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Six months ago, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal. Heifer International and Heifer Nepal immediately acted to provide temporary shelter supplies to nearly 23,000 families in 97 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and across 13 districts who lost their homes and livelihoods.

Members of Heifer's Self-Help Groups and Cooperatives played a key role in immediate relief support before government or other assistance arrived, ensuring distributions went smoothly and each family received some support.

After those immediate needs were met by Heifer and other relief organizations working in the country, and because it was clear the rebuilding and recovery would require a long-term approach, Heifer established a revolving fund for communities that saw the worst damage. Participants advocated for this approach and felt it would allow the communities to make joint decisions about how to best distribute and utilize funds. 

The fund is interest-free for two years. Participants will begin to pay back the funds 12 months after the initial loan, and all money will stay in the community to provide continuous support in the future. Cash flow in the communities will help boost the local economies, ensuring recovery is happening across communities and not in isolated pockets.  

Reports from Nepal are showing our approach is having a large impact on helping farmers recover.  

  • Muralibhanjyang village in Dhading district—where much of the damage to Heifer projects was concentrated—has the highest number of beneficiaries receiving support funds. Among them, 35 percent of the beneficiaries used the fund for the purchase of small animals, while the remaining are using the loans to reconstruct their homes, animal sheds, and to buy agricultural tools, so they can return to farming and begin generating income.
  • Forty-five percent of the beneficiaries in Chainpur village in Dhading district used the funds to construct and improve their animal sheds. Most of the farmers have also bought animals that were lost in the earthquake—both small and large livestock. Others in this area have used the funds to purchase seeds, and to either build or improve existing toilets and sanitation. 
  • The beneficiaries of the Kewalpur village, Dhading district, used the support fund for home rebuilding, shed improvement and construction, for the purchase of fertilizers, seeds, and to restock livestock that were lost.  
  • Fifty percent of the beneficiaries in Panchakanya village, Nuwakot district, used the funds for the construction of safe shelter. Loans were also taken for shed improvements and construction, while 10 percent of participant have taken loans to buy seeds, and nine percent for the purchase of agriculture equipment/tools. 

The path to full recovery will be a long one, but already Heifer participants are well on their way to rebuilding what was lost. We will continue to update the progress of these families. 

Author

Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.