DWO’s Intervention Area/Program
Since 1994, the Dalit Welfare Organization has been delivering social, cultural, educational, economical and political empowerment as well as rights awareness projects in all corners of Nepal. DWO has offices (chapters) in 53 districts of Nepal's 75 administrative districts. Currently, DWO is implementing over 20 long term project in Nepal. It has head office in Kathmand and works through the district chapters in Nepal.
Advocacy is a crucial part of the work carried out and conducted by DWO. The organization’s approach towards eliminating caste based discrimination thrusts advocacy to the center stage of the operation. Different approaches for advocacy have been carried out by DWO. Some of these approaches include lobbying campaigns to influence policy making decisions across the country. Organization has lobbied the Constituent Assembly members, Parliament members, policy makers, social leaders, Ministry of Education, Higher Secondary Education Board, the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training and various ministries. They have also lobbied various education institutes for an increase in scholarships and education support for Dalit children and youth. It has been constantly carrying out advocacy activities to implement land reform policy, improve land governance for landless Dalit and also lobbying with international financial institute, central and local government to initiate land and agricultural reform program.
Media has also been a crucial part of the advocacy based approach that DWO has followed. The organization publishes a quarterly magazine, Samabesi NayaSamrachana, nationwide that covers Dalit news, articles, success Stories, best practices and challenges. The Dalit Radio programs have also been organized to raise awareness regarding caste based discrimination, untouchability, human rights violations, discrimination against women and child labour across the nation. DWO has its own PRATIBODH community FM 102.4 in Kohalpur, Banke. It has been broadcasting Radio program from Sunsari, Sindhuli, Dang, Banke, Surkhet, Jumla, Achham, Kailali and other districts as well. DWO is the first organization who broadcasted Dalit radio program which is popularly known as Jana Jagaran Radio Program via Radio Nepal. In addition, DWO also telecasted Television program SAHAYATRA and KANCHULI via popular Television station Kantipur TV.
Policy advocacy has also been a focus of the advocacy campaign by DWO. Workshops, consultations, conferences and meetings have been carried out in different parts of the country to advocate for better policies. The lobbying has taken place on both a national and international level to push for effective implementation of the Caste based Discrimination and Untouchability Act 2011. The organization has also played a major role in advocating for the Untouchability Act regulations to be immediately released.
Local advocacy efforts have allowed DWO to sensitize political leaders and public authorities about the urgency of following and implementing proper regulations. Through the organization’s regional offices and district branch offices, DWO has been able to advocate and raise awareness for the Dalit plight and Caste Based discrimination issues on a local level, ensuring that members in the Nepali community are being reached.
Dalit are the most poorest and economically disadvantaged group in South Asia and Nepal. They are trapped into the vicious circle of poverty due to systematic exclusion and discrimination. Dalit lack access to productive resources such as land, capital, skills, trainings and other natural resource. These productive resource are unequally distributed in Nepal. Notably, 90% of the Dalit are landless. Majority of Dalit community lives in the remote and rural areas and are highly dependent in the land, agriculture and informal sector for livelihood and survival. Dalit are economically exploited due to the untouchability and discrimination.
DWO has designed economic empowerment program to address the root cause of landlessness, poverty, deprivation, economic backwardness and social injustice. DWO has been implementing program which aims to enhance economic conditions of Dalit community in Nepal. The organization combats caste based discrimination through the conduction of programs that better the economic conditions of the so called lowest castes.
In addition, DWO has been implementing agriculture and land related economic empowerment program in various districts of far west and mid western region of Nepal. It has been working for the upliftment of Haliya(Bonded labor), Haruwa, Charuwa and landless Dalit through economic empowerment program. Currently, It has been working with Lutheran World Federation, Practical Action, Action Aid, USC Canada, Dan Church Aid, United Mission to Nepal and Government Program such as LGCDP, Poverty Alleviation fund and LGAF to enhance economic condition of Dalit community.
Economic empowerment program includes, income generating program, vocational training, agricultural development, land to tiller program, land lease holding for Dalit, etc.
