HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The Japan Social Development Fund has agreed to provide a grant of $2.6 million to Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) to enhance the opportunities and share of poor rural artisans in the crafts and cultural market.
“The innovative project aims at addressing a root cause of unrest and distress by enabling the beneficiaries to access sustainable livelihoods by strengthening their traditional skills and making inroads into mainstream markets,” vice chairman of Poverty Alleviation Fund Janak Raj Joshi said at a project launching ceremony here today.
The project will be initiating a chain reaction for the development of ancillary micro industries — natural dyeing units, metal workers and minor forest produce and generate employment to complement and support the establishment of artisan clusters.
“The pilot project will test a new model for improving the livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities in politically sensitive and lagging regions that depend on the craft sector for their livelihoods,” he added.
The pilot project will be implemented in nine districts — Myagdi, Gorkha, Tehrathum, Rupandehi, Dhanusha, Lalitpur, Bajura, Dailekh and Kapilvastu — and seeks to improve the livelihood of the internally displaced, landless and vulnerable communities, poor women and differently-abled, whose lives depend in the cultural industry.
The World Bank is the administrator of the grant fund while the fund is the implementing agency of the project. Japan Social Development Fund is an official development assistance programme administered by the World Bank on behalf of the government of Japan.
The four-year-long scheme, ‘Making Markets Work for Conflict Affected in Nepal’, intends to bring opportunities for 8,000
beneficiaries, who are, despite being highly skilled, forced to migrate to urban centres as labourers and unskilled workers.
The project has four components — Cluster Development and Capacity Building, Community Cluster Fund, Marketing and Promotion and Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Knowledge Management.
“Through this initiative, we are pleased to work in promoting and supporting the empowerment and participation of women, vulnerable groups and young people in the economic and social life of their communities and in providing employment opportunities at the local level,” said Japanese ambassador to Nepal Kunio Takahashi addressing the launching programme.
Senior economist at the World Bank and task team leader of PAF project Dr Gayatri Acharya said that the grant will focus on the most disadvantaged and conflict affected districts where there is high youth unemployment but traditional skills that can be supported. “The model, if successful, will have a ‘demonstration effect’ and can be scaled up,” she added.