Pact began working in Nepal in 1988 and has played a critical role in improving literacy, citizen engagement and the economic and social status of women and other marginalized groups in the country.
Nepal is the birthplace of Pact’s award-winning WORTH program, which brings women together in groups of 20 to 25 to learn how to save money and start small businesses. They use the savings to make loans to fellow members, and with credit and interest earnings, they grow their businesses and launch new ones. WORTH groups also receive literacy, numeracy and technical training, such as best farming practices. Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than 200,000 Nepalese women have taken part.
A pioneering WORTH member from the model's early days.
In 2012, Pact began implementing Sajhedari Bikaas, USAID's flagship integrated governance project, which is empowering communities to achieve inclusive and effective local development. Nepali for “partnership for local development,” Sajhedari Bikaas began in six districts of Nepal’s mid and far western regions: Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Surkhet. After earthquakes devastated Nepal in 2015, Pact responded by expanding Sajhedari to six recovery districts in the central and western regions: Dhading, Dolakha, Gorkha, Lamjung, Makwanpur and Ramechap.
Villagers prime an irrigation pump, part of a Sajhedari infrastructure project.
Drawing on Sajhedari's integrated approach, Pact's post-earthquake work places communities at the center of recovery efforts, ensuring local ownership and sustainability of results. Pact’s approach is based on the premise that how the rebuilding in recovery districts takes place is as important as what is rebuilt. For instance, in rebuilding drinking water and irrigation systems, roads, trails, schools and other public infrastructure, Pact is keeping its focus on the governance systems and processes underlying the selection, implementation and maintenance of projects. We're supporting a range of local institutions and processes surrounding recovery, including facilitation of the post-disaster local planning process; capacity building of local government bodies; coordination of integrated service-delivery camps; citizen oversight and social accountability; and mitigation of grievances and disputes.
Sajhedari Bikaas works with both national and local partners, including Nepalese nonprofits that engage women, youth and other marginalized groups in planning and implementing development programs. By providing technical assistance to build capacity among local organizations, Pact is making a lasting difference in Nepal.
Pact’s accomplishments under Sajhedari Bikaas include:
- More than 33,000 citizens trained on local governance and planning
- More than 8,000 women participating in approximately 325 WORTH groups
- Nearly 10,000 mediation cases successfully resolved
- More than 3,000 community mediators trained
- Approximately 1,700 youths trained and taking part in 115 youth groups
- 60 small-scale infrastructure projects and 22 social initiatives completed, benefitting approximately 100,000 people
- 18 Nepali radio stations broadcasting project messages
- 23 local and national partner organizations strengthened
Members look on as an outgoing officer welcomes a new one at the start of a WORTH banking cycle.