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Payment for ecosystem services for drinking water schemes in Dhankuta, Koshi Hills, is becoming a reality

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After a yearlong effort through an action research by ICIMOD’s Koshi Basin Programme (KBP) and its partner Green Governance of Nepal (GGN) to identify the role of upstream watershed areas in maintaining the quantity and quality of water flow downstream, a ‘letter of intent’ was signed recently in Dhankuta Municipality of eastern Nepal.

The letter is a significant agreement that gives high value recognition to work towards strengthening the upstream-downstream linkage through research on water systems and siltation patterns in upstream watershed areas, consultations with communities about water demand and water economic value, negotiating payment amount and facilitate an institutional arrangement of payment of freshwater ecosystem services (also known as PES).

The signing of the letter of intent was considered a significant step, which the local communities both from the upstream watershed villagers Nibuwa and Tankhuwa and downstream Dhankuta town residents as well as the government agencies had been highly anticipating.

The letter was presented during a one-day stakeholders’ workshop on 8 June 2016 in Dhankuta by the municipal authority in presence of over 50 including 7 female representatives from various government line agencies and community leaders from the watershed community.

During the event, the municipal authority expressed its commitment to pay for the upstream ecosystem water services to the upstream watershed communities while different line agencies committed to streamline their conservation and development activities in the upstream watershed.

Local Development Officer Ganesh Prashad Dahal highlighted the need of PES and investment in conserving upstream ecosystem. He hoped that the local level implementation of PES in Dhankuta would be a source of knowledge and learning for national level PES implementation.

Tirtha Prashad Dhital, chief executive officer of Dhankuta municipality acknowledged the research support from ICIMOD and committed to utilize the research findings to manage local water supply in the municipality.

The participants shared that they have identified priority activities for implementation, in particular to conservation of watershed, water source protection and diversifying livelihoods options in affected areas.

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