Where We Work
The village of Okhreni is situated at the height of over 2100 meters in the mountains approximately 86 kilometers outside of Pokhara (four hours jeep journey). There is a well paved road for the first 68 kilometers out of Pokhara, but the remaining distance has only rough road or dirt track. During the monsoon season the villagers find the rough road quite difficult to use.
The estimated population in the village is 303. Similar to other communities in western Nepal, the village economy in Okhreni is largely supported by subsistence farming, though many households collect regular monthly pensions. Paddy, millet, maize and wheat are the main staple food produced on the farms. Only 21 % of households can produce enough food to sustain the family annually. Agricultural problems include low quality soil, limitations of traditional farming systems and a lack of irrigation. In addition to crops, the majority of households in Okhreni village raise domestic animals. As this village is located over 2000 meters, households move herds to the low valleys in the winter and up to the hills during the summer. Goat, sheep, cow, bull, and buffaloes are the main animals raised in the village. Animal husbandry provides the villagers with manure for agriculture, goat and sheep wool for cloth, and dairy and meat products for household consumption. This village has been pro-Moaist during the previous ten years rebellion.
Home and Family
Most of the houses in the area are two stories with slate stone roof. Unlike many other villages in the area the majority of houses have also a separate kitchen and a toilet. There is no water source within the village. The primary source of drinking water lies below the village, and due to the geographical landscape cannot be diverted or piped to a more convenient location. The villagers must carry water up the hill by bucket, which can be a hardship in the winter season. Currently, there is no electricity running to the village. Some local people have installed home solar panels for lighting and radio. Dry and green firewood is only the option in heating and cooking food for the families. Almost all households collect large quantity of firewood annually from the surrounding forests.
The average age for marriage in the village is between 19-21 years, which is slightly higher than most other villages. There is no practice of inter-caste marriages in the village. Dowries for girls are not compulsory but depend on the interest and economic status of the household. The average family size within the village is about seven which is slightly larger than some of our other communities.
Education Within the Village
The Shree Jyoti School in Okhreni educates 243 students from pre-primary to grade ten. Recently, Thomas’s Clapham has funded a new building for the school which was specifically built for the upper three years (grades 8, 9 and 10.) The school follows the curriculum as recommended by the government of which math, science, Nepali, and English are compulsory subjects. Many of the families have left the village for urban areas for better education and health care. Since the migrated families were usually rich and educated, the villagers have found that it is difficult to hire qualified teachers. The Government is also requesting that the community covers two teacher’s salaries (RS 160,000). This demand has created an additional burden for the community. In addition, there is lack of drinking water at the school.
The CAIRN Trust will be monitoring these issues, and working to implement solutions during 2008-9.