Spotlight on Street Child and their UK Aid Direct project

Street Child believe that achieving universal basic education is the single greatest step that can be taken towards the elimination of global poverty. 121 million school-aged children are currently out of education world-wide. Millions more are in school but failing to learn.

UK Aid Direct funding is supporting Street Child through an Impact grant, to run a 36-month project in Nepal. This grant is helping the Musahar community gain access to education, and is allowing them to build the skills needed to run their own businesses and break free from poverty.

Musahars are the most politically marginalised, economically exploited and socially outcast group in Nepal. They have been traditionally oppressed through a system of caste segregation that considers them pariahs. They are alienated from other communities – some people won’t even buy a cup of tea or food served by a Musahar.

The Musahar literacy rate is just 3.8% amongst women and girls and 100% are out of school after the age of 10. This project will support 3,650 Musahar girls aged 15 to 18 in Dhanusha, Mahottari and Siraha in Nepal, to achieve functional literacy and numeracy.

The girls take part in a tailored education programme which will also support them to transition into employment. This work will help them to overcome poverty and break free from generations of bonded labour; where a person pledges their services as a payment for a debt, but as the terms of the agreement are unclear the person holding the debt then has control over the labourer.

Many of the girls taking part in the education programme have been sharing their stories with us.

Three young girls tell their stories
Runa Devi (middle, red sari, 16), Dutri Devi (right, red & yellow sari, 18) and Sitli Devi (left, orange sari, 18)

These girls are neighbours from the same village and are enrolled in the education programme. They are all married, passionate and ambitious, determined to change attitudes to girls’ education in their communities and set up their own businesses. Sitli wants to run a grocery shop, Runa wants to set up a tailoring business and Dutri wants to create a cosmetics business.

Jiten sir (the community educator), was the one who informed us of the classes in the community centre and encouraged us to attend. In our first few months, we have learnt the Nepali alphabet and can count-up to 100. This encourages us and gives us hope about what we can learn with even more lessons.

Our families are very supportive, and our husbands encourage us to go to classes every day to get an education. We hope that with an education we can set up our own small businesses. The only shops we have in our village are liquor shops, run by men. By having our own businesses, we think we can set an example to our community and help change attitudes.

Nandani, a 25 year old mother of four is breaking down barriers by running her own successful fruit stall in Lahan, Siraha:

It’s been three years since I started this business. I save Rs.200 per day and Rs.6000 per month. I am very happy with it.

Three years ago, I didn’t work. My husband works as a mason. It used to be very difficult for us to manage our expenses. We sent our kids to school, but it used to be a struggle to cover their costs. I was not confident to work myself. Later, my husband supported me to start this business and we took a Rs.40,000 loan from Swabalamban Microfinance, as well as some money from creditors. We started the business with a few fruits.

Initially, I didn’t know how to do calculations, which is why I was losing money for a few months. But my daughter then taught me how to do them. Thanks to her, I can do all of the calculations for my business myself now.

I know the importance of sending my children to school and I’m so proud that all four of them are attending.

By educating and giving Musahar girls livelihood training, the project will enable them to eventually earn an income which will contribute to household costs and sending the next generation of Musahar children to school.

From Wednesday 26 September to Thursday 27 September 2018, an open learning and networking event for UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match grant holders will take place in Bakhundole, Lalitpur in Nepal.

The objective of the event is to bring grant holders together to allow the sharing of experiences and learnings, as well as to provide a deeper understanding to grant holders of DFID’s strategy.

Street Child will be our hosts for the event.

Date for the diary: free webinar

On Thursday 27 September at 11:00am (BST), UK Aid Direct grant holders Carers Worldwide (opens in a new window) will be sharing learnings from their project entitled:

‘Improving the physical and mental health, promoting social inclusion and increasing the household income of 1,500 carers of mentally ill individuals in Nepal.’

They will talk about the challenges, as well as the opportunities of engaging with local government.

The presentation will open at the end to allow for questions from the audience.

Register your interest today to be part of the webinar.

A recording of the webinar will be made available after the event.

World Water Week 2018 and UK Aid Direct grant holders

As many of our grant holders will know, this week is World Water Week, an annual event that brings together practitioners, innovators, and professionals from a variety of sectors, to exchange ideas, network, and to develop solutions to water-related challenges.

The theme this year is ‘water, ecosystems and human development’, and it is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden until 31 August.

For every funding round UK Aid Direct receives a number of applications to support water-specific projects (WASH) and we work closely with partners the Water, Engineering and Development Centre of Loughborough University (WEDC), to select the strongest of these.

Pump Aid is an Impact grant holder working with some of the poorest and hard to reach communities in Malawi to provide safe water and toilets.

Pump Aid irrigation pump and crops

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals set ambitious targets for future development but, in our drive to increase economic development and human resilience, it is easy to overlook the effect such actions have on the environment and vital ecosystems. Pump Aid’s (DFID-funded) self-supply programme seeks to address both these objectives by helping rural populations increase their access to water and improve their efficient use of it.

“For example, our rope-and-washer pumps are manufactured close to the point of sale (reducing the need for polluting transport), their manufacturers use locally sourced and, wherever possible, locally recycled materials minimising the use of scarce resources…

“Securing the engagement and commitment of the whole community is vital for the delivery of economic development in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly ways and the commitment of Pump Aid’s entrepreneurs to the roll-out of this programme is a tremendous endorsement of Pump’s Aid work and of the visionary approach taken by DFID when they agreed to fund the original pilot.”

– Michael Chuter, Chief Executive, Pump Aid

Community Partnership grant holders WellFound believe that clean water not only tackles direct issues such as water-related diseases but it also provides a solid base for communities to grow and take further steps to improve their daily lives.

“We have heard recently that in the village of Paili where WellFound has been working, their new well has become a community hub where men, women and children happily gather to fetch water for drinking, washing and cooking, whilst catching up with their neighbours and friends… With women and children spending less time each day fetching water, many more are able to attend school and gain an education which will help themselves and their families in the future.”

Women working to pump water from their new community well built by WellFound

For new Community Partnership grant holders, Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), although water is not the primary focus of the menstrual hygiene project they are delivering in Uganda with partners Faith in Water, a lack of water is proving to be a big challenge for them. Especially in the rural schools they are working with.

“Only 3 of the 12 Christian rural schools have a fully functioning water source within the school compound and for 3 of them the nearest water source is over 1km away. One of the Muslim schools, in a poor urban area near Kampala, had no water at all within 2.5km.

“There were hand washing facilities in just 4 of the schools and in 2 of them this consisted of a single jerry can.

“Dignity for Girls: Engaging faith groups in Uganda on menstrual health is providing rainwater harvesting tanks in 9 of the schools and repairing existing rainwater harvesting tanks in others. We are also building hand washing facilities in all the schools.”

– Susie Weldon, Faith in Water

Learn more about water-related challenges and the sustainable innovative solutions being discussed at World Water Week 2018 by

  • tuning in to the live-streamed events taking place throughout the week (or watch them after the event has happened) ; view a full programme here and
  •  follow #WWWeek and #Live on Twitter

Thank you to grant holders Pump Aid, WellFound and Alliance of Religions and Conservation for their comments on the use of water in their projects.

Children at a primary school, in Hoima District, Uganda, test out their new hand washing facility, installed with the UK Aid Direct Dignity for Girls project from ARC.