Building Sustainable Futures: Bioengineering and Enterprise Development Trainings in Tatopani

by: Sadip Raj Pandey (RECOFTC Nepal)

From April 23-26, 2024, the village of Tatopani-3 in Jumla became a hub of learning on sustainability practices for mountain livelihoods, as a diverse group of community members gathered for a training session aimed at enhancing local capacities in cost-effective bioengineering and enterprise development. This initiative, hosted by Winrock international, RECOFTC Nepal and PEEDA through the WISIONS Innovation Lab project, sought to empower local stakeholders, promote sustainable livelihoods, and foster resilience against environmental challenges.

The training session saw participation from various sectors, including members of Girikhola MHP, Siddhibinayak and Thalachaur community forest user groups (CFUGs), Dhauligad agriculture groups, and officials from Tatopani Municipality. A total of 28 people, 12 of them women, were part of these training sessions.

The primary aim of this training was to develop a knowledgeable and skilled group of individuals who recognize the role that local entrepreneurship and bioengineering techniques can play in enhancing the resilience of their micro-hydro projects (MHPs) and supporting local livelihoods. The specific objectives were to introduce relevant stakeholders in the planning of measures to reduce the impact of floods and landslides, and to foster coordination between community members and local government for promoting local enterprise development and the application of bioengineering techniques.

Enterprise Development: Laying the Foundations

During the enterprise development training held on April 23-24, the focus was on equipping participants with essential knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship. The sessions delved into various aspects crucial for successful enterprise establishment and growth in Nepal. A significant portion of the training was dedicated to understanding the legal procedures for enterprise registration, essential for navigating regulatory governance effectively. Addressing gender-specific challenges, particularly those encountered by women entrepreneurs, was another vital aspect covered during the sessions. This was supplemented by inspiring case studies highlighting successful women-led ventures in Nepal. Additionally, participants engaged in group exercises focusing on sub-sector analysis, enabling them to identify local products with high potential for business ventures.

Participants worked in groups to develop business plans for products with commercialization potential. One of the groups presenting their business plan for honey.

The trainees identified five promising sub-sectors for local enterprise development: Radipakhi (local wool products), apple processing, beekeeping, Dhatelo oil processing, and Dalechuk processing. Participants created basic business plans for these sub-sectors, laying a first foundation for future enterprise development.

Prinsepia utilis seeds (Dhatelo).

Bioengineering: Theory and Practice

During April 25-26, the training transitioned its focus towards bioengineering. These sessions covered key concepts surrounding the scope and functionalities of bioengineering. Participants were introduced to small-scale civil engineering structures, vegetative engineering methods, and the critical process of selecting suitable plant species for bioengineering projects.

The theoretical groundwork laid the foundation for the practical sessions that followed, where participants had the opportunity to witness bioengineering techniques firsthand. A visit to Raralihi was part of this practical session. The visit allowed the participants to observe the implementation of wooden crib walls, wattling, brush layering, and check dams in a real-world setting. These techniques are being used to stabilize slopes on local farmland. A gully has developed into a seasonal river that flows from top to bottom during the rainy season, affecting the agricultural lands of the local communities. Hence, the Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) initiative supported the community of Raralihi in implementing these bioengineering techniques and hence, to prevent the land from eroding.

Wooden crib wall and check dam constructed by LI-BIRD with support from the community of Raralihi to prevent erosion of agricultural lands.

Additionally a hands-on practice session was held in Triveni, in which the participants actively engaged in the construction of bioengineering structures under expert guidance. They practiced dry-stone walling, building palisades and crib walls, and wattling. These are some of the practices that can be implemented with local resources available in the area.

Participants practicing the bioengineering techniques in the field.

Collaborative Efforts and Future Initiatives

The co-creation workshop held on April 26 in Tatopani, Jumla, marked the culmination of the training program, drawing together a diverse array of stakeholders including local government officials, MHP representatives, CFUG members, and community members. The discussions led to identifying key areas for future collaboration which will be enhancing marketing strategies and market linkages for Dhatelo products. Additionally, there was a strong commitment towards implementing bioengineering techniques, particularly at the Girikhola MHP, with the municipality expressing its support through match funding arrangements. The most suitable technique to reduce the impact of flooding in and around the MHP areas is “multilayered bioengineering”, where gabions, Salix Tetrasperma and Prinsepia utilis are planted in different layers. These initiatives reflect a shared vision for harnessing collective expertise and resources towards fostering resilient and inclusive growth within the MHP community.

Vice Chairperson of Girikhola MHP, Mrs. Gangadevi presenting her voice regarding the problems faced in running the MHP.

With continued support and collaboration, the seeds planted during these four days of training are set to grow into robust enterprises and sustainable bioengineering practices, ensuring a brighter and more resilient future for the people of Jumla. As Jaykali Sharki, a participant, remarked, “This training provided me with valuable insights on enterprise governance, and I will strive to create a business plan for Dhatelo in the days to come.” As we approach the next phase of the program, the focus remains on advancing bioengineering practices at the MHP and facilitating market linkages.

Here you can find more about the Innovation Lab Nepal project!

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