Development Blog

How the SDGs can guide Nepal’s recovery

25 Apr 2016


By Renaud Meyer, UNDP Nepal Country Director One year ago today, I was playing soccer with my two boys in Kathmandu when at 11:56 the ground started to roll like waves on the ocean. We were struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. By the end of that scary day filled with immediate and strong aftershocks, we started realizing the extent of the damage and feared for the lives lost. After the second earthquake of May 12 and once clear information had been collected from all the affected areas, Nepal had lost 8,880 people. Around 800.000 houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged. Some 3 million people were displaced and thousands of livelihoods were lost. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment pegged the damages and losses at US$7 billion. As we were progressively transitioning from humanitarian to recovery, Nepal suddenly had to address a challenging political and economic six-month period after the promulgation of its long-awaited constitution in September 2015. Disagreements between political parties and parts of the Nepali society over the constitution led to political tensions delaying the passage of the Reconstruction Act and the establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). Further, these tensions led to an economic crisis due to  Read More

Nepal on my Mind – Looking Back and Looking Forward

15 May 2015

image A student demonstrates school newspaper about disaster risk reduction.

I was taking in the weekend in the Maldives, where I am now posted, when I received a text: “Earthquake in Nepal. 7.5 – 7.9 magnitude.” I immediately switched on BBC. A reporter in New Delhi was talking about Nepal’s seismic vulnerability, but not much real-time information was available. I turned to Facebook and Twitter. Colleagues and friends in Nepal started to confirm their safety. Slowly footage of destroyed buildings and world heritage sites started to roll in. Since then, I have been staggered by the scenes of devastation. As a Japanese citizen, I am no stranger to seismic events. As I watched the scenes in Nepal, memories from 20 years ago flooded my mind. I was living in Tokyo, in 1995, when a huge earthquake hit my hometown. I helplessly watched the devastation of Kobe. When the city where you grew up is shattered, and family and friends are affected, trauma and sorrow reach a whole new level. Three days after the Great Tohoku Earthquake in Japan in March 2011, which triggered a Tsunami as well, I arrived in Kathmandu for my assignment with UNDP. While UNDP works in a wide range of areas, disaster risk management has always been  Read More

Poverty climate connection

16 Apr 2015

image Installation of taps and water system has provided multiple benefits to the communities in Jajarkot district. These include, easy access to drinking water, improved sanitation and increase in production of vegetables, among other things. Photos: Avani Dixit/ UNDP Nepal

Climate change exacerbates poverty among the poorest, yet simple adaptation measures seem to make a difference. The interplay between poverty and vulnerability to disasters and climate change is clearly visible in Nepal’s mountainous districts, especially in the country’s far west region. Not surprisingly Nepal ranks high on disaster and climate change vulnerabilities and poverty indexes. People’s vulnerability stems from poverty and lack of social safety nets, and disaster affects poor creating more poverty – there is a vicious cycle. Most of the poor are subsistence farmers with little or no assets. Poor’s assets are localized and inflexible – they cannot be readily exchanged for cash – and a hazard such as flood or landslide can damage their entire assets. Although farming is the main occupation, people are not able to grow enough food for a whole year. Decent agricultural land is scarce, and even the most fundamental services are inaccessible – education, health, water, roads, markets, among other things. The youth go off to the Gulf States and seasonally to Northern India to work as laborers - unskilled youth migration is a major loss to Nepalese economy. Things are further complicated: these highly vulnerable places have seen a decline in crop  Read More

Counting climate spending

11 Sep 2014

Do you know how much your country spends on climate adaptation? Well we know how much Nepal does.  In Fiscal year 2013/14, Nepal spent 10 percent of national budget or about US $ 500 million. Many of you may think: Why does it matter? It does because despite making negligible contribution to the global warming, Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the climate change. According to an Asian Development Bank report entitled "Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia," the effect of climate changes 'can cause losses equal to almost 10 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100.' The country also has very little resource to spare for the costly adaptation process. For that very reason it needs to account for every dollar spent on adaptation. By developing a climate spending code, Nepal is now able to track all public spending for climate adaptation directly or indirectly. This will allow better targeting and efficient use of resources. Does your country keep track of climate spending? How vulnerable is your country to climate change?   Read More

