Mountain EbA Nepal: Field Trip – Tatopani village, Rasuwa District – August 2018
NEPAL: Mountain EbA Field Trip to Tatopani Village, Rasuwa District–August, 2018As our Scaling Up Mountain EbA Program continues its work in the Panchase area of western Nepal, we began new projects in the Chilime watershed in Rasuwa District of Central Nepal. Our field trips to the remote mountain villages of Gongang and Tatopani were focused on implementing specific activities chosen during a participatory process that took place in these villages in December, 2017 and February, 2018.
Like many mountain villages, Tatopani residents are seeking sustainable ways to make a living while also conserving their surrounding ecosystems. The name of the village itself is the Nepali word for “hot water”–Tatopani was widely known for its hot springs. Tourists from around the country used to come to this village to help cure ailments ranging from rheumatism to paralysis. Almost all the houses in Tatopani are either small hotels or guest lodges. Unfortunately, about three months after the devastating 2015 earthquake, the hot water spring dried up. Studies and surveys indicate that the water has shifted deeper below the Earth’s surface. Although tourists on the Tamang Heritage Trail still visit Tatopani, the local tourism business is nothing like it used to be.
That is why the alternative livelihood from cultivating, conserving, promoting and selling high-value medicinal plants in this watershed area was identified as a high priority for Tatopani. Of special interest was the plant Paris polyphylla, known locally as “satuwa.”
We are very grateful to our local NGO partner, Manekor Society Nepal and to local representatives of Aama Chhodingmo Rural Municipality for their advice, feedback and support. Special thanks to Muna Tamang and Yubraj Poudel Chettri for their knowledge and assistance.
Just prior to our work in Tatopani village, we spent a few days in nearby Gongang village (about 2.5 hour trek) for a medicinal plants training session. Read about our Gongang field trip here.
View of Tatopani village in Rasuwa District
Tatopani village is at 2,600 meters asl, about a 2.5 hour uphill trek from nearby Gongang village. Tatopani and Gongang are located in the Chilime Watershed in Rasuwa district in Central Nepal. Tatopani is known for its Tamang heritage. The Tamang people are the largest Tibeto-Burman ethnic group within Nepal and traditionally Buddhist by religion. © A. Rai
Community gathering and training
Ang Tsering Tamang, the executive director of our local partner, the Manekor Society Nepal, meets with local farmers to explain our medicinal plants training in the local language (Tamang). MAPs training took place over 2 days and included both theoretical and practical sessions. © A. Rai
Clearing land at the nursery site
Farmers participating in the MAPs training worked hard to build a demonstration nursery in Tatopani. Locals provided labor and the group used locally available tools and materials such as forest soil, sand and wooden planks to build nursery beds. The MAPs trainer provided technical support and expertise. © A. Rai
Preparing land for the nursery
The nursery was built on a nearby terrace with a view of Tatopani village. MAPs workshop participants built a total of five nursery beds. © A. Rai
Women farmers, participants in MAPs training in Tatopani
Over the years, we have seen in our MAPs workshops that an average of about 40 percent of participating farmers are women. Our inclusive, participatory approach is helping to integrate sustainable livelihoods with environmental and cultural concerns. We are honored to partner with remote mountain villages to help these communities remain vibrant and become more resilient. Especially as they face the challenges of climate change. © A. Rai
Transplanting satuwa rhizomes
After specific training on the care, planting and sustainable harvesting of satuwa rhizomes, it was time for transplanting. Approximately 300 rhizomes were planted in each nursery bed. Then each bed was mulched with local ferns and grasses. A roof was then built for shade from the intense sun at this elevation. © A. Rai
Nursery beds planted with satuwa, mulched and shaded
A total of 1,500 satuwa rhizomes were transplanted in the five nursery beds. The Tatopani community has hired a nursery care taker for the project and water pipes and a tank will be installed to water these valuable plants at the peak of dry season during March and April. © A. Rai
Honoring our eldest farmer
After helping prepare the soil and build nursery beds, our eldest farmer took a well-deserved rest. © A. Rai
Distributing Satuwa rhizomes to training participants
Approximately 200 satuwa rhizomes were distributed to each participant who completed both the theoretical and practical sessions. Satuwa can be used as a pain reliever, an antispasmodic medicine and a treatment for diphtheria and epidemic Japanese B encephalitis. A mixture of its roots and rhizomes can be used to treat poisonous snake and insect bites and wounds. A MAPs Farmers Group was established and will serve as both a monitoring and support group for the newly trained MAPs farmers of Tatopani. © A. Rai