VSO Nepal celebrates fifty years of improving the lives of thousands of impoverished and marginalised groups across the country, including women and girls and socially marginalised people. The last half a century has seen momentous change in Nepal. In 1964, when VSO opened its doors in Kathmandu, the majority of the country’s population were subsistence farmers with just 1 person in 12 able to read. The country had one of the worst poverty rates in the world. Today, Nepal has more than doubled its rating on the Human Development Index in 30 years – the greatest increase of any country in the world - and primary school net enrolment is over 95%.
Over the course of the past 50 years, more than 800 VSO volunteers from 30 countries have shared their skills and experience to improve the lives of countless individuals across communities in some of the most remote areas of Nepal. Volunteers have acted as catalysts for change by working with the Government of Nepal and in partnership with various organisations in technical areas including agriculture, forestry, business enterprise, education, health and advocacy.
“There is so much we can be proud of when we look back on our achievements in Nepal. These creative approaches to locally-owned solutions that tackle poverty are at the heart of what VSO is all about. VSO’s pioneering model works because it treats people as active partners in development and not passive beneficiaries of aid,” said Marg Mayne, Chief Executive of VSO International, in a video message for VSO Nepal office staff.
In improving education, VSO focused on raising teaching standards and improving classroom practice in primary schools with an emphasis on making education more inclusive for socially marginalised girls, 47% of whom live below the poverty line and had the highest school dropout rates. In Mygadi District, for example, school libraries and child friendly classrooms were created with the help of VSO education volunteers.
In Mugu District, volunteers helped set up an operating theatre especially for caesarean births, while in Dailekh District women were empowered to participate in local politics. In the capital Kathmandu, the Nepali government’s bio-gas programme was supported by a VSO volunteer. Celebrating these achievements, as well as new initiatives such as national volunteering and the International Citizen Service (ICS), VSO Nepal’s Country Director Arlene Mahinay, said, “VSO Nepal's current strategy aims to reduce poverty in 100 villages by addressing the root causes of poverty and marginalisation, particularly in the lives of women, and socially marginalised ethnic and caste groups. That means that we are focusing on programmes in livelihoods, education and health with linking themes of gender, climate change and community cohesion.”
To request further information or to arrange an interview with a VSO spokesperson or volunteer please contact the international Press office on + 44(0)20 87807381/ +44 (0) 7810 658133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
VSO Country Profile - Nepal
50th anniversary Celebrations include:
Annual Volunteer Conference (AVC) - 23rd-24th March 2014
Partners consultation-workshop on women’s economic empowerment - 24th-25th March
Celebration Day, Formal Dinner and book launch - 28th March
Bagmati River clean up - 29th March (sponsored by Nepal government with VSO staff and volunteers)
VSO, the world’s leading development NGO that fights poverty through volunteers, marks 50 years of working in Nepal and transforming the lives of thousands of marginalised people. Staff and partners in VSO Nepal’s office are celebrating throughout the week and launching a new commemorative book charting the role VSO has played in Nepal’s development.