Poverty in Nepal is concentrated in rural villages and among ethnic minorities and lower castes. HHC partners with some of the most impoverished and marginalized people in the world, working in remote and isolated northern Dhading villages of Ruby Valley Rural Municipality. Women, Indigenous Tamang, and Dalit community members are at the center of our work.
The Indigenous Tamang people. The Tamang are the largest group of Indigenous people recognized by the government of Nepal. The Tamang are an ancient people known as the original inhabitants of Yambu (the Kathmandu Valley).
Dalit community members. Dalit (formerly “untouchable”) community members suffer long-term marginalization and the harsh legacy of Nepal’s caste system. Although Nepal officially banned untouchability in 2001, Dalit people face intense and ongoing caste discrimination. Kami (blacksmith) people are the largest Dalit group that HHC serves in these communities.
Women. Women’s leadership is vital in these communities where women are the pillars of their households. At the same time, gender discrimination is an entrenched and severe issue in Nepal. On the 2018 UN Gender Inequality Index, Nepal ranked among the most unequal (#147 out of 189 countries). Domestic violence is common, especially in rural areas. Girls and women face systematic inequity, child marriage, restricted opportunities for education and income generation, and limited access to health education and health resources. There is a large gender gap in literacy rate: Per the most recent Nepal Living Standards Survey 2010-2011, male literacy rate was 71.6% compared to 44.5% for women.
Dalit girl students often drop out of school after 8th or 9th grade in response to family pressure to marry and family need for homestead labor. Many marry between ages 15-17 and are then subject to physical abuse from their husbands and in-laws, multiple unwanted pregnancies, no income opportunities, chronic health issues including malnutrition, and early death.
Poverty and post-earthquake recovery. In these remote mountainous villages, community members live in extreme poverty, lack of access to basic health care, and neglect due to geographical isolation. The communities have long lacked clean drinking water and electricity. All of this has been severely exacerbated by the devastation of the 2015 earthquake and its aftermath. In Nepal’s ongoing struggle to recover, this geographically challenging region is the most deprived and the last to receive government support. Many Dhading earthquake victims remain homeless, living in camps and makeshift shelters.
HHC plays a unique role in this isolated region. With a strong focus on women’s empowerment, we have been delivering transformative education, healthcare and livelihood programs in these northern Dhading communities since 1992.