A catalyst for peace

11 Aug 2014


Equipped with leadership skills and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities, more Nepali women are supporting their communities in peacebuilding and conflict resolution Over the past few decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of women’s leadership and the need for their participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and subsequent resolutions paved the way for women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding processes. Nepal developed a National Action Plan (NAP), based on resolutions 1325 and 1820, to enhance augment the participation and leadership of women at all levels of decision-making, conflict transformation and peace processes, including taking measures to address specific needs of women and girls in the design and implementation of all relief and recovery programs, thereby leading to sustainable peace and a just society. However, centralized policymaking often does not reflect the needs and realities of different districts. There seems to be a gap between policy and implementation, especially in the Tarai region. In districts like Parsa, ambiguity still surrounds the role of women members in Local Peace Committees (LPCs). Though, the Government mandated 33 percent women’s representation in LPCs, limitations still exist concerning the extent to which  Read More

Disaster proofing micro-enterprise

26 Jun 2014

image Enterprise Development Facilitators working with entrepreneurs to complete a seasonal calendar of natural hazards

When we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard small businesses from the impacts of disaster Charikot, 21 June 2014 – When a disaster happens we find ourselves measuring its impact in lives. What is often not considered is the toll it has taken on the livelihoods of those that survive, and the resultant significant and widespread human suffering that will ripple through the economy of municipality, a region, or even an entire nation. The Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal estimates, in 2013 alone, that the country suffered NRs. 342,592,782 of direct losses as a result of disaster – approximately 2 percent of total GDP. In developing countries an average of 80 percent of the economy is comprised of small, medium and micro-enterprises. Nepal is no exception. Yet when we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard these small businesses from the impacts of disaster. Disasters are responsible for destroying land, crops, livestock, buildings, equipment, supply chains, and other assets every year, contributing to the impoverishment of many who may lose everything. The impact of disaster in Nepal acts as a detractor from long-term poverty alleviation and  Read More

Affordable Measures

02 Dec 2013

image Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake, one of the lakes potentially dangerous for GLOF. Photo by Deepak KC / UNDP Nepal

GLOF risk reduction effort should focus on innovating affordable community-led measures Shoko Noda The Hindu Kush Himalayan region in Asia is home to over 200 million people. In addition over a billion people downstream depend on the rivers and waterways that are fed by these glaciers. As the impacts of climate change become apparent, glaciers in these mountain ranges appear increasingly vulnerable to changing climactic conditions. Loss of glaciers means loss of critical storehouse of freshwater for future generations. It also means an increase in the glacial related disasters, such as glacial lake outbursts floods (GLOFs). Thousands of glacial lakes have already been formed behind the thinning and unstable ice dams. The sudden collapse of such dams can cause catastrophic floods that destroy lives, forests, property, farms and infrastructure. The devastating power of GLOFs can reach hundreds of kilometers downstream uprooting communities and infrastructure in their wake. Even large scale international assistance may not be adequate to address the enormous scope of the challenge. There are over 20,000 glacial lakes in the Himalayas and in Nepal alone 3 are considered to be in potentially dangerous state, according to a 2009 study by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). As the  Read More

Nepal in the booming South

15 Mar 2013


As development experts would tell you, there is no theory of development as such, but only of underdevelopment. Experts can explain why certain countries have failed to develop, but they can not necessarily prescribe a definitive development path that can lead country X or Y to prosperity. As the rise of the countries in the global South who have adopted different models than that of traditional welfare state in the North shows, there is no one size fits all solution. Each country, including Nepal, has to find its own way. The Global Human Development Report 2013 which was released late yesterday in Mexico endorses this view of multiple development paths and paints a very hopeful picture of the state of global development. It hails the rise of the South and documents key interventions that have allowed the region to grow rapidly. The Report observes that the economic growth of developing countries is influencing global financial architecture by introducing indirect competition and pressuring traditional donors—away from the terms set by ‘Washington consensus’—to pay greater attention to the needs of the developing countries.  “Overall, the rise of the South is infusing new patterns of resource accumulation into the global financial system and building  Read More

Off-grid Prosperity

24 Jan 2013

image Photo credit: The Kathmandu Post

In September last year, I was in Kharbang Bazar, Dagatundada VDC in Baglung—several hours’ drive from the district headquarters on a muddy seasonal road—to witness the transformational changes ushered in by a basic service that many of us may take for granted: access to modern energy.  The catalysing effect of modern energy in the form of a 75 kilowatts (kW) micro hydro plant on the development of this village is self-evident. Noodle and soap factories have flourished; school dropout rates have decreased because kids have time to study at night under the light and, in fact, enrollment in the public school has increased because it provides modern computer education; quality of health services have improved because vaccines can be stored in refrigerators, x-ray and pathological laboratory facilities are now available within the village; and the level of public awareness has risen with the introduction of local community radios and access to computers and the internet. A milk vendor does not have to worry about his unsold milk spoiling any more. He can preserve it in a chilling vat. Women do not need to wake up at four in the morning to mill rice and flour in traditional labour-intensive mills.  Access to  Read More