MDP students fieldwork in Nepal

MDP students Elmohanad Elsayad, Erin Wiedenman, Christian Golightly and Isaac Giron spent their 2017 summer in Nepal doing work with the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). They evaluated two enterprises (Cattle Farming and Wool Spinning), conducting 71 interviews with households participants on those projects. Their evaluation tackled three aspects of assessment: biodiversity conservation, financial feasibility of the projects and socio-economic impacts.

The following is the abstract of their final project:

Rural Livelihood Diversification in a Resettlement Context: A Case Study of Dairy Farming and Wool Weaving in New Padampur, Nepal.

In 1995, the Nepali government initiated a community-led population resettlement of the peoples located in the heart of Chitwan National Park (Dhaka et al. 2011). The resettlement was motivated by destructive floods, high rates of human wildlife conflict, and the greater need for health, education, and infrastructural services. 10 years following the resettlement policy, the community settled in what is now known as the “New Padampur” located 12 km north of Chitwan National Park just above the east-west highway. Recent studies explored the various perspectives and opinions surrounding the resettlement and the consensus is that people are content knowing they have greater access to resources that support their children’s future, and they no longer live in fear of wildlife and natural calamities.

However, a common difficulty many people face is a significant reduction of available farmland in New Padampur. The land reduction caused many people to transition from on-farm income activities, and to engage in off-farm enterprises. The economy shifted from a mono-cultural agro-based one to a more diversified cash based transactions. To support with this transition, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Community leaders initiated several enterprises to assist the newly resettled community members in achieving alternative livelihood strategies, two of which are the smallholder dairy farming and wool spinning enterprises.

The question remains whether these newly developed enterprises can fully manifest themselves into sustainable livelihood strategies. To help answer this, our research explores both, qualitatively and quantitatively, the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of these enterprises and the extent to which these contribute to sustainable livelihoods. With this information, we provide recommendations to NTNC, Community Forest User Group, and community members in which value can be added to these enterprises, and to identify sustainable pathways within the resettlement context.
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