|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Project will support the implementation of the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR) which has recently been developed by the Government of Nepal in partnership with Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank and was endorsed by the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience sub-committee of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) on 28 June 2011. Within the overall framework of the SPCR, the Project will enable communities in mountainous ecosystems that are significantly vulnerable to climate change impacts to have improved access to and reliability of watershed and water resources.
Nepal is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. To achieve the country's overriding goal of reducing poverty, Nepal will need to manage its substantial climate risks and chart a climate resilient growth path. Moreover, as a mountainous country belonging to the Himalaya region, also known as the 'third pole' or the 'water tower of Asia', Nepal faces unique challenges. Temperatures are rising fastest at the highest altitudes, affecting glaciers, snow and ice, and threatening the generally poor and isolated communities that depend upon them. Retreating glaciers and changes in seasonal snow fall and melt will lead to greater uncertainty about water discharge patterns and, in the long run, diminished water availability. This results either in floods that destroy agricultural crops, displace people, kill livestock, and cause sediment deposits on agricultural lands, or in droughts that also destroy crops and affect livestock, and result in insufficient water for drinking and sanitation. In both cases, women's vulnerability increases more than men's as their traditional roles of fetching water, firewood and fodder, and working on agricultural lands will be severely affected with floods and droughts. Furthermore, the coping and adaptive capacities of communities to climate change depends on their knowledge and awareness of climate change risks and appropriate mechanisms to address these risks, and their access to and control over resources, which, oftentimes, the disadvantaged groups do not have.
In recent years the Government has given a much stronger emphasis to issues related to the environment and now to climate resilience as well. The Government prepared the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA, 2010) through a broad-based consultative process. The NAPA includes 43 adaptation options that have been clustered into 9 priority profiles, several of which call for interventions in watershed management, soil and water conservation, scaling up multiple-use water systems, enhanced water storage, and ecosystem management.
Nepal has some experience in integrated water, forest and agriculture management. The Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM) under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MOFSC) is the lead government institution for watershed management, and its field offices implement small projects to protect and improve water resources and their catchment areas. Water management in Nepal has traditionally been according to administrative rather than geographical boundaries, and Nepal is preparing an Integrated Water Resources Management Policy. DSCWM recognizes that an understanding of the link between the hydrologic cycle and land management at the watershed scale is necessary for effective water resources management, and is keen to boost its capacity in this regard. The 3-year interim development plan (2011-2013) calls for a watershed-based approach.