Home-Based Workers: Rising from Ruins

(HomeNet'seffort, Oxfam's support)

Earthquake background:

The April 25, 2015, 7.6 M earthquake with the epicenter at Barpak of Gorkha district and its  aftershocks devastated 14 districts of Nepal claiming as many as 8844 lives,leaving over 22 thousandpeople injured and destroying a total of 595,728 houses. Of the 14 hard hit districts, all the three districts of the Valley were worst affected by the disaster(link file NRP Report:

The preliminary assessment report of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) estimated the need of around US$ 10 billion for the reconstruction.  The National Planning Commission has estimated that the earthquake has pushed around 700,000 additional Nepalis below the poverty line(link file: NPC Report).

Reason behind working in urban context within Kathmandu Valley:

The earthquake caused huge losses to hundreds of thousands of people irrespective of their classes and sectors. However, those who had already been struggling for earning two square meals and were working at their unsafe homes were hitharder. According to a report, 18 of 100 home based workers (HBWs) in earthquake-hit urban areas have lost their regular income sources and the working age group have had their regular income source dropped to 38 percent from 57. Despite working in the cities, even their basic needs weren’t met which has now exacerbated furthermore(link file HNN Report).

As 75 percent of the total Hbws arewomen(link file: HNN Mapping Report, 2004), many of them, inspite of being Saturday, were working on the day the earthquake occurred.It was one of the reasons that the number of women affected by the earthquake was higher in comparison to men. A report shows that 15%of home based workers in the Valley lost their work place and production equipment in earthquake causing heavy loss in their day to day income( Link file: HNN Rapid survey Report).


The informal sector that covers a significant portion of the working poor in urban and semi urban areas as well as the national economy, wasfurther devastated by the earthquake. The direct and indirect means they used at their homes which were also their workplaces were destroyed and were also no longer safe.

In that crisis, HomeNet Nepal and Oxfam in Nepal came up together with a support package to reinstate livelihoods of home based workers highly dense of vulnerable communities having a poor socio-economic condition with a plan to make their means of livelihood more sustainable and safe.

Earthquake impact and Status Quo in working areas:

All the three districts of the Valley are of the 14 districts worst hit by the earthquake in 2015. HomeNet Nepal has been running a Food Security and Livelihood program in the worst-hit  Shankarapur and Kritipur municipalities of Kathmandu and Lalipur metropolitan city in Lalitpur( Status Quo of working area in detail. The needy and eligible population in the working areas of HNN for Food Security and Livelihood Program was very high. Despite being urban, people here do not even have the basic needs fulfilled and as a result lead a life of crisis. 

For instance, there are 54,581 households in Lalitpur Metropolitan City. Of them, only 23,816 owned houses while 29,829 families live in rented houses and make a living through home based works like weaving, statue making, etc. Similarly, 33,378 families have access to pipelines of drinking water. Other families depend on tube wells, rivers and traditional wells etcetera which are not healthy sources.  At least 954 families do still use firewood to cook meals and other 1,867 families use kerosene for the purpose.






Houses Fully Destroyed

Houses Partially Destroyed















Among the deaths, 22 were women














-17 from other districts and 98 were locals of which 79 were women.







Among the deaths, 233 were women; 4317 classrooms were damaged


Livelihood( Link file: Case story sharing by beneficiaries)

Livelihood becoming normal

Elderly father-in-law and mother-in-law were at home. Most of the time was spent while taking their care. We did not have any land for farming and but had a small shelter in an area less than an anna (31.79 square meters) of land which we did not own. My husband professed plumbing and was the only one earning in the house. The earthquake on April 25, 2015 destroyed the shelter and made our difficult lives further miserable.

Meanwhile, I met AnjuMaharjan, social mobilizer of Homenet Nepal, who arrived in our place to support earthquake victims. After some discussions and procedures, the organization provided me a lock machine, a toolbox, scissor, iron machine and an electric motor. I had earlier learnt sewing but due to my poor condition I didn't have necessary things such as machines and other materials to use the skill. By then, we had built a small house taking loan from our relatives andhad to find a way to clear the debt. Then, I started sewing service in my own home using the support from HNN. People started to come to my home for the service. My income increased gradually.

