Nepal has made significant steps toward reducing its overall poverty rate. However, many people, especially those living in the hill and mountain regions, continue to struggle with food insecurity and poor nutrition and the agricultural sector in these areas faces considerable challenges including limited irrigation, increasingly extreme and erratic weather events, and insufficient access to quality inputs and services. Poverty remains deep-rooted in these remote areas where agricultural production is stagnating and few alternative livelihood opportunities exist.
Agriculture employs 78 percent of the economically active population in Nepal, with 66 percent of the population directly involved in farming, and contributes 34 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. Poor nutritional and sanitation practices undermine health status and productivity, while limited public investment in infrastructure, drinking water supply, and public services constrain sustainable development.
Given the obstacles, there is are opportunities to support sustainable growth for Nepal’s transition into a more food secure country.
The livelihoods component of RVWRMP-III follows the same overall project approach by working directly with the Rural Municipalities to plan and implement project activities. The Rural Municipalities plan their activities within the overall framework of RVWRMP.
Livelihood activities are planned and implemented through the bottom-up planning process of the Livelihood Implementation Plans (LIP), which are now completed for 27 project core-Rural Municipalities.
RVWRMP implements a three-pronged approach to improve livelihoods in the project area:
Improve household nutrition by promoting diversified home gardens and conduct nutrition related trainings.
Support commercial agriculture and small agri-businesses (SMEs) for to increase incomes.
Develop and support private and public service providers on community level to sustainably improve the living conditions of all beneficiaries.
RVWRMP facilitates in market linkages, using a Buyers Led Approach (BLA) by engaging local middle-men and the regional wholesale market in Attariya (Kailali).
Livelihoods related infrastructure such as collection centers, market structures, post-harvest related infrastructure and irrigation schemes are planned during the LIP process.
Strengthening of Service Providers and Service Provision, either private, public or embedded is carried out through GON institutes, Agro-input suppliers, cooperatives, and Local Service Providers through regular trainings such as financial and business literacy, agro-vet trainings, technical trainings for GON staff and tailored trainings where needed.
RVWRMP provides small matching grants (100,000 – 500,000 NPR) to small agro-related businesses and CBOs to increase private sector investment.
The main overall result to be achieved under livelihoods improvement is:
Improved and sustainable nutrition, food security and sustainable income at community level through water resources based livelihoods development
Home Gardens and Nutrition
Home gardens are the main source for nutritious foods for the households in the form of fresh vegetables, fruits and spices and animal feed for small livestock. Our Project staff trains so called “Home Garden Management” groups, consisting of mainly women, in a range of topics including the use of low-cost technologies such as the application of human and cow urine for crop fertilization and techniques for improving the soil quality by using quality organic matter. These groups meet regularly to discuss any problems they may encounter, new technologies and plans for the future. These HGM groups are led by two Leader Farmers each, who are selected by the beneficiaries and trained separately by the Project to act as intermediates between project and beneficiaries and as service providers (farmer-to-farmer extension).
As part of improving the nutritional situation, RVWRMP organizes so called “Thali” or plate demonstrations during home-garden management and sanitation and hygiene trainings.
These demonstrations are specifically targeted to young women and mothers and teaches them the importance of a balanced diet as well as showing them different recipes to prepare meals using nutritious foods sourced from their own home-gardens.
The project will directly support 275,000 beneficiaries with home gardens and nutrition activities in phase III.
Income generation through commercial agriculture and enterprises development
The project supports income generating activities both on-farm as commercial agriculture farms and off farm as micro-enterprises.
As part of raising incomes of rural farmers, RVWRMP promotes the production of off-season vegetables under plastic tunnels or larger plastic houses. These so-called “poly-houses” prove to be very successful with farmers increasing both their income and household consumption of vegetables. With the Project providing technical trainings and follow-up on issues such as soil nutrition, pest- and disease management and post-harvest issues, this practice is spreading fast to all project areas, especially if there is a good linkage with local or regional markets.
Furthermore, together with the Rural Municipalities, the project has identified communities with high potential for cash crop production, specifically if excess water is used for irrigation, water mills or hydro power; and the community has better market and credit access. In these cases the village is targeted for such advanced-level livelihood support. Some of the value chains that RVWRMP is supporting are ginger, large cardamom, seabuckthorn, oranges, honey and butter tree (chiuri).
A matching grant facility is being piloted in one of the project Rural Municipalities. Small agriculture related businesses and cooperatives can apply for small grants for investment purposes. This opportunity will be scaled up in next FY to all 10 districts.
In phase III of RVWRMP, a total of 12,000 families will be trained in income generating activities, including support and establishment of micro-enterprises.
RVWRMP has realized that lack of irrigation is one of the most important factors that constrains the full potential of the agriculture sector in the project area.
Potential areas for irrigation support are identified through the WUMP planning process and implemented by the User Committees, similar as with drinking water schemes.
Most of these irrigation schemes are conventional canal irrigation schemes, either newly constructed or rehabilitated.
A special type of scheme are the so called Multiple-Use Water Systems (MUS) which can meet both domestic and agricultural needs for water.
The project strives to target 10% of all drinking water related schemes as MUS.
In total an estimated 50,000 people will benefit from increased irrigation possibilities during phase III of the project through both conventional irrigation and construction of MUS schemes.
Most of the advanced-level livelihood activities related to water supply, renewable energy and commercial farming are supported with cooperative development. These activities include micro-hydro end-use promotion and value chain development, contract-farming arrangements between producer groups and the Cooperatives as well as developing support services for value chain development (such as agro-vet and financial services).
Cooperatives also serve as an important microfinance center, providing mostly smaller loans for agriculture, micro-business development and emergency household expenses. The project also strives to link all User Committees to Cooperatives to assure a better sustainability of the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funds.
In phase III of RVWRMP, a total of 50 cooperatives will be supported, targeting an estimated 25,000 shareholders.
Rural Advisory Services
The third main focus of the livelihood component is the establishment and support of private and public services on community level. This may include technical, business related and financial services.
Under Rural Advisory Services (RAS), the project targets all its activities to improve the service delivery for the target population in the project areas and Rural Municipalities.
RVWRMP supports RAS through a number of interventions:
Promote embedded services such as through Agro-Vets
Train agriculture staff of the Rural Municipalities to better able to provide services
Strengthen Cooperatives to provide financial and business skills services
Support farmer-to-farmer extension services by training and strengthening Farmer Groups
Train Local Service Providers and Local Resource Persons and encourage Rural Municipalities to employ such LSPs and LRPs