During a monsoon in 1986, Chandralal Nepal’s house in Semjong, Tsirang, got buried under a landslide. The five family members escaped through the roof that remained uncovered under the muck.

Eight houses in the village were washed away that night, killing two people.

Since then, Tashiling village, suffered from landslides every year.

However, a group of 18 villagers took the initiative to combat landslide and erosion in 2013 by planting broom grass in their surrounding and vulnerable area below the village.

That made a difference in controlling landslides and erosion.

Today, all the 25 households of the village grow broom grass in areas more than 50 decimal land. While the grass controls slide, it has other uses.

A villager, who grows the maximum broom grass is Dil Bahadur Raika, 65. He has planted in it in about 1.5acre land. The grass has been growing in his land for over 15 years now.

He said that while he harvests and sells brooms worth Nu 2,000 to 5,000 in a year, he uses the grass as cattle feed. He also uses the matured stem as support to vegetables such as beans and peas. “It occupies land permanently but serves a great purpose,” he said.

Coinciding with the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, the Tsirang forest division planted at least 10,000 saplings of broom grass in the community forest.

The project ‘Sustainable cultivation of broom grass and promotion of agro-biodiversity’ was done with fund support from UNDP’s GEF-small grants programme.

The chairman of the Tashiling forest committee, Purna Bahadur Bista, said that the broom grass today covers more than seven-acre of the community forest. “Planting broom grass here will protect houses above or adjacent houses from landslides.”

Meanwhile, Tsirang division’s chief forestry officer, Dimple Thapa said although there are a lot of other areas where landslide and erosion is a problem, the project is supporting to strengthen what public has already started.

“They lacked fund to expand their plantation so we’re supporting them,” she said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang