This post was written by Luke Colavito, the iDE Country Director for Nepal. The photos were taken by Bimala Rai Colavito, an iDE Volunteer. It is the third in a series of posts on the MAWTW project. Read the first post here and the second post here.
By project closeout, the MAWTW project helped over 10,000 farmers (93 percent women) to become commercial vegetable farmers, increasing their annual income by over $200. MAWTW also enabled 40 women to become entrepreneurs and 377 women to take management roles in 60 Multiple Use Water Systems (MUS) and 14 rural vegetable Collection Centers developed by MAWTW.
Reflections and Next Directions
I participated in the closing workshop of the MAWTW project, which was held in Dhangadi, a major city in the far west of Nepal, on February 29, 2016, the day the project officially ended. The workshop included about 60 people, including about 20 women from rural communities that benefited from MAWTW. Attendees included farmers, entrepreneurs, collection center managers, members of MUS committees, private sector district partners, government officials, and implementers of other development projects.
I've been working in Nepal continuously since 2003 for agricultural development projects. I've been to a number of closing workshops, and many times farmers and stakeholders end up feeling like the project has ended too early. I thought that the MAWTW workshop would also have this feel, since it was a relatively short project (three years in length).
I was amazed and deeply touched that the representatives from the MAWTW communities wanted the opportunity to express how much they appreciated the work carried out in organizing collection centers, multiple use water systems (MUS), and training farmers and entrepreneurs. I was also encouraged by the results and enthusiasm of the private sector in changing from passive marketing at district capitals to actively promoting their products through the last-mile supply chain approach that MAWTW supported. Finally, I was struck by the sense of ownership and partnership expressed by the government officials. The government has provided the resources to construct collection centers and provided very substantial matching funds for the development of MUS and demonstration of technologies. By comparison, the USAID Smallholder Irrigation Market Initiative (SIMI) project, which started the MUS approach in Nepal in 2003 and for which I was the SIMI Team Leader, was a $9 million project that reached 70,000 households and developed about 100 MUS. MAWTW, with a budget of only $833,000, reached 10,000 households and developed 60 MUS in large part due to the investment from government, communities and the private sector.
MAWTW implementation team including iDE, SAPPROS, NTAG, Samjhauta and IWMI.
The workshop was closed by an official of the Department of Agriculture, the Plant Protection Officer of Khailali district, who had worked closely with MAWTW. He gave the clearest take on the role of projects to mobilize new opportunities and to support communities and farmers once they’ve learned about new opportunities to invest and lead. He also emphasized the role of government in providing continued technical support and resources. He gave a strong commitment on behalf of different government agencies to continue to backstop and help communities expand the work of MAWTW moving forward.
Kalpana Dhital led the MAWTW project in the field. Kalpana is now leading a new USAID project, Expanding Nepalese and Bhutanese Access to Indian Technologies for Agriculture (ENBAITA), that is being implemented by iDE in Far Western Nepal.
Kalpana Dhital, MAWTW Field Team Leader.
The Way Forward
We have learned a lot through MAWTW. We are still working to document the learnings, analyze the endline survey, and to understand the MAWTW approaches. We have a tremendous opportunity to build on the MAWTW work. iDE will have the opportunity utilize the institutional knowledge of staff and to build upon these approaches in several new projects including:
• The USAID PAHAL (2015 to 2019) Project supported by Food for Peace. iDE is leading the Agriculture Component of PAHAL with a target to reach over 150,000 households in 14 districts of mid- and far-west Nepal, including two of the MAWTW Districts. PAHAL has a GESI and climate resilient focus.
• The UKAID Anukulan-BRACED Project (2015 to 2017). iDE is leading Anukulan, which is a climate change project focused on agricultural resilience reaching 100,000 households. Anukulan is working in all three MAWTW districts.
• The USAID Expanding Nepalese and Bhutanese Access to Indian Technologies for Agriculture (ENBAITA) Project (2015 to 2018). ENBAITA is funded through the USAID India Partnership program supporting development of supply chains for agricultural technologies manufactured in India that will increase the incomes and productivity of Nepal's smallholder farmers. ENBAITA will reach 50,000 households in eight districts, including two MAWTW districts.
• The USAID Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab (2015 to 2018). This is a centrally-funded project to develop improved IPM packages and technologies for vegetable crops and to support training and supply chain development to support the Feed the Future initiative.
Particular areas that iDE will be building on from MAWTW include training for women CBFs. iDE is currently working with USAID’s INGENAES project to understand and improve training for CBFs and to build the capacity of women in leadership positions of collection centers, farmer groups and MUS. Utilizing the MAWTW approach, we will link nutrition and health training with agricultural development. The supply chains and collection centers initiated in MAWTW will be strengthened and built on by the new projects. New communities and households will be mobilized to join and make MAWTW collection centers and supply chains more profitable.
iDE is currently working in 11 countries, and we have a strong culture of sharing approaches and learnings across country programs. We have an annual meeting in June and technical working groups where we will share MAWTW work. More information coming soon!
Our next and final post in this series in about six weeks will feature a project video and the learnings and findings from the final MAWTW impact evaluation.