In most of the earthquake affected districts, people are opting for additional income sources to help them reconstruct their houses.
Milijuli Nepali presenter Subash Karki is on his way up the hill in Banchare village of Lamidanda in Dolakha district, recording interviews for BBC Media Action’s daily radio program. The village is on the way to Singati, one of the worst-hit areas by the earthquake in April 2015.
When he arrives on the top of the hill, Karki meets a group of women who are weaving straw mats. He strikes a conversation with a woman who introduces herself as Dilkumari Shrestha. She explains that it takes two days to weave a mat. Dilkumari is soon joined by Krishna Maya, who sits down to help her with the weaving. The two knit together. They are weaving the gundri, a traditional mat, for use at home.
Dil Kumari says that her family has been trying to make some extra income. “We have goats, chicken. The family plants paddy during summer,” she shares. “If there’s water, there’s plenty to do. We also grow mustard and potatoes in winter.” By the time the conversation is over, a straw mat has already been knitted.
Subash thanks the family for their time and heads to another household in the neighborhood. Subash arrives at another house where he meets the owner basking in the sun in her front yard.
“What is the river that flows down the hillside?” enquires Subash.
“That’s Ghum Khola,” says Radhika Pandey, who is a vegetable seller. She explains how the river is a good source of life for her vegetables.
Radhika currently has seven goats and three cows. She sold three goats for about seven thousand each. She had also taken-up poultry farming for a while. She explains how animal husbandry contributes to her savings to build a new house.
“I grow spinach and potatoes. I am not employed, so this is how I make a living,” she told Subash.
As Subash continues his journey, he meets Purnamaya Ghimire. She was carrying a pile of clothes when they met.
“These are my grandson’s clothes. I’m going to my new house. I’m building a new house,” she says. “I’m also building a semi-detached shelter for my goats.”
Subash climbs up the hill to the location where the house is under construction. The DPC (damp proof course) has been built and wooden planks have been set for the construction of the ground floor. The new house will have three rooms and there’s a shed for goats just adjacent to it. She has used the old frames from her old house, wood and tin to build the shed for the cows and goats.
“I’m a farmer. I became a widow at 25 and farming has been my main source of income,” explains Purnamaya. “I have taken care of all my children myself. If I have money, I can be independent. That’s why it’s important to have something of my own.”
She also produces chilies and sells some in the market and preserves some that lasts the whole year. “It’s possible to make money doing just this, as I also sell spinach. This helps me save some money,” she says.
This constant source of income, Purnamaya hopes, will help build her house. This has also inspired and motivated others in the village to get into income generation activities to save money to build their houses.
Subash continues his walk across the village and arrives at the highway that leads to Dolakha’s Banchare. He meets a woman dressed in red, who’s sitting by the side of the road, guarding a box. She introduces herself as Padam Maya.
“I made holes in the box so that my chicken can breathe,” she explains when Subash asked her what is inside the box. She bought these chicks from Singati and is waiting for a bus back home.
“We can’t buy this breed of chicks in my village,” she told Subash. “I had 12 chicks, and three died. So, I just bought five more. When they become big, I’ll sell some and I eat some.”
Padam Maya explains that she’s also building a house and has decided to opt for chicken farming to earn and save some money.
After a brief walk, Subash reaches Banchare where he enters a grocery store that also has corrugated tin roof and nails on sale.
The shopkeeper, Prem Bahadur Shrestha, told Subash that he is making extra income by selling construction material as many people in the village are building houses.
“Everyone is building houses and people need lots of nails,” he said. “I decided to sell these items as per the people’s demand, besides food items we had been selling.”
“You’re also selling corrugated tin,” quips Subash.
“I know. And people also request for cement and rods. They cannot travel to far off places to buy hardware as it is not easy,” explains Prem Bahadur. “We thought we could help our community in a small way, it’s convenient for people. So all shops are now selling nails and tin sheets.”
Prem Bahadur’s house also collapsed during the earthquake. He is also living in a temporary shelter with his family.
In most of the earthquake affected districts, selling hardware has become an additional income source for local stores to help them reconstruct their houses.
“Selling nails and screws have become mandatory for local shops,” shares Prem Bahadur, who hopes to start building a house himself, when he has enough savings. “If you have such items in your shop, it helps. It also helps the community rebuild.”
(Based on an episode of Milijuli Nepali, a daily radio program produced by BBC Media Action, which focused on livelihood efforts of the earthquake victims to support the rebuilding process.)