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Child Welfare Scheme Nepal (CWSN)

The Challenge

Nepal is making encouraging progress toward Millennium Development Goal targets, but it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with low levels of employment, high child and maternal mortality rates and poor access to basic healthcare services.

The situation for children in the country's remote, rural areas is even more critical. With a median age of 22, Nepal's population is incredibly young, however 20% of children in Nepal will never go to school, 45% will not complete primary education and 41% are chronically malnourished.

More than 40% of children between the ages of five and 17 work to supplement their families’ incomes, keeping them out of education. 12% find themselves in 'detrimental work' and 8% in the worst forms of child labour. One third of children must work for their survival, with thousands living or working on the streets, and thousands more thought to be trafficked to India each year.

The Response

CWSN, the only local organisation to have received two Impact Awards, aims to bring about sustainable positive change for marginalised children and young people living in urban slums and remote villages.

In practice, this means CWSN offers long term health and education programmes to people who have no other alternative. CWSN won an Impact Award for Health in 2009 and for Education in 2013.

Its flagship health programme, Asha Health Care, is a modern medical centre which has been running since 2000. The clinic offers basic healthcare and medication alongside education on nutrition, safe motherhood and immunisation. Not only does CWSN offer these much needed services free of charge, but it also adapts its approach to the needs of a largely illiterate population. An example of this is the use of sunrise and sunset symbols to indicate what time of the day medication needs to be taken.

CWSN also runs three mobile health clinics around Pokhara and 14 rural day care health centres in remote villages, each one managed by a committee of local people supported by CWSN staff.

Close to 4,000 children and women attend the Asha and mobile health clinics on a monthly basis. As a result, the organisation is providing essential primary healthcare to those who would otherwise go without. As CWSN grows, it is also sharing its experience with other organisations in the region in order to deliver comprehensive and holistic services to more communities in Western Nepal.

CWSN's education interventions include Early Childhood Development Centres in remote Nepali villages and a vocational training centre, as well as providing longer term career guidance, social support and subsidised accommodation in 'mid-way homes' for those CWSN graduates seeking to take up permanent employment and become self-reliant. The organisation runs a project for isolated street children, providing them with access to informal education, health and social services.

Since its foundation, CWSN has always encouraged the local community to get involved in the planning, development and evaluation of its programmes.

To date, the organisation has reached almost half a million children, young people and families. In remote villages, more than 3,000 children have received early education services, with both enrolment and learning achievements significantly improved. 14 Early Childhood Development Centres are run by local communities, and hundreds of vocational training alumni have gone on to integrate fully into wider society; one beautician graduate now offers jobs to other disadvantaged girls.

The Result

With its 2009 Impact Award, CWSN extended its clinic, creating a space dedicated to preventive health activities such as immunisation, health education, nutrition and support. It also updated health workers' and local volunteers' training.

CWSN has also set up a fundraising and IT department, resulting in a diversification of funding sources and better management of programmes.

Photos: Suraj Ratna Shakya / Majority World

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