Field visit in Mugu to initiate the Innocent Foundation funded Nutrition Promotion Project
PHASE Nepal team members Raj Shahi (Project Manager) and Urmila Adhikari (Health Coordinator) visited Gamgadi in Mugu district in January 2016 to set up the Nutrition Promotion Project, recruit project staff and monitor the status of livelihood and health projects in Humla district. Mugu has one of the lowest Human Development Index rankings in Nepal and nutrition is this area is extremely poor. 60% of children under 5 suffer from stunted growth and 92% of households do not have secure food provisions. The Nutrition Promotion Programme will provide support to these isolated communities and increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition.
The PHASE Nepal team met with key district government stakeholders to share information about the health and nutrition promotion projects that will take place over 6 communities in Mugu. The project will focus on training female farmers in all-season vegetable production, as well as educating farmers about chicken-rearing and encouraging them to pass their new skills on to other members of the community. Child nutrition will be the main focus, through training mothers to prepare nutritional food for their families and to understand child health issues. Coordination with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders is important to the success of PHASE’s work, as other groups may be working in the same areas. The meetings allowed PHASE staff to understand the other organisations working the area and their various projects, preventing the risk of duplication of programmes. After a very successful stakeholders’ meeting in Mugu, all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders committed to supporting and cooperating at every stage of PHASE’s project.
The staff members for the Nutrition Promotion Programme were also carefully selected during the visit to Mugu. Out of a total 45 applicants, 23 were shortlisted for a written examination, followed by an interview by a panel, among which was a DDC (District Government) representative. Despite some political pressure at the beginning of the process, the examinations and interviews went ahead unhindered and 14 employees were selected: 3 JTAs, and 2 Social Mobilisers for the Nutrition project and 4 ANMs and 5 Social Mobilisers for the EcoHimal / ADA funded health project which is also due to start soon. The new team members will provide the necessary support to the community, allowing PHASE to achieve its aim of significantly improving health, food security and nutrition in Mugu within three years.
The visit to Mugu, although extremely successful, was cut short due to heavy snowfall, meaning that the PHASE Nepal team were unable to move to other areas. Infrastructural development in Mugu has been slow, further worsened by the armed conflict of 1996-2006, meaning that travel is extremely difficult in this area. The obstacle to the PHASE Nepal team’s visit is a reminder of the harsh conditions that Mugu communities are faced with and of the need for intensive support in this isolated region.