Indigenous Peoples

Improving the livelihoods of Tharu communities in Nepal

The majority of inhabitants in Rupaliya -4,Bandevi village of Nawalparasi district are landless belonging to the indigenous Tharu community. Babiyo, a grass used for thatching, making ropes, brooms, swing-ropes etc, is abundantly available in the Bandevi Community Forest located near the village. Despite that the Government’s Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) supported 17 machines to make babiyo rope, the machines remained unattended due to the lack of technical knowledge. In such circumstances, FAO through the Forest and Farm Facility Programme provided various trainings and technical support to village women, as well as created linkages with market networks and district government line agencies, which contributed in revitalizing the enterprise and transforming the livelihoods of vulnerable groups. 

Improved producer organizations for business, livelihoods and policy engagement

In Nepal, community based forest and farm enterprises can play a crucial role in generating local employment opportunities as well as reducing poverty. As such, since 2014 the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) is implementing a series of trainings that have enabled indigenous and ethnic communities to diversify and increase the sustainability of their businesses.

The majority of indigenous and ethnic communities living around the forest area in Nepal are primary users of forest products. Among these communities are thirty-five women members of the Srijana Babiyo Rope Micro Entrepreneurs’ Group, who used to collect the babiyo grass from the Community Forest located near the village. The trainings and technical support provided by the FFF trained the women on how to make babiyo rope and improve marketing their products. Now, they are selling the rope in nearby markets and in India, which has increased their financial status. As a result, they have regular income to support their household expenses, being able also to save some of their earnings. 

In words of Amiraka Kumari Tharuni, Chair of Srijana Babiyo Rope Micro Entrepreneurs’ Group: “Babiyo rope enterprise has brought about significant changes in the life of our Tharu community. We had a lot of financial problems in the past, but after the trainings we can produce good quality Babiyo rope. Now we are able to earn and all problems have been solved. We did not have even simple slippers, but now we have good shoes and clothes. We all have access to quality food and our children have again begun going to school.”

Indeed, this initiative has been successful in making a change on the livelihoods of groups in situation of vulnerability. In addition, the trainings and exposure experienced throughout the participation of the programme have empowered the women, increasing their capacity to become advocators and to bring their issues to the local and district government offices as well as other stakeholders. 

“Previously, the women of our Tharu community were shy and could not even talk to other people outside the community. Now, we can articulate everything, having also made a good rapport to district government officials. With the exposure of learning exchange visit inside the country and also in Vietnam, we are now able to raise our voice in front of different stakeholders,” added Amiraka Kumari. 

Indigenous peoples in Nepal

  • According to the 2011 census, the indigenous nationalities of Nepal comprise 36% of the total population of 26,5 million, with 125 caste and ethnic groups and 123 languages.
  • Indigenous peoples are recognized in the constitution, being officially called “Adivasi Janajati.” The National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities Act, formulated by the government in 2002, is the law that deals with indigenous peoples in the country. 
  • The Government of Nepal voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ratified ILO Convention 169 on the 14th of September 2007.