Local governments go green in Nepal

Nepal is a country of astonishing natural beauty and cultural diversity. Its natural resources — forest, rivers, mineral resources and fertile soils — are the lifeline of 90 percent of Nepal's population and account for over 40 percent of the country's GDP. For decades, the isolation of Nepal has helped to maintain the pristine nature of this environment.

However, over the last few decades, Nepal's natural capital has been degrading rapidly. Soil erosion, the loss of biodiversity, shortage of water and changing weather are affecting food production, income and the environmental security of Nepal's growing population.

This environmental degradation is especially affecting the poor.

Highlights

  • With natural resources that provide a livelihood for the majority of its population, Nepal is particularly vulnerable to environmental degradation.
  • Local governments in Nepal, with the help of the Poverty Environment Initiative, are promoting green development and sustainable agricultural practices.
  • PEI supports the government of Nepal to conduct training for local government planning officials to design energy-efficient, sustainable infrastructure.

“Water is decreasing because of deforestation above the water source,” one woman explains. “We are having big difficulties to farm now that the water source is depleting. And we are suffering collecting drinking water.”

These challenges have pushed local governments to encourage more sustainable development. Thanks to a financial scheme that provides bigger budgets to local administrations excelling in sustainability — and thanks to the media's work to promote a greener development path — a number of local governments have launched multiple pioneering initiatives.

Dhading District Development Committee and Rupandei District Development Committee are part of the local governments that have increased funds allocated to green development, subsidizing bio-gas and solar panel installations, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

The Poverty-Environment Initiative, a joint program of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) works with Nepal’s National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development to support the greening efforts of Dhading and Rupandei districts.

PEI works to ensure that both Environmental Impact Assessments and Initial Environmental Examinations are conducted during projects like road construction or the extraction of sand, gravel and stones. This ensures that activities do not harm key ecosystems and that they employ local labor.

Moreover, PEI supports government of Nepal to conduct training for local government planning officials. The aim is to design sustainable infrastructure, climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions, energy efficient solutions and organic farming.

Pramila Dallakoti, 27, is a social mobilizer of Jogimara Village committee of Dhadding district. She works to ensure that communities adopt new technologies and practices such as bioengineering, energy-efficient cooking stoves, bio-gas or sustainable road construction methods and understand their benefits.

“We work with communities to promote this kind of integrated farming,” Dallakoti says. “This organic plantation is both good for health and reducing the risk of landslides downhill, where the town is. It gave locals livelihood opportunities and employment.”

The work of the Nepalese local governments to achieve a more sustainable development path is already having a great impact on rural people’s livelihoods.

For Arjun Kumari Mala, starting to use bio-gas and organic farming changed her life and the lives of her five children.

“Bio-gas, as well as improved cooking stoves, helped us reducing firewood consumption,” she says. “Now we are safe from smoke and dust and from contracting respiratory diseases like bronchitis or pneumonia.”