VSO is one of the longest serving INGOs in Nepal. All told, we've worked in 59 of Nepal's 77 districts, partnering since 1964 with government ministries and line agencies, national commissions, NGOs, donors and communities to support those most in need.
In Nepal, our international and national volunteers support girls to access and thrive in education and life. They work with communities to prepare for, respond and recover from disasters. They help communities collaborate with authorities for better service provision. And our growing youth network is an active national voice on sustainable development in the country and beyond.
In 2017/18, our work in nine of Nepal's Hill, Terai and central Kathmandu Valley districts directly reached a total of 128,629 people.
Our Girls' Education Challenge project supported literacy, numeracy, and self-empowerment for 7,219 girls in 2017/18.
In 2017/18, we mobilised over 1,000 international, national and community volunteers in Inclusive Education and Inclusive Governance.
One of our key focuses in Nepal is making sure that poor and marginalised children in Nepal get their education – particularly girls.
Community volunteers are a key part of the approach, working within their own communities to challenge attitudes and affect change from within.
Sisters for Sisters' Education
Discrimination and cultural norms are keeping girls out of school in Nepal. Early marriage, domestic duties and menstrual taboos all mean that girls are either not showing up to class or else dropping out due to family pressures. Girls with disabilities face even greater barriers, often never having the chance for an education.
To address this, VSO's international and national education volunteers are working with local volunteers in dozens of communities to change attitudes and emphasise the value of educating girls.
Role models are powerful tools. VSO's Sisters for Sisters’ Education project is empowering adolescent girls by paring them with older women from the community to mentor them as their “Big Sister”.
We are also teaching teachers and school managers to understand and practice the inclusion, accountability and resilience skills that need to promote education for all.
Originally funded by UK Aid's Girls' Education Challenge, Sisters For Sisters is now in an exciting second phase that is focusing on helping the girls prepare for higher education, employment, and even enterpreneurship.
We choose to be educated rather than brides.
Little Sisters, Pokhara Bhnajyang, Surkhet
Results from Phase 1:
- 93.8% of the Little Sisters said that they liked the mentoring approach of the Sisters for Sisters project and thought it would help them stay in school.
- A comparison of two groups of girls showed that there was a significant difference in their study hours with Little Sisters studying more.
- Over 67% of the Little Sisters studied for 2 to 4 hours at home as compared to only 54% of other girls
- Little Sisters also experienced a significant boost in confidence owing to the counselling and motivation from the Big Sisters.
More information on Sisters for Sisters
Sisters for Sisters’ Education in Nepal is run in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Department of Education, managed by VSO and funded by the Department for International Development and the Million Hours Fund. Our implementing partners are Global Action Nepal and Aasaman Nepal.
Gender Equality & Social inclusion (GESI)
Nepal has one of the highest poverty rates in Asia, with 25% of people living below the poverty line*. Women are disproportionally impacted by poverty across the board, with poor women and girls facing greater poverty and violence, and lower literacy, health and economic empowerment, than poor men and boys.
VSO is working with disadvantaged communities to develop new and effective approaches to local development through the lens of gender. As a core approach, our volunteers listen to marginalised women and girls and their families and communities first, to understand the customs and norms that underlie gender and power dynamics, before then working with community members to develop interventions that make a difference.*Source: Asian Development Bank
One Community One Family
Official statistics show that 10% of Nepal’s population are working abroad (and many more unofficially). And this puts a strain on communities, generating issues with gender-based violence and prejudice. Families that are left behind are more vulnerable to abuse, and workers endure tough working conditions, violence and exploitation – which can increase the risk of becoming perpetrators.
VSO Nepal’s project One Community One Family (OCOF) is part of a Global Programme on Violence Against Women and Girls. Volunteers work with communities to bring to light issues surrounding gender, prejudice and sexual and reproductive health and rights for marginalised groups.
Recently, the OCOF project has changed the lives of eight community volunteers. The female volunteers say that they have become more confident and vocal, and that their relationships with their family members have improved after they involved in the project. Many of the men we work with are also reporting changes, becoming influencers in their own communities and changing them from within. One young man who is part of the project, Deepak, told us:
I feel that I am responsible towards my family and community.
