Malnutrition has been a long-standing problem in Karnali mainly due to poverty and lack of awareness among guardians regarding nutritious foods. PHASE Nepal has been working in various districts of Karnali Province focusing on health and wellbeing, food security and other related projects to improve the condition of the population of Karnali. Similarly, RAP3 MHLR also provides on-site health services and related assistance to the MHLR workers and project staff through downstream partner PHASE Nepal in Mugu and Humla. Under MHLR, we raise awareness of health hazards (injuries and disease), how to avoid risks, and self-manage minor illness to keep our workers safe and healthy. PHASE Nepal team also strongly focuses on awareness programme on nutritious foods by promoting local food consumption to our workers. The health team demonstrates training on how to cook “Khichadi”— a very healthy recipe made with local rice, egg, lentils and beans. Our workers also cook Khichadi for their children and they encourage pregnant women, nursing mothers and children to eat Khichadi as a nutritious dish in their community.
Dr. Suman Baidya (Infrastructure Adviser), Surya Rana (Programme Manager), and Rakshya Baral (Programme Support Officer) from British Embassy Kathmandu (BEK) and Pralad Karki (Under Secretary) from Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) visited the entire Mugu Humla Link Road alignment in Mugu and Humla from 20th to 23rd December 2021. The visiting team met and interacted with the Road Maintenance Groups (RMGs), Special Road Building Groups (SRBGs), and Road Building Groups (RBGs) on road sites and observed various project field activities in the MHLR corridor. The team also met with the ward chairperson of Chhayanath Rara Municipality in Bama and talked with the project field staff about the progress, issues, and challenges of the extremely cold weather while working on the construction site.
Mr. Karki from MoFAGA praised our field team and workers for their dedication to project work despite the harsh weather in Mugu and Humla. He was also delighted to see more female members involving in road construction work on the site and he provided a satisfactory response for timely construction of quality roads in such remote districts.
RAP3 MHLR field team supported Chhayanath Rara Municipality, Mugu to conduct a vaccination programme in Satthaple, Humla from 18 to 19 December 2021. This programme was organised to provide vaccinations to the locals of Mugu who had gone to Humla to work in road construction as SRBGs (Special Road Building Groups) on MHLR. A total of 308 people received the first dose of the vaccination, with 79 receiving the second dose.
As part of promoting diversity and inclusion at the workplace, this month, the Construction Field Team presented an event titled ‘How do we want to remember Mugu-Humla after RAP3 MHLR’ on 17th December 2021. The team shared their happy experiences working on the RAP3 MHLR project, geographical struggles they faced in Mugu-Humla, lessons learnt and their overall beautiful memories while working in MHLR. The field team has also expressed their contentment now that the remote regions of Mugu and Humla have been connected by road network, as well as their joy at being able to travel to field using four-wheel vehicles and motorbikes.
The RAP3 MHLR project will always heartily appreciate the patience and hard work of the entire Mugu Humla field staff who, despite of challenges, be it extreme weather, remoteness of place, difficult terrain, or any other issues arising at field resolutely joined in delivery of the objectives of the project.
The Central team visited MoPIUD Karnali Province, Infrastructure Development Directorate (IDD) Surkhet, three RMG sites in Surkhet and Dailekh and organised one-day Review Workshop of the Institutional Support Component during the visit.
The Institutional Component is planned to complete soon for which the team is coordinating with Local Government bodies for the continuity of maintenance works through Local Governments. The team held a meeting with the new secretary of MoPIUD and the director of IDD, Surkhet on 23rd November 2021 and informed about the component’s exit plan. At the RMG sites visit, the team interacted with RMG members and provided recommendations to the field team for further improvement. At the review workshop at Birendranagar, Surkhet on 25th November, the team focused on developing a shared understanding of various aspects of Institutional Component, in particular, working with provincial government, local government, RMG and general public; progress review; discussion on lessons learnt – successes and challenges; and discussed exit plans, typically how sustainable asset management can be ensured.