It looks towards building up capacity to form community organizations in order to strengthen and mobilize the community. The programs and work done by the DWO has aimed at eliminating hunger and famine among the beneficiaries.
The organization has also spear headed efforts to raise knowledge about improved and new technologies that can be benefited from by the Dalit community. Training programs and workshops have aimed at increasing and sharing the knowledge and skills of the community and staff.
Initiatives organized by DWO have also aimed at strengthening the farming sector and supporting various beneficiaries in the Dalit community and other vulnerable groups in making a living through farming businesses. The approaches have also encouraged the targeted areas and groups to increase their knowledge of products and technologies that can be helpful in such an approach. The organization recognizes the importance of establishing self reliance in the process of economic empowerment, thus, encouraging and providing support for the establishment of an official sales market for agricultural products and creation of connections with official institutions.
Education is the most powerful weapon to fight against poverty, discrimination and injustice in the society. However, historically, Dalit community was excluded from getting education. Dalit community still faces barrier to education. Still big portion of the Dalit population are illiterate, uneducated and have less access to education. There is no sufficient education program and policies which will improve the education status of Dalit community. In addition, Dalit children still faces caste based discrimination and untouchability in the school. Children have been severely beaten for touching water tape in the school, they usually get harsh punishment than other children in the school. Dalit teacher does not get enough attention by the teachers and management. Dalit Teachers and Head teacher does not receive due respect as other teacher due to their Dalit identity. It has been reported in the media that Dalit head teacher was removed from the school because higher caste parents didn’t send their children to the school because of the caste he belonged.
The DWO has made education its priority when addressing caste based discrimination across Nepal. The organization has carried out various efforts to ensure that the most marginalized and disadvantaged members of communities that DWO operates in area receiving proper education. DWO has projects targeting the improvement of quality education for out of school children, poor children, girls, and children with disabilities. They also work hard towards establishing a safe learning environment for children.
The DWO runs various campaigns to raise awareness regarding the importance and need for child education. Door to Door campaigns have also been carried out by the organization to ensure that all members of the society are being reached through their efforts to increase awareness and enrollment of children in targeted communities. Their campaigns have also aimed at promoting child’s right to education. Trainings and workshops have been offered to teachers and facilitators to improve their approaches towards education and further encourage the enrollment of children in schools.
The organization has also attempted to focus on the improvement of inclusive education for out of reach children. DWO has constantly implemented programs that have aimed at increasing the attendance and the enrolment of out of reach children in schools. Their efforts have aimed at sensitizing schools and local governmental bodies towards the existing barriers to enrolment, attendance and enrollment retention.
DWO has provided informal classes to out of school children to accelerate their learning process and integrate them into the formal school system in the right grade according to their age category. The organization has also constantly implemented evaluation and monitoring programs to ensure the proper conduct and enrollment of their beneficiaries. The organization seeks to strengthen the capacity and increase the accountability of educational institutions in their areas of operation. It has been working with likeminded organization both at national and local level to influence the education policy. DWO has been working with Ministry of Education and Policy maker to ensure that the education is accessible for all the Dalit and marginalized community in Nepal.
DWO's past experiences in Education:
DWO implemented various programs on education sector to improve the educational status of socially discriminated Dalit and other Marginalized groups like girl children, poor, PLHIV, PWD's. It has 26 years of working experiences on ECD, formal, informal, technical education and Scholarship programs. Access to ECD to University level education for Dalit" is the slogan of DWO. Through its programs intervention it has contributed on quality education, education for all and equitable and inclusive education for Dalit and marginalized children. DWO promoted the Early Childhood Development Centers in 8 districts of Nepal. It was constructed building of ECD centers and after the project they were handed over to local Government and Local Community for its sustainability. Because of early childhood intervention, a total of 3000 children benefited from the ECD programme in Dang, Bardiya, Surkhet, Dailekh, Dhading and Jumla districts. Out of the 3000, approx. 75% were from most marginalised groups, e.g. Dalit (so called ‘untouchables’) and ethnic communities. 48% boys and 52% girl children were participated in ECD centres. DWO also provided trainings to the facilitators which contributed to capacitated manpower for the ECDs. Some of the ECD centers were registered in district education office. Through ECD centers approx. 97% children were enrolled in school education. DWO provided all required equipment, materials, staffs, snacks and transportation to run the ECD.
