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These fact sheets are the product of a collaborative effort among organizations and institutions working in the field of land management. The fact sheets were prepared in collaboration; the author affiliations are: the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) the Sustainable Soil Management Programme (SSMP), the Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM), HELVETAS-Nepal, Sustainable Soil Management Programme (SSMP), International Development Enterprises (IDE-Nepal), Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LIBIRD), Kathmandu University (KU), and supported by the Austrian Development Cooperation. The individual authors are acknowledged on each fact sheet.
Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM)
The Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM) is part of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and is responsible for programmes that help to conserve fragile soil resources in a way that is integrated with watershed management. Nepal`s rugged and geologically unstable steep mountain topography, coupled with intense monsoon rainfall for several months per year, make the country prone to high soil erosion rates. The erosion is further exacerbated by the fact that farmers are increasingly driven to cultivate ever more marginal slopes in order to meet the agricultural demands of a rapidly increasing population. Other physiographic and climatic conditions such as deforestation, overgrazing, and poorly maintained marginal lands conspire to further contribute to the degradation of watersheds. In addition, the socioeconomic conditions that prevail in one of the world`s poorest countries mean that human activities such as improper land use, unscientific cultivation practices, and the construction of development infrastructure without integrating conservation measures continue to add to the problems of soil erosion, which lead to landslides, flooding, and environmental degradation.
The DSCWM approach to integrated watershed management has two main objectives. First, to assist in maintaining a good balance in the ecology by reducing the stress on the environment induced by natural hazards such as floods, landslides, and soil erosion through the conservation and development of important watersheds. Second, to maintain the productivity of the land by helping to reduce soil erosion, and to contribute to development infrastructure by seeing that this goes hand-in-hand with scientific management of watersheds.
DSCWM plans, implements, and monitors soil conservation programmes and activities based on the principles of integrated watershed management. This multidisciplinary approach encompasses aspects of forestry, agriculture, civil engineering, chemistry, and geology. The DSCWM extends its various services on soil conservation and integrated watershed management to 73 of Nepal’s 75 districts through 56 District Soil Conservation Offices (DSCO). From a soil erosion point of view, Dang is one of the very poorest districts in Nepal.
The HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation was established as a private association for technical cooperation in 1955; it is a membership-based Swiss organization having more than 100,000 members and sponsors and is active in 30 countries of Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Its mission is to actively contribute to improving the livelihoods of economically, socially, and politically disadvantaged people within the framework of human rights.
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation concentrates its development interventions on rural and semi-urban areas. It came to Nepal in 1956 as a Swiss-based INGO and operates under an agreement with the Government of Nepal. It implements its work in partnership with more than 170 local NGOs, governmental bodies, and private organizations in more than 60 districts. In Nepal, it operates through about 13 programmes and projects with around 250 staff. Its operating budget for 2011 was approximately $US 18 million; it invested this in five working areas, including: water and rural infrastructure; education and skills development; rural economy; environment and climate; and, governance and peace.
During the more than five decades that HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has worked in Nepal, it has developed practical working approaches and technologies in the field of water and natural resources management. In doing so, it has also always remained mindful of ensuring participation and maximum benefits of disadvantaged communities both in the hills and the plains of Nepal. It implements its projects in close collaboration with local and national governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, hereby promoting long term sustainability. In all its approaches and technologies, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation promotes the use of local resources and whenever possible it mobilizes local human resources for the manpower needed. Over this period, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal has implemented more than thirty, mostly long-term, programmes and projects, financed or co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The Sustainable Soil Management Programme (SSMP) is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Helvetas and Intercooperation in collaboration with participants from the government and civil society. The programme contributes to improved food security and increased income for women and men farmers in the bari-dominated (rainfed) farming system in Nepal`s mid hills. This is achieved by encouraging smallholders and disadvantaged groups to adopt sustainable soil management practices linked with improved production technologies that enable them to seize new agricultural production opportunities. The programme employs a unique combination of both technical changes and social processes and approaches which lead to livelihood improvement in rural areas. It places a special emphasis on disadvantaged groups and decentralized decision making and responsibility, provides capacity building at the local level, and promotes participatory planning, monitoring, and evaluation.
SSMP was launched in 1999 to combat the decline in soil fertility and productivity in the mid-hills of Nepal. In order to do this, SSMP promotes proven, simple, and appropriate soil and farm management technologies and alternative cropping options, such as improved methods of preparing, managing, and applying farmyard manure; the collection of cattle urine for application as a fertilizer and plant tonic, and as a base for the preparation of biopesticides; the combining of the above practices with the inclusion of legumes, fodder, and forage plants into the rotation; and the incorporation of vegetables and other cash crops into the cropping systems.
SSMP works through local NGOs who compete for programme funds, and contracts are awarded on the basis of technical quality, gender and caste inclusion, and poverty and geographical remoteness of the target communities. SSMP also works through the system of experienced lead farmers that it has established to support the farmer-to-farmer approach of decentralized extension, a key vehicle for further dissemination to isolated communities who have little access to the government extension structures, and which is responsive to the needs of the farmers.
International Development Enterprises (IDE) Nepal is a country programme of IDE International based in Denver, Colorado, USA. Since 1992, its mission has been to enable poor rural households in Nepal to participate effectively in agriculture market systems and to progress from subsistence to commercial farming. IDE helps smallholder farmers to harness their comparative advantages by facilitating market access, building profitable enterprises to market agricultural inputs, and providing embedded services. IDE links agricultural productivity to food security and improved nutrition by helping farm households to increase their income and make better choices. It currently implements programmes in 31 districts all over Nepal.