Now I can prepare two sets of clothes a day easily. The income has made it easier to pay for my child’s education and other basic needs and I am happy that I can earn from my home. Now I feel that one's life can change if someone with certain skills is given necessary support and once you are able to stand on your own feet everyone starts to treat you differently; from trust for debt to peer and community relationships.


Dhokasi, Kirtipur municipality-8, Kathmandu


Inception of HomeNet Nepal

Established in 2000 AD and registered as an NGO in 2003, HNN after exercising as an average type of NGO  transformed itself into a Membership Based Organization with special focus on HBWs applying 4 pillar strategy namely; ‘organizing’, ‘capacity building’, ‘advocacy’ and ‘linkage development’. Since then HNN has been regular towards its mission restlessly.

Working Modality:

HNN works closely with local governmentand with concerned authoritiesin direct participation of respective communities and benefiting households. It ensures accountability and transparency at every level right from the planning phase, beneficiaries selection and post operation evaluation as per its Guiding Principle. For FSVL, HNN provides priority to the ultra-poor, women, marginalized and physically disable people living in vulnerable condition.

Major and innovative activities:

HNN in support with Oxfam provides support to avail production equipment and tools, and to set production unit in individual and group basis. It provides training on production, marketing, entrepreneurship development and business management. HNN enables the capacity of its beneficiaries on DRR, Gender, OHS, Social protection, Child Protection, VAW and on other cross cutting issues.  It also links the beneficiaries to the financial institutions for soft loan and credits(Link file: Detail Progress Report)

The Urban Job Hub( UJH) - A reliable center for Informal Employment:

Aiming to expedite the access to informal sector employment for the needy men and women belong to most vulnerable communities and HHs especially from the urban settlement, Urban Job Hub (UJH) a social venture has been recently introduced by HNN which has been supported by Oxfam for its promotion. So far, the UJH which is performing as a reliable platform both for job seekers and employers have provided decent employment to as many as 237 men and women which still needs to deliver thousands of needy youth in future (Link file: Prospect of UJH in detail)

The achievements in a glance

Program                                                                                                                               Beneficiaries (persons)

Directly benefited from group production unit                                                   60

Trainings to enhance capacity of cooperatives                                                    51

Individual recipients of livelihood materials                                                          346

Capacity enhancement trainings                                                                               131

Employed after capacity enhancement                                                                  75

Directly benefited from Home Creations                                                               180

Those who got access to economic and market services                                2227

Registered enterprises                                                                                                  21

Those who registered names in Urban Job Hub                                                 890

Participants in professional health and security training                                  68

Group Production Unit(GPU)

Many HBWslost their workstations after the earthquake. Those whose houses had been partially damaged had been working risking their lives.Hence, a concept of Group Production Unit (GPU) has been introduced with the aim to arrange a productive, safe and suitable work station for the needy home-based workers. Seven such GPUs have been established and run in Shankarapur, Kritipur and Lalitpurwithin the valley and in Dharche in Gorkha benefiting at least 150HBWs directly and another 500 hbws indirectly.


The major category of products being focused by the GPUs are bakery and potato chips, garment, shoes and bamboo. In order to enable the members of the groups in production in accordance to market demand with design, color, quality and quantity, a well-equipped Product Design Studio’ has been setup currently at Dhapakhel of Lalitpur. A committee of designers comprised of 25 major categories has been formed to serve the studio when required. This studio functions upon the demand created by the GPU to bring more innovative designs in the selected products to be sold out from the outlet ‘ Home Creation’ and from other GPUs as community center. In addition, the GPUs have also helped in efficient use of inputs, knowledge exchange among beneficiaries and have acted as a center for wholesale opportunity (Link file: GPU Operation manual). 