In a country where period stigma is still prevalent, women workers in Karnali faced extra barriers to maintain hygienic period as many women were not accustomed to using sanitary pads during menstruation. Also, the available pads in the market are expensive for women workers in Karnali and they are not reusable. Therefore, to ensure the women felt comfortable to work, even while menstruating, RAP3 MHLR organised training in 2019 to make reusable sanitary pads. Women also had the opportunity to engage in menstrual hygiene workshop.
In a recent field visit by central team to Mugu and Humla, Safeguards and communication coordinator had the opportunity to speak with female workers about their experience after receiving training on making sanitary napkins. The women workers expressed how the training has brought about behavioral changes as they now use reusable sanitary pads during their period which has made working in road a lot easier. While some female workers shared that they are actually putting the skills that they learnt during the training into practice by making new reusable sanitary pads for themselves. In addition, some female workers have proudly passed on the skill of making pads to their young daughters and now they also make similar pads to keep them clean and comfortable during menstruation.
On behalf of every member of RAP3 MHLR, we would like to convey our profound gratitude for the hard work and splendid performance of our Office and Logistics Manager, Maiya Maharjan and Supply Chain Manager, Chen Pathmanathan over the years. Maiya joined the RAP project in 1998 as a Receptionist at RAP1 and continued to work till date at RAP3 MHLR as an Office and Logistics Manager. Maiya, feeling a little emotional and happy, she shared with us, “I have spent more than two decades of my valuable time for this project. I could not go elsewhere in search of better opportunities because I found this project to be the best fit for me. Honestly, I am a product of this project because I joined this project when I was a young woman and had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. Thanks to all of the opportunities provided by this project, as well as all of the wonderful and inspiring team members I met along the way of RAP journey. Because of this project, I was able to gain tremendous knowledge that has helped me shape myself as a strong and independent woman. I would also like to take this opportunity today to share that our Team Leader, Kirsteen Merrilees, is a great inspiration to me because she always chooses to stand out strong and unique even in a room full of male staff, and her work, great leadership skills, team management skills, and humble behaviour have always taught me to be a powerful woman. Living in a traditional Newari community was not easy, but the project’s inclusive nature, equal space for all staff regardless of gender, inspiring project events such as inclusion events, e-learning training, and our powerful female project staff from various backgrounds gave me an immense boost to my confidence and subtly challenging the patriarchal setting of our Newari community. I am happy and proud to have spent all of these dignified years with RAP3 MHLR family and I will always cherish all the memories I have made living with this beautiful and inclusive family”.
Maiya is people’s person and go-to person for the project. It has been a great privilege and an honor to have this powerful woman working for RAP with her great effort and determination.
Similarly, Chen started working on RAP3 in 2017 to bring a different perspective to procurement. He led the supply chain management transition from a transactional traditional procurement practice to a supplier relationship management practice. Apart from regular procurement of goods and services for the project, Chen supported to deliver service contracts with various parties and also led on e-learnings to bring staff upto speed on management best practices, compliance to FCDO supply partner code of conduct and also led on FCDO’s asset management and disposal. Chen’s respectful and humble demeanor, his great sense of humor, fun-loving nature and his unconditional support for the betterment of this project will be fondly remembered.
Best wishes to Chen and Maiya for their future endeavors!
As part of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, last month, the Institutional Field Team held an event on ‘Home away from home—sharing memories, experiences, struggles and personal stories from RAP3 MHLR field life’ on 26th November 2021. The Institutional field team shared their happy experiences working on the RAP3 MHLR project, geographical struggles they encountered during field visits, problem-solving skills in dealing with local government and third parties, home sickness while away from family and their overall beautiful memories. The team conveyed the message that the harmony, affection, care and guidance within the team members help to keep them happy and overcome difficulties along the way while staying away from home and family. It is a great honor to know the beautiful, challenging and inspiring field experiences of our hard-working team. We are also proud to see their inclusiveness, respect, and a sense of belonging with each other at field offices.
In Rural Access Programme3 Mugu Humla Link Road (RAP3 MHLR), the project ensures a safe and equitable workplace for everyone working on the project. We encourage our beneficiaries to not be victims of any form of violence but to report it. On the occasion of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, we would like to highlight some of the major activities we have undertaken in the project to prevent any form of violence/discrimination/ harassment and to encourage both male and female beneficiaries and project staff in helping challenge gender inequality, gender stereotypes, gender roles and all sorts of gender traits and bias in order to build a healthy and gender-neutral society for all.
