Disclaimer: these are working notes taken during the field visit. They are provided here to give a sense of the conversation that took place in the field, and to put evidence in context. The notes have not been edited to be a final product. They might contain some inaccuracies and glitches. Information, findings will be further revised by checking reports, by crosschecking additional evidence and in additional exchanges with key evaluation stakeholders
We met the CARE Nepal team at their office in Dhading. The team provided a brief overview of CARE programming. CARE came to Dhading a week after the earthquake and works in 6 VDCs. They have worked in shelter, WASH, food security, SRMH (sexual reproductive and maternal health), and GBV (Gender based violence).
Households are currently the measure of beneficiaries, but households in Nepal are very different, there are small households and larger household. For the shelter items, it was decided by the Government to cover the entire fully damaged household in the blanket approach. The shelter kits were distributed; they didn’t do it based on the size of household. The kits were decided by the cluster and government. The toolkits are centrally procured, and no one asked the community what they needed – or to check the content. Initially CARE did a need assessments, based on the check assessment CARE decided what should be in the kit. CARE did not go back and ask the beneficiaries if the kit content – as per the cluster decision – was suitable.
All the kits were the same; they were all standard no matter the household size. The Government has requested NGOs to make the same package standard for shelter – but also for other items. For example, households would receive the same number of blankets, regardless of the number of family members.
IN several cases there was a cluster discussion about providing a standard package or tailored package but the government recommended that standard package is provided. The household numbers that are provided in the government list doesn’t mean that everyone lives under the same roof.
We had a long discussion to understand why the effort was to give blanket distribution to each household rather than to each individual. If the concern was to give to everyone equally, clearly a blanket distribution by HH does not achieve the result.
In discussion, different points were made
- It was not easy to give different package for different household. It was more efficient to give everyone the same package.
- A different number per household, it means household verification beforehand. The government gives you the total number of people with damaged houses in the district. There are many population movements, and it is hard to track. However some of the distribution mentioned happened several months after the quake, when time for checking was possibly available.
The government had not allowed “discrimination” for example in the case of winterization. Despite the obvious diverse needs for clothing, the voucher system used by CARE could not be adapted neither for the size of the family, nor for giving more support to these living in the higher up and coldest areas. Everyone had to get the same. NGOs were told by the government that they needed to treat higher and lower altitudes equally. The Government wanted NGOs to keep the winterisation support at 10,000 NPR per household, as that is the support the government provided. Everything should be discussed in the cluster, the head of the cluster takes the decision to the DDRC and it has to be approved. But who are we accountable to?
So far CARE hasn’t received any complaints about this issue. CARE has received a lot of complaints about the cracked houses, houses that were marked damaged and residents believe that their houses should be marked destroyed, that there wasn’t a consistent criterion from VDC to VDC. But no one complained for having received a smaller package despite having higher needs.
Nepalese – including these working in NGOs! – are adapted to listen to the decision from the government. The process is not participatory. The GoN makes decisions and they disseminate this decision through the radio. This is how people are trained within Nepalese culture. Everyone has to adapt accordingly to the government. This is the culture – no consultation.
It then emerged, however, that CARE was allowed to give extra blankets to the most vulnerable; pregnant and lactating women, elderly, disabled, etc. So, why is that it is possible to give more to special categories and do not consider other factors for inequality? it is mentioned that these people are easier to find. We have a discussion to understand: it easier to identify the lactating women rather than the number of household? There are social mobilisers who work with the lactating women, and pregnant women. If it is difficult to identify the number of household partially because of the migration, the number of people in the household is fluid. (However we point out also that the lactating women number changes constantly, and different women might have different needs and lactate for different periods – not the standards 2 years mentioned in the discussion)
CARE needs to empower the community people to talk about these injustices. They may complain, but CARE needs to create the environment to gather those types of complaints. We need to empower these people who are really in need.
When CARE asks the community who is vulnerable, the community says that we are all vulnerable. The powerful individuals complain more and get more results than the vulnerable ones. “The community” was that everyone gets a package, if we go for targeting the community (=these who would be left out!) resist. If we tried to target our beneficiaries, they won’t allow us to work.
DDRC says that agencies should not provide assistance to people who have two houses where only one was destroyed. CARE tried not to give them assistance because they had an intact household, even though they have a red card. The community helped in identifying these households. One of these households called CARE’s CD to complain about this issue. CARE identified the households are fake and reported it to the local government after that 26 households had to return the money to the government. CARE was the only organisation that tried to not give assistance for those that have 2 houses.
Some families have four or five cards, – therefore a single households that get 10 bundles of CGI because of all of the red cards. How do you stop this from happening? CARE has community mobilisers who visit the households to get this kind of information; we then cross reference this information with the Ward Citizen Forum. During the distributions CARE checks the number of identity cards per household in front of a group people. This is how CARE ensures that they don’t lie; they are more than likely to tell the truth in a public forum.
The district has had a 25% – 30% increase in the number of household. Government is now organising a validation team for the number of households who have damaged households. Even if CARE or other NGOs had a validated list of households for the district the government would not accept the list. The Government only wants use their own institutions, they don’t believe other organisations, they don’t’ want to take a risk with our data. If the government won’t accept CARE’s data, how do make sure that the government data is good data? It will be more filtered than the previous list, but CARE doesn’t believe it will be accurate.
In one VDC, CARE was planning on providing CGI, but asked the DDRC/CBO to do an assessment to double check that if all of these households that were fully damaged or not. CARE got permission from the CBO to not provide CGI if the houses are not fully damaged. Most of the household were made from stone and mud, most were cracked but some are still standing.
A new data set will be happening collected soon- how do NGOs make sure that this is reliable? The donor government have pressured the Government of Nepal to re-survey the households and their damaged households. If the Government of Nepal does respond to pressure, then why don’t INGOs apply pressure? CARE and INGO did not mobilise forums at the district level to raise their voices. The NGOs didn’t want to raise isses that the CBOs don’t want to hear.
Rapid Gender Analysis Discussion
After lunch we resume discussion to understand how much the Rapid Gender Analysis documents were used. They were created by CARE at the beginning of the emergency for all four target districts. They have been circulated to the Earthquake Response Team but the team in Dhading has not read them.
Some of the reasons given to why they haven’t read them include the workload, the vast number of emails: reading long documents are not the priority.
What would be the best strategy so that the team could absorb the information? CARE has a Monday morning meeting all staff; if we discuss this in our Monday meeting then we could absorb the information. Maybe we can put it up on a display board in the office so that we can see the information more regularly.
We have regular programming where we systematically share learning, but they struggle to do share information and discuss learning in the emergency phase; to sit and reflect about the programming. Once you’re hired, you have a brief orientation and then you move directly to the field. Staff learn by doing, there isn’t a lot of time to read. Some of the ideas shared included:
- Learning can be done via group discussions, sharing with one another through conversation.
- Whatever it is, it needs to be short and brief.
- Like to read the case studies.
- We need to format the document to highlight the key words first, reading the highlighting points of a document.
- It needs to be written in simple language or a local language.
- We all come from different fields; health background, scientific background, engineer background – the technical gender language is not helpful. It is difficult to understand some times.
- Visual representatives would help; small cartoons, cartoon strips.