Women Awareness Center Nepal

Earthquake Relief Update

On April 25, 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The earthquake had a devastating impact. On may 12th, 2015 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck again while the country was still dealing with the tremors from the initial earthquake adding to the fatalities and casualties.

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WACN believes in local ownership of all projects. WACN strong, decentralized network of cooperatives provides the basis for further development at the local level. Local motivators encourage their fellow women to initiate income generating schemes and community based development activities in their respective districts. In the beginning, the motivators are paid by WACN, but after a few years the savings and credit co-operatives are able to provide the salaries on their own. Many of the savings and credit co-operatives now function as autonomous institutions with little input from WACN. The self-sustainability of WACN’s programs can be attributed to the inherent design of its programs, the support of grassroots workers and volunteers, and the funds raised and saved by co-operative members.

Over the years, we have developed the following need-based methodology:

1.Site selection
We select sites in areas where women are requesting our services or in areas adjoining our current operations. We give preference to villages that have initiated their own development activity because it shows that they are ready for greater development.

2. Rapport building with the community


3. Group formation

At this point we must usually seek permission from the village leaders to ensure that they will let their female family members participate in our programs. Once the leaders have agreed, the majority of other villagers will follow suit. We explain the mission and working methodology of WACN. Then we establish small savings and credit groups. 

4.Village-need identification workshop
We analyze the development efforts of the village from a gender perspective. In collaboration with local women and men, both informal and formal leaders, we collect the necessary data to determine the needs of the community. 

5.Village-level planning workshop 
Together with the community members, we plan activities to meet the villagers’ needs. We give priority to smaller projects that address gender issues and that can be locally managed

6. Coordination with other agencies
 At this stage we establish a working partnership with other organizations. We decide the exact provision and allocation of resources-who will provide what. 

Before the women can run the co-operative, they must undergo a variety of trainings. Accounting training is the most critical because unless the women shareholders understand the financial dynamics of their respective cooperatives they will not be able to mange them effectively. The training equips women with the tools to maintain transparent and accurate accounting systems for their cooperatives. 

8.Exposure visits 
We take participants to other field sites to give them a better understanding of cooperative activity. 

9. Cooperative Registration
At this stage we register the cooperative under the the Cooperative Act of 1992. WACN Cooperatives are legal entities independently run by the village women. The village women become empowered as they start to take responsibility for managing all aspects of their newly founded institution. 

Registering informal savings and credit groups as cooperatives is just the first step in institutionalizing them . After the legalization process, the cooperatives must focus on strengthening their organization as a whole to remain viable. Follow up trainings are essential.
10. Handling over to the community
At this stage, we distance ourselves from the everyday operations of the cooperative, remaining available as need to counsel on difficult issues.  Since the women are overworked, the first stages of development are slow. We have to convince the women to take responsibility for development activities. As their confidence grows and they undergo more training, the women become less timid and start to utilize the credit line available to them to carry out development work.  WACN provides seed money to the women’s groups for immediate lending to speed the process of establishing a savings and credit history. This act builds the women's skill set and confidence as they learn to perform financial transactions on their own. 

Throughout our work, we view the knowledge of the community and co-operative members as a valuable resource.  We believe that if we use and respect their knowledge, then our work will not only be sustained, but that it will continue to grow.