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Social innovation projects in Nepal

VSO is implementing several pilot programmes to test and build a body of evidence for new approaches to local development.

Within Nepal's new federal structure, it's most important than ever to work at local levels. VSO listens to what marginalised people want and need. Where we believe our unique model can best support that, we work with beneficiaries and stakeholders to design innovative solutions, drawing on their knowledge and ideas and on the learning of VSO and our partners in Nepal and globally.

Children in Kathmandu, Nepal | VSO VSO/Peter Caton

Children in Kathmandu, Nepal

Project highlights: Turning ideas into impact

One Community, One Family

Officially nearly 10% of Nepal’s population works abroad – with many thousands more migrants uncounted in official statistics. Migration is highly attractive to those with few options for making a living. Yet it can come at a great cost.

Women and children left behind are at higher risk of exploitation, abuse and violence in many forms, with no support network to back them up. Even the return of a husband can escalate the risk of violence.

Many of Nepal’s migrants find themselves in heavy manual work, where they can face a violent, abusive and exploitative life with no rights. When they at last return home, they can bring their anger, aggression from years of abuse and a need to reassert themselves.

Funded by the What Works research fund, the One Community, One Family project (2016-2018) hypothesised that the experiences of migrants and the changing gender roles in migrant communities are driving a rise in violence against women and girls.

Working from the grassroots in Baglung District to central levels, and targeting both potential victims and perpetrators, the project tested whether psychosocial and livelihood support can prevent violence from occurring and can challenge wider acceptance of violence as a relationship norm.

A key output of this work is a series of manuals collectively known as Sammanit Jeevan, which means 'dignified life'. They are now available for download in both Nepali and English.

Women at a protest rally in a village in Nepal VSO/Peter Caton

Members of a women's empowerment group in a remote mountain village in Nepal.

Holding decision makers accountable through citizen-led monitoring

Community-led monitoring (CLM) is a proven approach to empowering marginalised communities to hold duty bearers to account for promoting people-centred development. Together with other like-minded organizations including Beyond Beijing Committee and the National Youth Council, VSO is producing events and strategic initiatives to pilot and develop new evidences on CLM in Nepal. 

This year a key focus for this work is on tracking Nepal’s progress toward the goals of sustainable development goal (SDG) 5 and strengthening gender equality at municipality level – particularly to reduce violence against women and girls. Working through youth networks and platforms, we first identify who are the most vulnerable to gender-based violence, and then we build the advocacy capacity of key national level partners to leverage new evidences and tools to strengthen SDG reporting and monitoring. 

VSO will also support the government of Nepal to prepare a report for the High Level Political Forum 2019 and continue to be a voice for gender rights in South Asia.

The next generation of social activists

Nepal is one of the participating countries of VSO’s £58m consortium contract with DFID to lead the International Citizen Service. This programme enables us to harness the energy and creativity of youth in Nepal and the UK to develop solutions to issues facing young people.

For example, adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education is strongly needed in Nepal, particularly in rural districts. We brought together 38 Nepali and 39 British youth in Baglung, trained them on the key issues, and invited them to co-create and implement ideas for their peers vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health issues.

Following an initiative that included peer education and community campaigns, the evaluation found increased SRH knowledge and confidence in discussing SRH issues amongst adolescents. They in turn showed early adoption of healthy SRH practices and increased willingness to confront socio-cultural norms such as traditional menstruation rituals.