The mission participated in various activities during their four-day-visit in the two project districts of Humla and Darchula.
Day 1: Humla
The ambassadors began their mission with a helicopter flight to Namkha Rural Municipality (RM) in Humla to initiate two Solar Mini-grid schemes in Hilsa (100 kWp) and Yari (50 (kWp). Afterwards, they inaugurated the Chhatesi Water Supply and Sanitation scheme together with municipality officials and project staff. The scheme was completed as planned with private taps and a school tap. Then the delegation proceeded to fly to Apihimal RM in Darchula.
Day 2: Apihimal
After a good night’s sleep surrounded by the mountains of Apihimal, the ambassadors were invited to a meeting with the RM council members and officials, hosted by the chair Mr. Dharmanand Singh Manyal and vice-chair Ms. Urmila Bohara. In the meeting an introductory video of the surrounding project schemes was shown before the RM chair welcomed the guests with a poem made for this special occasion. It is enclosed below both in Nepali and English:
बस्तीमा बिहानको घाम बनि आइ दिनु भो धन्यबाद छ ।
मनको मजेरीमा हिउदको ताप दिनु भो फेरी धन्यबाद छ ।।
साझ नढल्दै चन्द्रमा आउने आशा देखेको छु त्यसको लागी फेरी पनि धन्यबाद छ
Thanks for coming as the morning glory for our remote settlements,
Again, thanks for providing warmness in our heart like the winter sun,
I expect the moon to rise before dusk, thanks for that as well.
Next, the RM officials discussed project related matters with the ambassadors. As closing words, H.E. Ms. Deprez encouraged cooperation between all stakeholders in creating WASH and Livelihoods components that complement each other. H.E. Mr. Anttinen thanked all participants for a special, warm welcome and noted his positive impression on tourism opportunities in Apihimal.
The ambassadors then proceeded to inaugurate three WSS schemes (Jhusku Chaud, Khattoli and Kurmul) before receiving a brief introduction to project supported sea buckthorn processing activities from the local Maldesh cooperative. The cooperative members had prepared sea buckthorn juice and the ambassadors were delighted to taste it. Both ambassadors expressed strong belief in its potential and committed to exploring future possibilities together. H.E. Mr. Anttinen was especially happy to taste the juice, as the same berries grow in his yard in Finland!
Thanks to project support, the number of cooperative members and income generation have increased greatly. In the future, the cooperative hopes to expand capacity with further support on marketing. The meeting at the RM office was closed by Mr. Manyal, who expressed his gratitude to all the donors and commitment to future collaboration.
Then the delegations visited the proposed Khalkot model village in the Kurmul scheme area. The community members welcomed the Ambassadors, taking all the necessary precautions and following all the necessary COVID-19 safety measures. Khalkot inhabitants proudly showed the water supply structures, such as reservoir tanks, source improvement and private taps as well as livelihood aspects, such as home gardens, fruit tree nurseries and polyhouses. The delegation then split in two, with the ambassadors continuing to the Kandeshwori school for the inauguration of the school tap combined with student and teacher interactions. The rest of the delegation continued to the Khattoli scheme area to hear the views of the local Dalit communities. Finally, the groups merged again at the RMSU to discuss their findings.
Day 3: Marma
The following morning began with a beautiful three-hour walk from Kandeshwori to Makarigad and a subsequent drive to Marma headquarters (Latinath) for a meeting with RM staff. In the meeting, ward chairs expressed their gratitude for improved access to clean water as well as support on sanitation and hygiene training. The RM vice-chair Ms. Bagmati Thagunna noted that especially women and children as well as discriminated caste members have benefitted from the project interventions.
H.E. Ms. Deprez stressed the importance of ensuring the sustainability of the structures as well as the governance system. The ward chairs agreed and commended the project structures for their good quality in comparison to previous efforts. Ms. Eloisa Astudillo, team leader of the EU delegation, noted that the vast amount of knowledge accumulated during the lifespan of the project should be collected for future benefit. She highlighted that not only technical staff and community members have valuable lessons learned but also RM officials.
H.E. Mr. Anttinen stated that sustainability and transparency are key for the final year of the project. His observation was that the huge amount of trust from government officials towards the project has been very beneficial to achieving targets. The meeting was closed by the RM chair Mr. Jaman Singh Dhami who agreed that he and his staff have learned a lot from the project and will try to use this knowledge to improve other sectors, such as health, forestry, and tourism. Finally, H.E. Ms. Deprez emphasized that the EU will continue to support Nepal, with emphasis on education, nutrition, health, and equality.
The delegation proceeded to observe the new chiuri (butter tree) processing machine run by the local Shivaling cooperative nearby. Finally, the delegation proceeded to inaugurate the Hade Padpada Water Supply and Sanitation scheme after monitoring its structures and impressive polyhouse yields of tomato and cucumber. The community also received gifts from the EU delegation as thanks for their warm welcome.
Day 4: Dadeldhura
The visit was concluded with a drive from Marma to the RVWRMP Project Support Unit in Dadeldhura. There, project staff introduced activities and discussed the current situation with the ambassadors. Notable topics included project modalities, livelihood activities, dignified menstruation management, knowledge collection and publication as well as planned activities for the final year.
Finally, the ambassadors thanked the project for a fruitful field trip. H.E. Mr. Anttinen concluded the meeting by congratulating all the project staff for bravely working throughout an exceptionally difficult year due to the uncertainties caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
RVWRMP would also like to thank the ambassadors and their delegations for a successful visit. Take-home messages include an intensified focus on livelihood activities as well as ensuring sustainability of structures for the final year and the collection of key lessons learnt from all the project stakeholders.