One of the highly marginalized Gandharb community under Dalit ethnic group in Jarbuta VDC of Surkhet district, requested FIAN Nepal to support them in raising their concerns related to their livelihood and right to food. Gandharb community approximately 30 households residing almost at the bank of Jhupra Khola (Jhupra rivulet) in Surkhet district are utterly depending on the rivulet. The locals stated that they have been collecting sand from Jhupra rivulet since last 15 years for their livelihood. A person collects two to three sacks of sand in a day digging the rivulet and sells in 50 Nepali rupees per sack. Sand digging, which is the main occupation of the villagers has been threatened by the permanent dwellers of the area as the rivulet closer to their land is captured by the land owners. Landless Gandharb community resides at the land which falls under the jurisdictions of community forest. None of the Gandharb family possesses land entitlement certificate. The community is also threatened time and again by the community forest users group and the district forest office (DFO) for force evection. Hundreds of the people will left behind homeless if the force evection is carried out without any alternative arrangement of the decade long settlement.
Obstruction by the local people on the track constructed for tractors to Jhupra Khola rivulet has further jeopardized life and livelihood of the Gandharb community. Three months back the tractors used to go to the rivulet to buy sand from the individuals in the settlement. Now, the community members carry the sand to the market uphill for selling.
Expressing health hazards particularly faced by women; Gandharb women informed that women are suffering from the problem of prolapsed uterus, body pain and other skin related diseases as lower part of their body (below waist)remains in water for long hours while digging sand.
The community is not sure when and at what time they will be force evicted from their settlement. They also express their worry for the post eviction period related to their shelter and food. They requested FIAN Nepal to raise their issue with the concerned authorities to ensure their right to food.
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