IDE aims to reduce poverty by involving poor rural households in income generation activities, enabled by the introduction of appropriate water technologies and the development of integrated agricultural markets.
Over the last 20 years, IDE has taken a leading role in the micro-irrigation revolution by developing and refining appropriate micro-irrigation technologies including drip systems, efficient micro sprinklers, treadle pumps, and water storage and distribution technologies. IDE Nepal has also established smallholder commercial pockets in public private partnership. The approach includes developing community-managed collection centres that enable market access. Collection centres are managed by marketing and planning committees elected from members, and entrepreneurs are selected to run the collection centres. These centres aggregate produce and provide key services such as linking with government, other projects, and the private sector to advocate for local development; explaining market concepts to rural populations, including the reasons for price differences between distant markets and meeting market requirements; and developing cropping plans with local traders to take advantage of off-season high-value opportunities, and accessing crop-appropriate inputs, credit, and extension services for member farmers.
IDE also works closely with Nepal government agencies in public private partnerships. IDE builds government capacity to implement the value-chain approach and to create an enabling environment by providing agricultural extension, research, market information, and infrastructure.
Kathmandu University (KU) is an autonomous, not-for-profit, non-governmental institution dedicated to maintaining high standards of academic excellence in Nepal. It is committed to developing leaders in professional areas through quality education. Its vision is to become a world-class university devoted to bringing knowledge and technology to the service of mankind. Its mission is to provide quality education for leadership. The aims of the long-term strategy for its development are to achieve excellence in teaching; to provide strong support for its professional courses; and to strengthen research activities in the fields of environment, energy, medicinal plants, and information technology.
KU is committed to the overall development of the student as an investment to improving the quality of life for everyone in the nation. In general, it aims to accomplish this by promoting the all-round development of the student; and by developing awareness within its students about the role of science and its application in understanding the problems of contemporary society. It would like to become a source for extending and disseminating knowledge and fostering its application; and it would like to create a knowledge industry by accessing the sources of knowledge at the global level, processing them, and providing access. KU aspires to create a community of scholars, students, and staff in which understanding and wisdom can grow and flourish.
KU aims to become a research-cum-teaching university in science, management, engineering, medical sciences, arts, and education. Within the first 15 years after it was founded, KU has assembled a reasonable infrastructure and has established a good track record of academic excellence. At present, the university offers various undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programmes through its Schools of Science, Management, Engineering, Medical Sciences, Education, and Arts. A total of 3369 students study in its constituent campuses, and 4897 students in its affiliated colleges. KU strives to comprehensively enhance its own educational standards by motivating both staff and students. In recent times, KU has also successfully collaborated with more than fifty universities and international institutions of higher learning for faculty and students exchange programmes, credit transfers, joint research work, and exchange of information. KU is launching itself in the world community of learning.
Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that started operating in Nepal in 1995. It is committed to capitalizing on local initiatives for the sustainable management of renewable natural resources and to improving the livelihoods of resource-poor and marginalized people.
Over the past eighteen years, LI-BIRD has worked in partnership for development-oriented research in agriculture and natural resources management. It has contributed to the development of several innovative methodologies and approaches for participatory research and development, and has generated impacts that have enhanced the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers by helping to introduce appropriate technological and policy changes. LI-BIRD has been a pioneer in strengthening methodologies which use participatory plant breeding and participatory variety selection for crop improvement and community-based biodiversity management. Moreover, it has played an instrumental role in institutionalizing these approaches at the national level in Nepal.
LI-BIRD has been recognised both nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence for its contribution in shaping national policy, and for developing and promoting good practices for in-situ on-farm conservation of agricultural biodiversity. Because it strives to take an impact-oriented approach and to always maintain professional accountability, it has become the partner of choice for farming communities and organizations engaged in research and development in agriculture and natural resource management.
Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) supports countries in Africa, Asia and Central America as well as in South Eastern and Eastern Europe in their sustainable social, economic and democratic development. The Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (FMEIA) plans ADC strategies. Austrian Development Cooperation aims at reducing poverty, conserving natural resources and promoting peace and human security in partner countries. Long-term programmes and projects support help towards self-help. The ultimate goal is to bring about a sustainable improvement in conditions of life.
The origins of Austria’s official development assistance go back to private contacts and development aid activities in the 1960s. In addition to its commitments in Africa, Asia and Central America, since the 1990s Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) has also supported countries in South-Eastern Europe on their way to joining the European Union. Million people benefit from ADC worldwide. The legal framework for ADC is the Federal Development Cooperation Act adopted in 2002 and amended in 2003. It contains a specific list of goals that stipulates development-policy criteria for the whole federal administration. The key points are the reduction of global poverty, safeguarding peace and human security and preserving the environment. It also sets out the basic principles governing programmes and projects: the right of partner countries to choose their own way of development, respect for cultural diversity, gender equality and consideration for the needs of children and persons with disabilities.
These fact sheets are intended to provide a package of practices that they can refer to and share in appropriate situations. The sheets will also be useful for academics, research students, and all those concerned with SLM and rural development. The fact sheets are designed to support the efforts of rural development, especially in Nepal, and provide impetus and ideas for decision makers, development actors, and land users.
Users are encouraged to print out, copy, and distribute the information in any form that facilitates sharing with farmers and others and with other potential collaborators. All new contributions to the database and fact sheets are welcome. Please contact us and join the HIMCAT/NEPCAT initiative.
For details contact: Madhav Dhakal, HIMCAT coordinator, ICIMOD