Introduced ‘Home Creation’ a brand name of HBWs’ product

Aiming to organize the home based production under a single umbrella and to directly reach local and international market with its own identity,a Brand name called ‘ Home Creation’has been established an outlet of the same has recently been established in Lalitpur nearby Patan Durbar Square. The outlet  is a business center of hbws where they take orders, exhibit their productsand  the kind of response their products create helps them navigate their strategy or further polish their products and to explore market at local and international as well.  By now, of total target of 5000 at  least 1000 selected and eligible  hbws have space to showcasetheir products at their own ( Link file: Prospects of Home Creation)


Directly contributes in Gender Equity:

Of total beneficiaries of both GPU, UJH and other wings of institution, over 80 % have been women who have been benefited. Right from the governing body of HNN to its senior management including every activity, it has principally given priority to women. Apart from that it has been vocally advocating to ensure equal pay to women, set up women-friendly work stations, gender responsive public services guided by Gender Policy of the institution


Perspective of stakeholders

  • As an effort to collect the stakeholders’ opinion on its efforts in support with Oxfam, views were collected and the majority of them was positive and maintained it as crucial guidance to institution. All them found to be very positive though showed their worried about its sustainability.


  • Shiva HariGiri, the principle of BhagBhairab Secondary School in Kritipur Municipality-4 who visits BhagBhirab Bakery, the one and only bakery industry run by women in the municipality says that “The bakery is nice and well-managed”. “All the sisters running the industry have proved that women can also do something in their life if given right opportunity,” he said. They are hardworking and take suggestions positively.


  • Ward chairman of Kritipur Municipality-8 Mr. BinodMaharjan extending his feedbackon a bamboo based group production unit saidthe program is doing well with good coordination with ward offices. . “Even though I am yet to make filed visit of the group production units, I know the details of those units as HomeNet officials regularly consulted with us and updated us about the progress of the program. I am planning to visit the sites soon,” he said. 


  • Seven women in Lalitpur Metropolitan city-24 have established a clothes tailoring center called ‘SahayogSilaiUdhog’ withsupport of HomeNet and Oxfam. Secretary of the ward office Niran Shrestha said that the ward office is trying to help the women find market for their products. “We have sold some of their products on our personal efforts also. We are also exploring how we can help them to sell their products in the market,” he said, adding, this program has been significant in empowering women.


  • Executive Officer of Shankharapur municipality Mr. PramodSimkhadaappreciated HomeNet’s work. “As they came in contact with us, we also provided our support for the construction of the group production unit’s building. I am confident that the unit will increase income of workers remarkably,” he added.


  • ShrijansilShramikMahilaSamuha is an organization having 162 HBWs as member in Shankharapur municipality. It has been making efforts to uplift the livelihood of women workers affected by the earthquakes in Sankhu. Chairperson RajyaLaxmi Shrestha said. “The organization is supporting various home-based industries affected by the quake. All the home-based workers are grateful to the organization for its support,”


  • Tara Giri, a member of Bamboo based GPU situatedat Palubari in Shankarapur municipality, said “My husband is working as a labor in Qatar for the last five years. Since my husband’s income is not enough to support education of our four children and also cover other household expenses, I moved to Palubari to work as a worker in the industry,”. She said she makes five bamboo products in every two days and makes enough money to cover all the household expenses. She gets Rs 350 per product on average


Eight Steps for Future Intervention:

  1. HNN will establish 3 more outlets- section of Home Creation for market access ease in respective GPUs.
  2. HNN has already provided equipment support to the needy HBWss. Further effort will be made for creation of informal job opportunities to other needy and urban poor youths.
  3. It will empower beneficiaries to reach several government and other agency resources for additional investment for production.
  4. HNN will integrate its activities of organizing, capacity building, production, marketing, saving & credit under a single umbrella. 
  5. The Urban Job Hub being promoted by HNN in support with Oxfam now is going to be interlinked with the EmploymentInformation Center (EIC) envisioned to be established in every municipality. For the first phase, UJH will be interlinked with the EIC of few municipalities where HNN is working; namely Kirtipur, Lalitpur, Godavary, Dakshinkali and Sankharapur Municipalities.
  6. For expanding its business, the established GPUs need more running capital. Thus, HNN is planning to develop individual and or group production based capital by brining commercial banks especially Deprived Sector Lending (DSL).
  7. To ensure a greater result, HNN shall collaborate with like-minded organizations especially with FNCSI, FHAN, FMEs etc.
  8. The key concerns of HBWs,like equal wage, occupational safety & health, social protection, child care and maternity benefits will be raised loudly and strongly.