Nepali Times Asian Paints
Development without government


Ramechhap district may be only 200 km to the east of Kathmandu, but it was till recently as remote as far-western Nepal.

Villagers had to travel three days on foot to reach Manthali, the district capital. The nearest roadhead was 70 km north in Charikot of Dolakha.� Soon, after the bridge over the Sunkosi is built, Ramechhap will be connected to the Sindhuli Highway and Kathmandu will be only four hours away. And all 55 VDCs of Ramechhap are now connected by roads.

However, despite the improvement in connectivity, Ramecchap is still lagging behind many neighbouring districts in education, nutrition and child survival. Things were much worse in 1984, Ramechhap was like Bajhang or Bajura in western Nepal in terms of development. That was when� Jagadish Ghimire started the Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS) to lift his home district out of poverty and deliver service that the government was not providing.

Ghimire and his wife, Durga, got TSS involved in improving local livelihoods, set up drinking water systems, improved sanitation, health and irrigation. TSS is almost a 'parallel government' in Ramechhap, establishing a 15-bed community hospital, much before the government built a district hospital. It has a 24-hour emergency and ambulance service and has a fund to treat poorer patients.

Although TSS still receives funds for some of its projects, it is striving to become self-reliant. The hospital, for instance, meets its operational costs through a cooperative and conducts health camps throughout the district in partnership with institutions like Dhulikhel hospital and Tilganga eye hospital. Says Ghimire "Self-reliance is the single most important indicator of local development. The purpose of the external support should be to create independence not dependence."

TSS's rural drinking water and latrine construction campaigns have benefited tens of thousands of families and dramatically improved public health in Ramechhap, lowering the infant and child mortality rates.

Talking about the need for targeted development Ghimire explained,"Women were spending most of their time collecting firewood and drinking water, so we felt that to improve their lives we had to make both those things more accessible."�

Today, besides the visible signs of prosperity with its rural electrification and roads, development indicators like rapidly declining maternal mortality and under-five child mortality, show just how dramatic the progress has been.

Suman Karmacharya joined TSS as a medical intern 18 years ago, and� remembers treating hundreds of patients in the fields outside the clinic. "Many suffered from easily preventable water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and jaundice," says Karmacharya, "today we don't get too many of these cases and that is because they have safe drinking water and improved sanitation."

TSS is remarkable because it always involves local communities. While the project brings knowhow and money, it is the local farmers who take responsibility to carry out activities. Local communities therefore have ownership, and generate their own money to run and maintain the water supply, irrigation or health schemes.

"The transparency and accountability of the organization makes it one of our most successful partners," says Bhagat Bista of the Swiss aid group, Helvetas, which has worked with TSS in over 50 irrigation projects.

It is perhaps because of local ownership and support that TSS projects in Ramechhap continued undisturbed even during the years of conflict.

Asked about� TSS's future projects, Ghimire says, "We are trying to maintain what we have. The hospital service needs to be upgraded as more patients seek its service and there is more demand for irrigation schemes."


The Ramechhap district capital of Manthali is one of the few places in Nepal where a government-run school is more popular than private ones.

�Manthali Higher Secondary School and Martyr Memorial Campus could be role models for how to sustainably run high-quality schools in rural Nepal without having to charge exhorbitant fees.

The school and campus run classes from pre-primary to Masters level for 5,000 students, and education is free till Grade 8. The fees are as low as Rs 50 per month for high school and not more than Rs1,000 per month for the college.

The campus currently offers higher education in business studies, education and humanities and has plans to run rural development and sociology programs.

Gunja Bahadur Shrestha has been principal for 20 years, and says: "There are many private colleges in the district, but the affordability and quality of education we offer makes this campus the first choice of many students."

1. Madan Jnavaly
Yes, I agreed that TSS has been doing good work in Ramechap. However some of the government resources is also use through TSS.  Some of the Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation system (seen in photo as written FDB) has supported by the Rural Water Suppl y and Sanitation Fund Development Board (a government body) through TSS which is mentioned in news cover.

2. Daniel Gajaraj
Rebuilding Nepal.

Jagadish Ghimire and Gunja Bahadur Shresta are the real sons/ role models  of Rebuilding Nepal . They know that Nepal with the history of more than 3000 years and having contributed to enrich world civilization can only be reconstructed, . New Nepal ,this expression itself is oxymoron  or wrong. Unlike Us or Australia it is not a new territory where one had to start from the scratch.
 Nepal is an old building or a structure which had some part in a dilapidated condition and that needs rebuilding. That's all. Only fools talk of a New Nepal.

3. dravin
This is known as "aafno gau aafai banau". I wish all the Tighre Thakuris of Gorkha, Bajhang, Jajarkot, Mustang, etc would start the similar project to promote the local economies. Hats off to these guys!

4. Khagendra Thapa
This  is very remarkable. Other districts should learn from Ramechhap. Jagadish Ghimire is a true leader and not the criminal gangs who have taken over the government of Nepal. This is a good example how empowerment of local government really works. I believe that if you now bring federalism even Ramechhap will be destroyed and the work of MR. Ghimire will suffer.

5. Suman Shrestha
After a long time, there is something good to read about. Mr. Gagdish Ghimire, way to go. Bravo. Well done. I was wondering where other people like yourself in Nepal are, and what are they doing with their lives. Reading about your service to the Motherland makes me proud to be a Nepali. If you can use the same energy now to rid Nepal of corrupt and immoral leadership, the children of Nepal would have a bright future. Mr. Ghimire, your hard work proves that Govt. needs to empower the people and let them do all the work. In Nepal, the Govt. is the problem and not a solution. We need Free Enterprise not bull shit rules and regulation. Mr. Ghimire, you should be the Prime Minister of Nepal not criminals and cheats and liars like Dueba or Prachnade or Jhala Nath or Maakuney.  These gang of thugs deserve to rot in jail. I am waiting for the day to read that Gagdish Ghimire has become the P M of Nepal. Jai Nepal.    

6. Bimala Sharma
Mr. J Ghimire - U Da Man ! Its good to know that you are paying your debt to society and country. People of Ramechhap are lucky to have you. Govts. do not do anything. They only spend tax payer's money. Its free enterprise that works. Its power of the people that works. These days, the Civil Society of Nepal is very UNCIVIL. With all the outrage, day in and day out by the Maoist, no body has the courage or balls to do anything. Ghimre for P M. That is what is needed. Can you Mr. Ghimire do for Nepal what you have done for Ramechhap. Good luck to you.      

7. Jagdish Ghimire

Dear Friends,


I thank the editor and reporter of the Nepali Times for publishing a report on a small district based and district focused NGO which is not a priority for most media.

Also many thanks for the comments of the readers. Sirs and Madams you have overrated me. I am a humble Ramechhap native who has done a bit of work in home distict. (Because I could not do elsewhere!)


8. jagdish Ghimire

Dear Nepali Times, Thank you for covering a subject that is normally not a priority for media.

And thank you friends for your comment. I /we have done some thing in our home district because we could not do elsewhere. Madams and Sirs, we are not special people, we are humble residents of Ramechhap, with some zeal.

Thank you, J. GhimireÂ

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)