Farmer field schools build resilence

Twenty-six year old Manju Chaudhari lives in Bangaun village in the flood plains of the Karnali river basin in Nepal with six family members, including her two children.

Flash flooding is a reoccuring problem here. The community often only get three hours warning of imminent flooding. In recent years  Manju and her family have suffered large losses from flooding. Expensive livestock were killed and their home and food store damaged. The family had to take out loans to recover. 

Manju’s family make a living by cultivating cereal crops and her husband travels to India for seasonal work. This income hardly meets their basic household needs and children’s education. The uncertainty caused by the floods was a constant source of stress for the family.

Farmer field schools provide a place to learn new techniques and to offer practical advice to farmers to build their resilience to flooding. Technical staff visit regularly throughout the year to assist farmers to grow seasonal crops and vegetables. The field school gives farmers the confidence to try out new markets.  Manju now cultivates a wider variety of crops adding diversity to family meals as well as providing extra income to supplement crop losses during the monsoon.

Building resilient structures

Manju invested her extra income to increase her resilience to flooding. She built a new house with a raised plinth to stop flood waters from entering. The family also invested in raising their grain storage inside the house.  This will give them greater food and income security. They have also constructed a bio-gas plant . During the dry season biogas reduces the drudgery of collecting firewood, giving Manju more time to spend with her children, crops and community.

Manju can now afford health insurance for her children, as well as investing in their education. She is an active member of her community, serving as treasurer to the Community Disaster Management Committee. The combined efforts of the members of this community have transformed livelihoods and improved community resilience.

But there is much still to do to ensure no one is left behind. Manju still faces uncertainty about future flood hazards but knows her family are now better able to cope. She is confident in her family’s ability to recover and build back better with the skills and experiences she had gained.  

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