It was a warm afternoon in Dhangadhi in mid-June as Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary was preparing for the day ahead. Today, a special invitation had come Dhan’s way.
The invitation had come in from the Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City. And it was for something that, at first, seemed quite unorthodox. A firefighting training.
Reflecting on how they felt when they received the invitation, Dhan excitedly exclaims, “I thought this is the first-time I have received an invitation to something like this and was very happy!”
Pramila Rana, another trainee, echoes Dhan’s sentiments: “I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited to a firefighting training. Most of the trainings that we, as members of the LGBTIQ+ community, receive are to do with either livelihood or safe sexual practices. So, the opportunity to participate in such a training was novel.”
The firefighting training was targeted specifically for the gender and sexual minorities as they often live in rented spaces with shared kitchen facilities. To equip them to be able to safely handle fire in the early stage, Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City organized a household firefighting training, targeting kitchen fires, for 24 participants who identify as gender and sexual minorities. The Sub-Metropolitan City, in collaboration with the European Union Humanitarian Aid funded Strengthening Urban Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness and Response in Western Regions of Nepal Project (SUPER) organized this training specifically for people who identify as a gender and sexual minority.
Dhan elaborates, “Most of the people in our community are migrants from all over Sudurpaschim Province, and even from Karnali and Lumbini Provinces. Most of us live in rented areas together as it is not very easy for us to find accommodation. Most of us have beds and kitchen space in the same room which definitely increases our risk to fires. And this training, I think, helps mitigate the probable risk of kitchen-based fire by equipping us with the necessary skills.”
At the event, the Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Person, Mr. Lekhnath Ojha remarked, “Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City is committed to being inclusive. We hope that this training can impart some learning in each of you, which you can then impart on to others or use in case there is a need. We hope this will not only better equip you to fight fires, but also to fight the societal stigma that you often face.” And indeed, Dhan, Pramila and the other participants take one step ahead in fighting fires and fighting stigma.
SUPER, under the EU Humanitarian Aid’s generous financial support, is being implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women. The project seeks to enhance municipal and provincial preparedness for impending urban and earthquake risks for effective disaster response in select places in the western regions of Nepal. It operates at the provincial level in Lumbini Province, Karnali Province and Sudurpaschim Province; and at the municipal level in Nepalgunj Sub Metropolitan City, Dhangadhi Sub Metropolitan City, Amargadhi Municipality and Jay Prithvi Municipality.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women