CHOICE’s work in Nepal began in 1999 after visitors returned from Nepal reached out to CHOICE Humanitarian to discuss the needs they saw and to explore the possibility for CHOICE to extend its work to Nepal in the rural communities of the country. CHOICE staff members visited Nepal in the spring of 2000 and met with several locals and together they traveled to the rural village of Okhalepani.
The CHOICE team met with village and community leaders and found that the community presented a great match with CHOICE’s purpose and principles. Okhalepani was identified as the first village CHOICE would partner with in Nepal. The work in Nepal started by supporting three communities to execute projects addressing local needs: a women's development center, a water delivery system, and a renovation project on a local medical clinic. As the program grew, the staff completed formal registration with the Nepal government as a Nepali NGO and prepared CHOICE Nepal’s by-laws.
In the 16 years since these first projects in Okhalepani, the nature of CHOICE’s work in Nepal has changed. CHOICE Nepal has transitioned from being an organization that primarily organized small-scale development projects to being a respected development in large-scale programs and projects. Like in our other countries, CHOICE Nepal staff trains local leaders and put them in charge of supporting the extreme poor in their communities. They give communities the tools to effect real, sustainable change in their lives.
CHOICE Nepal has introduced technologies customized for the specific needs of the communities in Nepal. Technologies which have improved the quality of life for thousands of impoverished people in rural villages around the country. Some of the most effective and widely spread of these technologies are biogas digesters to provide sustainable cooking fuel and reduce animal waste, metal stoves for decreasing indoor air pollution, and greenhouse construction for off-season farming. Local communities have adopted these new tools and made these and other technologies an integral part of their development culture.
The Nepal Self Developing District Program, which was piloted in the small villages of Nepal, has spread throughout Nepal, and the other countries CHOICE works in. It has had a significant impact on village development culture in Nepal, both inside and outside the regions where CHOICE works. Individuals and small communities have come to own their projects; they play an active role by contributing to the development process, and ultimately assimilate the successful model they have learned as a part of their culture. This gives people the skills to recreate the success of these projects on their own, without CHOICE’s intervention or guidance.
The primary focus of CHOICE Nepal has been institutionalizing the best development practices, creating structural relationships, and implementing development practices that are reliable, scalable, and repeatable. CHOICE Nepal is focused on eliminating the deeply rooted practices that led to extreme poverty, in addressing the root causes of poverty in these communities directly - effectively and sustainably fighting poverty from the ground up.