A quarter of all Nepalese live below the poverty line (UN Human Development Index). Years of political instability had already restricted Nepal’s economic growth but the 2015 earthquake left millions without homes, livelihoods or schools and threw them into extreme poverty. UNICEF estimated 24,000 classrooms across Nepal were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving close to a million children out of education and vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. Support for reconstruction has been limited and many people have been forced into debt to rebuild their houses and livelihoods. Some parents have even resorted to selling their children and many women have also been tempted overseas by the promise of lucrative salaries. The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (Trafficking in Person Report 2013-15) reported a 15% increase in human trafficking after the earthquake. NGOs estimate that 10,000 to 15,000 Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India annually, while 7,500 children are trafficked domestically for commercial sexual exploitation.
The country is ranked 13th on the Global Slavery Index. In Sindhupalchowk district, 90% of houses and 557 government schools were destroyed. There was similar devastation in Nuwakot district. These districts were already prone to modern day slavery but the problem is escalating. The Office of the District Coordination Committee requested that our partner Shakti Samuha lead a programme of work in the affected areas and we are delivering this work alongside Voice of Children. We are the only NGOs working on this issue in these districts of Nepal.
Community Led Action against Modern-slavery and Poverty (CLAMP) is focused on ending forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking and supporting those who have been victims. This is a new project but over the next three years we will be:
Our local partners Shakti Samuha is the world’s first organisation to be set up and run by survivors of trafficking and slavery. It now has more than twenty years’ experience and its co-founder was recently recognised by the US Government for her work in preventing trafficking and supporting survivors. Shakti Samuha have been working in Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot since 2006 and have an in-depth understanding of the situation in both districts. They are leading the community based part of this project. Voice of Children works with children living and working on the street and families living in urban slums. They raise awareness of child abuse and provide legal, social and psychological support to children and their families. They have been a ChildHope partner since 2018 and for this project will be leading on the child protection and safeguarding activities.
We will raise awareness of modern day slavery in schools and train teachers and school management committees on how to identify and support children at risk of dropping out and becoming vulnerable to trafficking. We will raise community awareness on the importance of keeping children in school and work with education department officials and community organisations to monitor attendance and improve retention. All of these advocacy activities will be led by a team of Youth Change Agents who we will be training to work within their own communities. We know the biggest driver of trafficking is extreme poverty so we will work with the most vulnerable young people and their families on finding ways to earn a living. They will be provided with skills opportunities, training, advice and resources and we will create links between them and the market, employers and government programmes to ensure their business initiatives are productive enough to overcome poverty. We will be working with the Government of Nepal to support and reintegrate survivors of trafficking and slavery. We will do this by providing short-term shelter and other rehabilitation services including psychological counselling, social, skill development and legal support. We will also train Government of Nepal staff in good practice in tackling modern day slavery and collaborate with them to influence strategies, plans and budgets that support this. People with disabilities have been particularly affected by the earthquake so ChildHope will be supporting Shakti Samuha to become a more disability inclusive organisation. We will help it to develop its disability inclusion activities with emphasis on providing assistive devices and education and livelihood support that will enable them to be more independent and included within their community.
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