When Sitabi and her husband lost their rice crop to flooding, they were able to rebuild thanks to Partnership for New Life, one of TEAR’s partners in Nepal. Through her PNL Self-Help Group, Sitabi accessed both the know-how and the credit to start a new crop - vegetables. Now their pumpkins and other vegetables are not only feeding their own family, but there’s enough to sell at the local market. What they earn is being invested in the next generation - paying their grandchildren’s school fees.
Sitabi family’s story is an all too familiar scenario unfolding in communities experiencing poverty today. A repeated situation where small scale farmers, especially women are dealing with the adverse effects of a changing climate on their food production and livelihood. In this instance, increased occurrences of flooding and unpredictable weather events highlight clearly the need for smallholder farmers such as Sitabi to adapt to climate smart agricultural practices including diversifying their crops.
In part to meet this need in the Terai (flat) area of Nepal near the Indian border, TEAR’s partner PNL shifted focus to a more community development approach in 2012-13. This has since led to the formation of 32 SHG groups mainly comprising of women as well as some men and people with disabilities. The Terai area is prone to flooding towards the end of the monsoon season. Highly fertile, and densely populated, each year some location here gets heavy rain and floods causing damage. However with increased population, deforestation of the Himalaya, climate change and a general lack of preparedness this flooding is increasingly leading to property and crop loss as well as to the loss of life.
Sitabi’s experience and that of her community is that through participation in the PNL established SHGs, they have witnessed a significant increase in community cohesion and resilience. In a recent report, a PNL staff member writes ‘We’ve seen from recent natural disasters that these groups are very effective at getting communities members to work together in response and recovery mainly because of the better links people have with each other, government and the skills in problem solving’.
Central to PNL’s work has been the training and support offered to small holder farmers to adapt to the growing impact of climate change on their households. As such, PNL’s work is a strong and growing example of how TEAR’s partners, in working to address global poverty in marginalised communities around the world are working now to directly strengthen the resilience of smallholder farms such as Sitabi’s to climate change impacts.