DWO has long experience on Non-Formal Education. Children aged 6-12 were provided with nine month NFE programme in Dang, Bardiya, Surkhet, Dailekh, Jumla, Rupandehi and Dhading districts of Nepal. Approx. 2500 out of reach school children had benefitted from the NFE. Out of all total children of NFE, 95% were successfully integrated in the public education system. DWO has done advocacy campaign for enrollment of them in public school. Parents were provided counselling and livelihood support, mainly mothers. DWO also has experience on literacy and REFLECT classes run for the iliterate adults DWO conducted such class in 15 districts of Nepal in previous years.
DWO provided scholarship (provided all cost of the student) for the Technical Education to 20 Dalit youth for the study of CMA, Junior Technical Assistant, Veterinary JTA, Sub- Engineer, Amin and so on. All of them have completed the course. 75% of them got government Job. Some of them are engaged in jobs in non-government sector and some of them are self-employed. It has contributed to increase the Dalit inclusion in Government job. DWO also provided the Vocational Training to the unemployed youths mainly from Dalit and ethnic groups. In the vocational training, DWO conducted practical class, theoretical class and sports and play methodologies so that the youth who were highly interested to participate in the VT. Not only VT, it was also applied in ECD and NFE. Approx. 9000 people from Dalit and marginalized groups directly benefitted from VT.
To increase access of Dalit in Education, DWO has provided the scholarship to Dalit students for Primary to Higher level education. Scholarship program encouraged Dalit and marginalized children to continue their education. Some students who got scholarship are now Medical doctor, Engineer and Government officer. Gandharva and Badi community's children have started going school because of scholarship program. Before the scholarship, they didn’t use to go to school due to lack of awareness, discrimination and high poverty.
To increase access to quality education and education for all, DWO supported for construction of school buildings, toilets and water taps etc. mainly in flood and earthquake disaster affected areas. It also provided educational materials i.e. Bag, books, stationery, school dress, sanitary materials, school fee, snacks to the Dalit and other most marginalized students. It contributed to establish libraries including e-library in some of the schools of Bardiya, Dang and Dhading districts. DWO also provided livelihood support to the parents who cannot afford for education for children, After the support, the parents were able to earn money and initiated to invest in the education for their children. Formation and mobilization of child and youth clubs were put into practice. In Dang district, DWO has established youth investment fund as well for the VT. DWO is working to improve the capacity of the education system at all levels. UNICEF awarded SAD and DWO for new idea of Sport and visioning class in Move 4 New Horizon project. Local Government of Bardiya, Dang and Surkhet district appreciated DWO by providing certificate in the public ceremony due to the good initiation in education.
Few years ago, DWO developed and submitted Alternative education bill to the Nepal government to ensure the education rights of marginalized community. As a result of DWO’s regular and systematic lobby and coordination, the government of Nepal started Dalit scholarship program for Dalit and other marginalized groups. Now it is ongoing at primary level by government. For +2, government has implemented the Student Bank program (a kind of scholarship) for marginalized communities. It is also acknowledged by the government and DWO was invited in the Govt. scholarship program committee. Due to regular advocacy on education by DWO and Dalit Civil society organizations, constitution of Nepal ensured free education with scholarship for Dalit and most marginalized community. DWO’s Founder Member Mr. Chakraman BK was nominated as member of Higher Level National Education Commission by the government in 2019. DWO also integrated some health and sanitation and DRR related projects in the education.
Some of the international donors and INGOs i.e. Action Aid International, Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) Canada, Dan Church Aid (DCA), Danida/ HUGOU, DFID and UK aid, European Union, The Development Fund Norway/ Norad, International Relief and Development, Luthrawan World Federation Marryknoll fathers and brothers US, Practical Action Nepal, Save the Children US and Norway, Swiss Academy for Development (SAD)/ROTA, Shaping Young Minds Foundation-(SYMF) US, USC Asia Canada, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), Volunteer Services Oversees (VSO) Nepal, World Vision Nepal/ USAID, UNCHR/DNF, SDC, Care Nepal, Helvetas Nepal, ILO, UNDP Nepal, IDE Nepal, NDI Nepal and Some Embassy were provided fund to DWO directly and through the partners to implement and take positive change in the Dalit and marginalized community.