In RAP3 MHLR, the project ensures a safe and equitable workplace for everyone working on the project. We encourage our beneficiaries to not be victims of any form of violence but to report it. On the occasion of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, we would like to highlight some of the major activities we have undertaken in the project to prevent any form of violence/discrimination/ harassment and to encourage both male and female beneficiaries and project staff in helping challenge gender inequality, gender stereotypes, gender roles and all sorts of gender traits and bias in order to build a healthy and gender-neutral society for all.
As part of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, this month, the Kathmandu team held an event on the Lessons Learned from COVID-19 on 12th November 2021. The team performed a short play that conveyed the message on how we need to remain flexible, safe and cautious during this pandemic to best handle the “new (temporary) normal.” The team also emphasised the significant role of organisations in society in containing the coronavirus by keeping their staff informed and aware of the COVID-19. They also praised the efforts of RAP3 MHLR in developing a remobilization plan that guides staff on how to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The inclusion team concluded their event sharing that the project’s leadership and efforts have helped the project staff remain conscious and rational throughout this tough period of the pandemic, which itself is a tremendous learning opportunity for the staff.
We are delighted to learn from the inclusion event that RAP3 MHLR’s contribution on coronavirus prevention and guidance has enabled our staff spread positivity and awareness in the community.
RAP3 MHLR organised a one-day internal workshop for the first time since October 2019. As cases of coronavirus infections have been dropping in recent days, the project held an internal team workshop on 29th October 2021 at Dhokaima Café, Patan. The workshop was conducted in compliance with the Health and Safety protocol of the Government of Nepal as well as the project’s Remobilisation Plan, version 3.
At the workshop, the construction and the institutional teams held separate meetings with their respective team members and discussed various topics within their component. The construction team discussed field challenges such as site monitoring, measurement of work, valuation and payment of workers, site management during monsoon, site safety and sought solutions to manage these challenges. The session also focused on the lessons learnt while working in hybrid construction and liaising with different government agencies, and the implementation plan of the outstanding works and monsoon damage works. Similarly, the institutional team presented on various topics including issues related to technical, political, social and geographical challenges they faced while working in the field, lessons learnt, achievements, the way forward, and impact of COVID-19 in the field.
Following the sessions of the construction and the institutional teams, the governance team briefed about FCDO compliance, procurement and disposal, technical management, risk management, performance management, safeguards and communication, focusing on information that needs to be shared between the field and central teams, as well as lessons learnt. The admin team further elaborated on asset disposal procedures and plans to re-open the central office for general use following the decline of new COVID-19 cases in the Kathmandu valley. The full team workshop was highly informative and productive in terms of sharing challenges, project accomplishments, areas for future improvement, as well as allowing all team members to catch up and meet in person after a long time.
RAP3 MHLR conducted a Graduate workshop for everyone in the graduate programme on 1st November 2021 at Dhokaima Café, Patan. The graduate workshop was attended by all the graduates based in Kathmandu and Karnali Province, the Team Leader, Deputy Team Leader, Senior Stakeholder Coordinator, Safeguards and Compliance Engineer, Province Support Engineer, Deputy Province Support Engineer and two Senior Engineers.
Each graduate was given three different questions to address in their presentations. The graduates presented on what they like the most working in RAP3 MHLR, aspects they would change if they had an opportunity, if their job description met their expectations, challenges they have faced while working, their professional development and their ambitions/expectations both within and outside the project. The presenters addressed concerns and queries from fellow participants as well as provided recommendations and highlighted accomplishments based on their learnings and work experiences in the project. The senior staff helped clarify the issues and queries raised during the workshop and also noted down recommendations for moving forward.
All of the graduates gave excellent presentations and their years of work experience, learnings and solving issues independently that emerged in their work have made these young graduates matured, professional and strong which is a great accomplishment for the project and graduates.
On this auspicious occasion, the entire RAP3 MHLR team would like to wish a prosperous and safe Dashain to you all. May you celebrate this festival safely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep your loved ones safe.
Have a memorable Dashain Festival 2021! Stay safe and healthy!!!