3 challenges to systemic change and how to overcome them

In the eastern most province of the seven provinces of Nepal, Province 1, there are an estimated 100.000 people who live with a disability. Disabled people are cast away from society and are seen as a burden. Karuna Foundation is making systemic change happen in Nepalese government so that vulnerable children and people with disabilities get access to a dignified life.

In collaboration with the local government and communities, Karuna Foundation Nepal has been working to establish a community-based rehabilitation and prevention programme in the past 12 years. In 2019, the government decided to adopt the foundation’s programme in its healthcare system, realising the value it will bring to society.
The program aims to help 540,000 pregnant women, 800,000 children and 100,000 children and adults with a disability and their families, in Province 1 by 2022.

While the adoption of the Karuna Foundation’s project into the healthcare system is a success story, making change happen on a legislative level is hard work and requires overcoming many challenges. Karuna Foundation describes 3 main challenges they face in the journey of systemic change and why overcoming them is crucial.

1. Timing and pace
Making lasting and positive change happen within the governmental context is hard work. It requires energy, momentum and a strong commitment to the cause by the parties involved. It’s crucial to delicately arrange the pace of campaigning and taking action since losing momentum can cause losing valuable time and resources. Putting local communities and the foundation under some healthy pressure to realise goals has been key to Karuna Foundation’s success. Their current scaling strategy is quite ambitious. They plan to introduce their programme into all municipalities in Province 1 before the provincial elections in 2023.  This will make sure that all necessary changes will be made under the current leadership who are all enthusiastic about the foundation's aims.

2. Quantity versus quality
What has made Karuna Foundation’s programme the success story that it is, is the high-quality services they provide to the people of their pilot areas. The success stories that resulted from these high-quality services are the reason local communities took to the programme so enthusiastically. As the foundation scales their operations to the whole region of Province their challenge is to maintain the quality of the services while significantly increasing their quantity. With meticulous monitoring and continuous improvement, Karuna Foundation expects to not only maintain the high quality of its services on a large scale but also exceed it.

3. Risk bearing versus conservative funding
Finding funding for a project that aims for systemic change is challenging. The first phase of the Karuna Foundation’s programme was made possible by a group of funding partners. As the project developed, the budget had to be altered after careful reviews. Due to delays in implementation, all tangible results of the project aren’t visible yet and the second phase of the project is not yet fully funded. In order to overcome these challenges, the Karuna Foundation ensures that funding is well organised and highlights the positive results of the project while keeping the forward momentum alive.

They need your support!
Would you like to be a part of systemic change in Nepal? You can do so by supporting Karuna Foundation so they can reach their goal and fully realise the second phase of their project. Donate below to help protect vulnerable children and people with disabilities.

All images courtesy of Karuna Foundation

More Stories