Deepak, male participant of One Community One Family project
- OCOF reached a total of 538 participants from migrant communities
- Social Inclusion and Gender workshop carried out in five VSO working districts in Nepal were attended by 129 people, made up of 86 women and 43 men
- Positive impact of income generating activities (IGA) in women’s lives has been observed including increased participation of women in financial decision making at the household level.
- Financial independence is leading women to be confident to speak up against violence.
- Men have started doing household chores
- Young women and teenagers are now more vocal in discussing and bringing up issues related to their Sexual and Reproductive Health.
- Teenage girls and young married women were also seen discussing exclusion during menstruation within their peer groups.
More information on One Community One Family
One Community One Family is a VSO research project supported by What Works – a UK Aid-funded global initiative to tackle gender-based violence.
Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Resilience
Nepal faces a dizzying array of economic, natural and political hazards, with the Kathmandu Valley frequently classified as one of the world's most vulnerable metro areas. Since the 2015 Ghorka Earthquake, a major aim of VSO's Inclusive Governance programme is to work with civil society, schools, local officials and communities to better understand vulnerability and build long-term resilience.
Today this work includes a two-year project to help communities build back better to the 2017 Terai Flood, a cross-sector urban DRR project in Kathmandu Valley, and school-based resilience and safety work underway in more than 50 schools.
From Response to Recovery in the Terai
In 2017, a devastating flood tore through Nepal, destroying more than 400,000 homes – many of which belonged to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. At the time the floods hit, Nepal was still recovering from a high-magnitude earthquake in 2015.
Disasters – whether natural, political or economic – affect the most marginalised people the most. When a community has fewer assets, defences and insights, it is less resilient to shocks that a better-resourced community may be able to weather. The aim was to strengthen schools and support increased community level resilience.
The two-year project, envisioned as a school-centred “response to recovery” project, reconstructed six schools, installing raised hand pumps and building separate toilets for boys and girls with WASH facilities in each. In terms of long-term development, VSO Nepal also succeeded in providing on-farm and off-farm training for 30 of the area’s most marginalised communities.
We’re involving local people in finding and examining the vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms for their communities during a disaster. This encourages meaningful participation and accountability in the community by helping local people to identify their own problems and prepare for risks. Putting people in the centre of their own risk-reduction not only makes the most of the best local knowledge, but empowers them to and develop a deep understanding of the risks and action plans needed to build long-term resilience in their communities.
This area is prone to flooding – but this time, nature was ruthless.
Aalok Pandey, Community Volunteer, Rautahat
- Reconstructed six schools, installing raised hand pumps and building separate toilets for boys and girls with WASH facilities in each.
- Provided new Early Childhood Development and Learning facilities for 2,000 students in the six schools.
- Provided on farm and off-farm training for 30 of the area’s most marginalised communities.
Youth Empowering Youth
More than one in every five people in Nepal is aged 16-25. VSO Nepal is best known for our International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, and we're engaging young people in much of our other work too.
Our 2,000-strong, and growing, youth network is an active national voice on sustainable development in Nepal and beyond. Our youth programme works to empower young people, supporting them to know their rights, demand inclusivity and hold decision-makers to account.
These are just some of the things we’ve been doing:
- We launched National Youth Engagement Networks (NYEN) in six countries, including Nepal. These youth-led networks provide platforms for ICS alumni and community youth to engage with decision-makers on the social actions most important to them.
- ICS volunteers are working to recruit and train peer educators as part of the Sisters for Sisters’ programme, with topics focusing on girls’ empowerment, career development, and the importance of education.
- ICS volunteers deliver our adolescent sexual health rights programme – enabling young people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
- In the disaster prone areas of Kathmandu valley, ICS has been focussing on Disaster Risk Reduction, working at the grassroots level with community members, schools, and municipality and ward officials in raising awareness on disaster preparedness and response to disasters such as earthquakes.
- Three ICS volunteers were featured on BBC News live from their placement in Nepal on Christmas Day talking about their ICS experience and work in community in education.
ICS gave me a lot of skills and personal development. I want to use my experience as a positive thing to inspire someone else.
Danial, 21, ICS volunteer in Nepal
VSO’s valued funding partners in Nepal include DFID, SAMRC and the EU. We have good relationships with Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD), Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Finance and the National Youth Council (NYC).
PO Box 207
VSO Nepal (map link and directions)
Doka Dol, Sanepa