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.
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.