Environmental degradation, the loss of biodiversity, climate change and natural disasters seriously threaten the livelihoods of Nepal’s rural poor. UNDP’s support is helping to mitigate and reduce the impact of these threats and provide the rural poor with clean renewable energy and environment friendly livelihoods. A key part of UNDP’s support across these areas is promoting pro-poor environmental management, risk reduction, and climate change adaptation at the national and local levels.
Access to energy in Nepal remains a critical barrier to long-term development. Today, 24 percent of Nepali households do not have access to electricity.
The Renewable energy for Rural Livelihoods (RERL) project has benefited an estimated 286,300 people by increasing access to improved energy since start of the programme as Rural Energy Development Programme (REDP) programme in 1996. It has powered rural and off-grid communities to operate micro-enterprises, improved health services and contributed to better education for children.
The RERL programme is a transition programme before the full-fledged GEF UNDP funded RERL programme is finalized and brought into implementation in 2014 for next 5 years. The full-fledged programme plans to link with the Government of Nepal’s harmonized National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme, which started from mid-2012.
About 24 percent of Nepal’s total population still remained deprived of modern form of energy. Population without access to electricity in rural area is 30 times more than that of urban area.
Nepal is considered highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Given its mountainous terrain, ecosystem based adaptations, complemented by efficient use of resources is essential to help the country manage risks. UNDP is implementing a global pilot project to promote adaptation in three countries – Nepal, Peru and Uganda – to help these countries better prepare for the effects of climate change.
The project on Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) began work in Nepal in 2013. The project focuses its interventions in the Panchase area that spans parts of Kaski, Parbat and Syangja districts.
The project has contributed towards enhancing the climate resilience of ecosystem services. Nepal’s national economy and people’s livelihoods largely depend on natural resources and ecosystems services. These are increasingly negatively influenced by the effects of climate change, including increased variability on water availability, extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Drought, flood, glacial lake outburst floods, avalanches, landslides and forest fires are some climate related disasters that Nepal experiences. The Government of Nepal’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and other national strategies and action plans have recognized that immediate actions are needed to minimize climate risks to society, economy and ecosystems. In order to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change, UNDP and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) are working together to support vulnerable communities in mid and far western regions of Nepal through the Nepal Climate Change Support Programme (NCCSP). The ultimate objective of the programme is to enhance the capacity of government and non-government institutions to implement Nepal's Climate Change Policy (2011) and execute the most urgent and immediate adaptation actions to increase the resilience of climate vulnerable and poor people.
NCCSP will support the Government in implementing Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) in 69 VDCs and one municipality of the 14 most climate vulnerable districts of Nepal. The fourteen districts are Achham, Bajura and Kailali in the far-western region, and Bardiya, Dolpa, Humla, Jumla, Mugu, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Kalikot, Dang, Rolpa and Rukum in the mid-western region. This will cater to 169,000 climate vulnerable people and create employment for approximately 21,000 people.
Through Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP)Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP) UNDP has been supporting the Government of Nepal in its efforts to reduce the risks of glacial lake outburst floods.
Draining of the excess water from Imja lake by at least three meters began in 2016. The lake, located at an altitude of 5010 meters in Solukhumbu district, is among six glacial lakes at most immediate risk of bursting.
Nearly 100,000 people living up to 120 kilometers downstream of the lake could be affected directly or indirectly if Imja Lake bursts its banks.
UNDP has also begun working to reduce human and material losses from recurrent flooding in four flood-prone districts in the Tarai: Mahottari, Siraha, Saptari and Udaypur. This is being done through implementation of Early Warning System, awareness raising among local communities and support to local level Government institutions.
The National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management, supported by UNDP introduces risk reduction as a crosscutting approach to development planning and programming. UNDP through its Disaster Risk Reduction in Nepal (DRRN) project supported the Ministry of Home Affairs to establish a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOCs) to effectively direct and coordinate the response to man-made and natural disasters. The advocacy and policy work has led to 14 agencies of ministries, departments, municipalities and the security agencies establishing disaster risk reduction focal desks at their own initiative.
The Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Programme (CDRMP) was launched in February 2011 to continue the work of DRRN and Earthquake Risk Recovery Programme (ERRP). It focuses on policy and institutional strengthening in line with the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management. The new project has supported the establishment of 11 District Emergency Operations Centres to better coordinate and help integrate disaster risk reduction into planning mechanisms. EOCs in the district proved very useful in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in April 2015. They played a vital role of relaying information of casualties and losses to the centre.
UNDP-Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (UNDP-GEF/SGP) supports the local NGOs and the CBOs to implement community owned environmental projects; by which the local communities make efficient use of natural resources and energy services to support their livelihood. These projects, while supporting biodiversity conservation livelihood enhancement at the local level, also contribute to mitigate impacts of global climate change.
Nepal is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. A major focus of UNDP’s support is therefore on reducing the risks from disasters, both at the policy and local community levels.
Since its inception in Nepal in 1996, the Nepal Small Grants Programme (SGP) has funded 201 local initiatives for environmental conservation. This number includes 66 biodiversity conservation projects, 56 climate change mitigation projects, 40 projects to reverse land degradation, 15 capacity building and awareness raising projects, 10 international waters projects and 3 projects to phase out chemicals. SGP is also implementing 7 Community Development and Knowledge Management for Satoyama Initiatives (COMDEKS) project for nature conservation at landscape level and 4 Every Drop Matters project for water conservation. These projects have all involved local communities in conserving their local natural resources in ways that enhance human well being and livelihoods and deliver global environmental benefits.