Contribution of DWO in Education
Another way to combat caste based discrimination is through organizational development. DWO recognizes the importance of this approach and works hard towards achieving it. Efforts by the organization have targeted an increase of knowledge and access to information about the reality and issues of the Dalit community and other communities. The increase of dialogue and awareness between the Dalit and non Dalits and the local government has been a priority of the organization. Campaigns carried out across districts and the nation have aimed at increasing the knowledge of Dalits of their rights and increasing the awareness of the general population of Dalit issues and struggles. Workshops and training session have been used to facilitated the pre mentioned dialogue between Dalits, non dalits and the local government. The organization realizes the importance of engagement of all parties in the dialogue and awareness campaign in order to achieve better results.
DWO has utilized media outlets in order to implement their activities for programs revolving around organizational development. The ward citizen forum and the citizen awareness center have been used for such a task. The ward citizen forum has been working at raising issues of the Dalit and non Dalit community at the government level. The citizen awareness center has held awareness programs about birth, death, migration, marriage and divorce registrations, women violence and vaccinations. Overall, the work conducted by DWO in the targeted districts has led to better community development and management not only for the Dalit community, but also for the non Dalits communities as well.
Health and Sanitation
In order to succeed at the task of eradication of poverty and caste based discrimination, DWO recognizes the importance of addressing health and sanitation issues in the communities in which it operates. The organization aims to conduct projects and implement programs that provide quality nutrition education to Dalits, and the general population especially pregnant, lactating mothers and their children in rural and less developed areas of districts. The projects are run with the objective of eradicating malnutrition, increasing the life standard of mothers and their children, and strengthening the Growth Monitoring Unit.
The organization attempts to improve the nutritional knowledge of the targeted beneficiaries by providing then with easy to access information about breast feeding, child feeding behaviour, nutrition content of different food items, the nutritious combination of them etc. DWO’s projects consists of , but are not limited to, workshops, special trainings to mother members into nutrition trainers, providing nutrition orientation training to pregnant women, supporting mothers and children in the community with special food items and hygienic items.
Climate Change and Disaster Response
With recent years, Nepal has seen and undergone some of the side affects brought on by global warming. Thus, DWO has adapted climate change and disaster response as a theme to run projects to tackle these issues. Various weather dependant events, such as floods, have caused Nepalis in rural communities to loose their shelter, land, crops, food sources and place of work. The DWO focuses their work in districts that are most prone to floods, fire, epidemic disease and animal encroachment. Recognizing the importance of addressing such risks, DWO has created programs aiming at enhancing the disaster preparedness and response capacities of vulnerable communities in disaster prone areas. Activities included the formation of a community disaster management committee, monthly meets, training etc. Activities have been planned and carried out at schools in order to train both teachers and students about disaster response and management.
DWO has established climate change library in Banke district to increase understanding about climate change among Dalit and vulnerable groups. DWO is also leading regional level climate change network in Banke. DWO act as secretary for the climate change network in Banke district.
Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
As an organization that battles Caste based discrimination, it is necessary for DWO to adapt Gender equality and Social Inclusion in their activities, projects, and operations. Fulfilling children’s right to protection from abuse, exploitation, violence, neglect and human trafficking has been one of the mail goals of the organization. Programs and projects have been implemented to ensure the protection of children from sexual abuse, violence, exploitation, and trafficking. The organization realizes the importance of collaborating with the government of Nepal to ensure better results and commitment. Through their work, DWO has attempted to strengthen governmental bodies and the child protection system at a national and community level. Empowering children is also viewed as a way to promote GESI as children will be able to protect themselves against violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination etc in accessing services for reintegration. Addressing gender issues and discrimination has also been a task undertaken by the DWO, projects involving the assistance of vulnerable women such as sexually abused women have facilitated this process and eased it for women in Nepal.