bySaurav Sainju via web
Domestic or internal tourism can bring various changes in country. Nepal is rich in natural and cultural heritage where more than 81.76% (as per World Bank report published on 2014) people live in rural areas. Villages in Nepal have separate identities of its own depending upon its geographical locations and cultures it inherits from centuries. These cultures and believes have gradually became the modern day norms and values of societies with an identification remark of its own. Availability of these villages itself is a source of resources attracting tourists both domestic and international. Harnessing these resources through promoting internal and foreign tourism have become intriguing backed by income generating source. More people are interested to develop tourism in the locality transforming overall socio-economic and cultural change. Examples of developing internal tourism can be linked with places like Sirubari, Ghalegaon, Bandipur, Ghandruk to name a few, in the last few years, that have proved we can go forward enhancing tourism using local products and skills thereby uplifting living standard of people belonging there.
Kohalpur Municipality, one of the rapidly developing municipalities is the entrance for Midwestern and far western development region. With the majority of Tharu ethnicity, this place is rich in terms of cultural, social, religion and natural diversity. Considering the possibility of making Kohalpur a tourist attracting destination Kohalpur Ecological Park was declared on August 1, 2015in the presence of dignitaries - the then Executive Officer of Kohalpur Municipality, Banke Rastriya Nikunja Chief Warden; in Khadkwar Community forest area located inward 13.
The park covers a total of 36 hectares land. It will also include other attractions like fish pond, view point (tower made up of local resources), water fountain, elephant ride, and cottages which will be additional beauty in the park along with its rich natural elements/ resources. Furthermore, medicinal herbs will be cultivated and sold at profit and plantation of trees generating cash will be planted that directly contribute in the income of the park. For the comfort of the guest wanting to stay overnight and enjoy the fresh air and the surrounding environment keeping oneself at ease despite being so near to the city’s hassle committee involved have planned to start home stay services in the nearby communities which is believed to uplift the economic standard of locals through additional employment opportunity and income generating source. Hence, the park has its own significance in the society and believed to positively contribute in the development of Kohalpur Municipality as one of the touristic destination.
‘Khadkwar – a small community with a total of 107 households seems to elegantly fit in the location within ward no. 13 of Kohalpur Municipality. Basic facilities like latrines and water points are common in this area of municipality and presence of ecological park will additionally contribute towards its economic development. Slowly yet progressively the society is forwarding its identity through an appreciable effort; “ Kohalpur Namuna Jaibik Park”. The community lies 5 km north from the Nibuwa chowk Highway. This community has achieved its ODF target in March 12, 2013.
Lumanti Support Group for Shelter has a good relation with the locals and park construction users committee since 2012. In near future, the road of Khadkwar is supposed to be a link road between Kohalpur, Banke to Ghuiyabari ,Salyan. Since, the park is beautiful in itself additional involvement of activities to convert it into ecological park is believed to attract many people.
In view to support the daily operation of park, Lumanti Support Group for Shelter has financially assisted for the construction of public latrine with bio gas plant. People can now spent quality time around their family and the public latrine will also minimize the chances of open defecation by visitors. Furthermore, the public toilet will influence locals to use their household latrines and to use it just incase of any problem in maintaining their latrines thereby positively rendering message to end open defecation in any scenario. Lumanti believes in the theme the park holds, that is, eco friendly and organic. To show its’ commitment design of toilet is instructed to be in such a way that it carries natural look. Local resources like bamboo and woods will be used on the roof and wall of the toilet.
The toilet construction has begun from 8th June 2016 and till date about 50% of the work has been completed. The toilet will be gender friendly, child friendly, and friendly for differently able people on top of it being eco friendly. For the toilet construction Lumanti has provided financial support of Rs. 150,000. Other cost will be utilized from the Municipality’s fund allocated for the park. Cost associated with labor are contributed by the locals themselves through labor contribution. Operational cost and daily maintenance of the toilet will be carried by committee members and fund generated from park visitors. The committee will be responsible and active in maintaining the park fully functional with additional support from hired individuals. Employment will be generated upon functioning of the project. “Along with time, people have slowly started to change their thinking approach. They are now concerned towards nature. They want to spend some of their leisure time in the nature leaving all the artificial environment behind. For this, Kohalpur Ecological park will be an ideal place to fulfill their wish with its full natural beauty. One of the main thing that people need is the proper toilet facility. Without the toilet people will hardly spend their few hours there but what we want is to attract more and more people in our park. Hence, Lumanti has done great job by supporting us in constructing the public toilet, which I think can be considered as a milestone for the existence of park and number of hours spent by visitors. We are not money minded but we want our place to be recognized and this park and latrine will give us the identity that we look for.” Says Mr. Lal Bahadur Rana, President of the park construction users committee.
“We are grateful towards the financial support but along with this the continuous technical support and time to time motivational feedback for the ideal completion of the public toilet, we Khadkawar community people are very lucky to have Lumanti to look for us” says Mr.Janak Bahadur Pun one of the members of Park Construction Committee. One of the unique feature of the so made public toilet will be a biogas plant of 6 ghana meter. The slurry will be used as organic fertilizer and the gas produced will be used as fuel and sold to the visitors as well as lighting some areas. “We are very excited for further development of the park and hopeful it will bring a better future for the whole community” says Mr. Bhim Bahadur Dangi- Secretary of construction users committee of the park. The park is cared and managed by the whole community people with timely monitoring and feedback from the concerned stakeholders. “This park and latrine constructed is like a boon for us by the Nature and by Lumanti, it’s our duty to protect it well. We will be responsible for the proper management of toilet that Lumanti has supported us and we will never let them down.” he adds. “The estimated cost for the biogas plant will be managed with the planning of 75% subsidy by Baikalpik Urja (Alternative Energy Department of government for the region) and 25% from the community contribution. But the decision has not yet not been made till date but hopes are set for positive result.” says Mr. Lal Bahadur Rana , President of the park construction users committee.
It is a matter of great achievement that small effort can be the step for people’s bright future. The support provided by Lumanti has assisted community to some extent in holding their strong desire of community upliftment in various aspects of development. Furthermore, Lumanti’s effort has contributed in the conservation of natural environment by supporting the existence of the organic park and improvement of the environmental sanitation.