Water Transforms Village Life
Torrential monsoon downpours have supported production of rice, millet and corn by Nepalese subsistence farmers on terraced hillsides for generations. Winter drought, though, turns muddy rice paddies into dry dusty shelves – and even domestic water is scarce.
The average Nepali farmer produces the equivalent of $200 annually from grain production, barely enough to provide a meager diet and less than what’s necessary for a family to survive, much less thrive – making Nepal one of the poorest countries in the world.
Small village water distribution systems are bringing opportunity and hope to millions of rural farmers in Nepal – and around the globe. Year-round access to water makes possible the production of high-value off-season crops – and eliminates the women’s chore of searching for and carrying water several hours a day.
In an area about the size of a two-car garage, and with an investment of $25 in a drip irrigation kit, Nepalese farmers are mastering the art of vegetable production year-round – and doubling their incomes. As savvy entrepreneurs, they soon realize they can triple or quadruple their income by cultivating more land.
In 2010 Montview worktrippers funded and helped with the installation of a reservoir and water distribution system in the remote village of Mahja Badahare. With training and support from our colleagues at iDE (International Development Enterprises – http://www.ideorg.org) our farmer friends’ average income had risen to $1,000 annually when we returned for a visit in 2012! When we asked the women what major difference water had brought to their lives, they replied in a chorus: more sleep! The village men, many of whom had been going abroad to perform menial jobs for meager wages in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, had returned home to live with their families. Farming could now provide more income than overseas work.
Miles Of Pipe Cost Piles Of Money (Even In Nepal)
A Montview group has worked to install two more village water projects. “Our” villages have large populations of Dalit and Magar (untouchable caste), folks that struggle more than most due to the stigma of their heritage. In Naudanda the nearest reliable water source is almost five miles distant. Needless-to-say, the villagers have a backbreaking job to fulfill their commitment to lay miles of PVC pipe 24” underground between September and Thanksgiving. Our pledge is to fund $12,000 in hard costs for the Naudanda project plus $4,000 for a second, less grandiose project in Sirwani (near our 2010 project).