Back to news
8 Mar 2017 | Blog

Kalchebesi’s Real Entrepreneurs: Women Spearheading Adaptation to Climate Change

Sunita Ranabhat & Roshan Subedi

4 mins Read

70% Complete
In the absence of men in the village, women are engaged to take up farming in Kalchebesi. Photo Credit: Jitendra Bajracharya/ ICIMOD

Many experts and researches have claimed that women suffer the impacts of climate change more than men do. This is said to be true especially of women in developing countries. Disparities related to roles and responsibilities, decision making powers, access to resources, as well as cultural norms make women more vulnerable to climate change. However, if provided opportunities, women can also be effective agents of adaptation to climate change. Shramjivi Women’s Farmer Group (SWFG) is testimony to this assertion.

SWFG operates in Kalchebesi, a small village of about 25 households situated in Patlekhet, a village development committee in Kavre District. The village is located 46 kilometres east of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Most of the people here are small-scale farmers, and they are mostly women. Most of the men here leave to find work in the city, or migrate to other countries for employment.

Droughts are a major problem for farmers. Rising temperatures, drying water resources, and the increasing prevalence of agricultural pests present agricultural challenges. There was limited capacity to deal with these problems at the local level in the past. This severely affected the livelihoods of the women farmers of Patlekhet.

Bimala Bajagain, chairperson of SWFG says, “Three years ago, a long, dry spell adversely affected the livelihoods of local farmers. We could hardly think of growing vegetables in late winter. We used chemical pesticides and fertilizers to get better yield from crops.” Kamala Timalsina, secretary of SWFG adds, “We had limited knowledge, tools and resources for combating climate change when our men were out of the village.”

Bimala Bajagai spraying jholmol on her cabbage field. Photo Credit: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

Things have changed now. The Resilient Village Mountain (RMV) concept, initially referred to as the climate smart village concept, was piloted by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) with its partner organization, the Center for Environment and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED) in May 2014 in Kalchebesi. The SWFG includes 22 members which joined ICIMOD and CEAPRED in the pilot study, training farmers to use simple, affordable and replicable climate smart practices that feature climate, socio-economic and future resilience.  This pilot works with 40 farmers’ groups, which include representatives of 1,089 households across eight villages in Kavre district, under the Himalayan Climate change Adaptation Programme (HICAP). Over 80% of the household representatives are women, and many among them are from marginalized communities.

Climate smart practices such as bio-pesticides and a bio-fertilizer called jholmol, waste water conservation and mulching, resolved problems of water scarcity, helped maintain soil fertility, and brought changes in the farming system. The SWFG not only practiced these climate smart practices themselves but also disseminated them within their village. Sarita Regmi, a member of SWFG, said that the use of jholmol has helped reduce farm expenditure by around 50%, and added significantly to her income.

Field facilitator giving training on jholmol preparation to members of Shramjivi Women’s Farmer Group.
Photo Credit: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

Sharing her experience of gaining extra income from bitter gourd plantation, Kamala Timalsina, another member, confided, “By using straw mulch, and watering only twice every week, I am able to earn NPR 70,000 from bitter gourd, even in the dry, late winter season. I am able to use this income to support my children’s education.” Increase in crop yield, increase in income, reduction in cost of production, and reduction in workload has encouraged many women to get further involved in agriculture. Besides, the production of chemical-free vegetables gives them self-satisfaction as they are able to contribute to the good health of family members, and consumers.

Kalchebesi has become an exemplary village. It has successfully demonstrated that the participatory model which is central to the RMV concept can and does work.  Farmers who were once shy about even identifying themselves in public have now started interacting with visitors from inside the country and outside. Many national and international delegates have appreciated the organized efforts of the women’s group in transforming their village into a climate resilient one.

Members of Shramjivi Women’s Farmer Group. Photo Credit: Madhusudhan Guragai

This women’s group has also been successful in attracting resources from district line agencies such as the District Agriculture Development Office, and the District Livestock Service Office. The confidence and knowledge displayed by these women while implementing climate smart practices successfully has been acknowledged by Yuvraj Khatiwada, vice chairperson of the National Planning Commission. He praised the women’s group’s accomplishments as a valuable lesson for farmers living across the mid-hills of Nepal.

SWFG is in the process of developing Kalchebesi as a model village for climate resilience. This women’s group has been particularly successful in organizing its members to implement climate smart practices, to improve livelihoods, and to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change. This group has proven that women are not only agents of change but also strong drivers for adaptation. As said by Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), in 2014, these women from Kalchebesi are real entrepreneurs, and thus an inspiration to other communities to use modular and affordable technologies in the combat against climate change impacts.

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Sign Up

Related Content

Continue exploring this topic

26 Dec 2016 News
Poster Presentation at the AGU

[caption id="attachment_7734" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Gunjan Silwal all set for her poster presentation.[/caption] Gunjan Silwal, ...

Leveraging Collaboration for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Koshi Basin

Scientists, practitioners, and decision makers working in the Koshi Basin reached consensus on the need to further strengthen regional collaboration ...

29 Mar 2019 Blog
A bumpy ride to Paro

It is not often that one sees a series of lightning bolts across the runway followed by bone-chilling thunder while ...

23 Sep 2015 News
ICIMOD joins Scientific and Technical Advisory Group of India’s National Mission on Himalayan Studies

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India recently launched the National Mission on Himalayan Studies to ...

5 Aug 2016 News
SERVIR Workshop Helps Finalise M&E Framework

  A regional workshop on ‘SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) impact pathway, partnership and communication strategy’ was held 11-15 July 2016 ...

10 Jun 2017 Blog
Giving dugwells a new lease of life with solar powered pumps in the Soan Basin, Pakistan

Novel interventions for climate change adaptation are a step forward in meeting grass-root needs. Such has been the case with ...

2 Feb 2017 Himalica
Himalica Pilot Partners Meet to Review 2016 Progress and Plan for 2017

  At the regional review and planning workshop held in Kathmandu, Nepal, this January, Himalica pilot implementing partners from Bangladesh, Bhutan, ...

27 Oct 2016 News
Joint Field Expedition to Thana Glacier in Bhutan

Experts from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) Cryosphere Initiative and Department of Hydro Met Services (DHMS) in ...