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​​Nepalese Women Fetched Water Before Daybreak

But an iDE program now pipes it to their villages


Kamala Magar’s day used to begin before dawn. The Nepalese farmer would get up and walk miles in the cold to fetch water for her family. It would take her most of the morning to retrieve just one jar, which she’d use to make breakfast before setting out for more.

“We couldn’t sleep. We had to go for water. We couldn’t wash ourselves or our clothes. We didn’t have any water to grow vegetables or greens. We had no water for anything,” says Magar, who belongs to the South Asian nation’s indigenous Magar ethnic group.

I De Global Nep Anukulan Nepalese Women Fetched 21 X9

Kamala Magar washes dishes from her new multiple use water system, piped directly to her village

In Nepal, where 70 percent of the population depend on agricultural livelihoods, access to water has actually improved in recent decades. However, just 25 per cent of the water supply is reported to be fully functioning and almost 40 per cent requires major repairs, says Nepal’s Department of Water Supply and Sewerage.

The World Health Organization says 71 percent of all Nepalese water sources, and 91 percent of those used by the poorest quintile, are contaminated with E. coli.

Multiple Use Water Systems Ease The Burden

To combat the situation, iDE has implemented a program that installs Multiple Use Water Systems (MUS) to tap and store water, and then distribute it to households in small communities, to meet both domestic and household agricultural needs.

With support from the Nepalese government, a consortium led by iDE has developed 182 local MUS, serving 22,500 people in the nation’s remote west.

In Magar’s case, a MUS now provides piped water from a spring source which delivers water to 20 families for domestic use and vegetable production. The new system cuts down on hours of labor every day for women and girls, who are usually the household members tasked with collecting water.

“Before, we couldn’t sleep, we had to go for water,” says Magar with a wide grin. “Now we can sleep until 7am because we have piped water. Now we have water anytime.”

Anukulan Program Powered Poor Farmers

The MUS work was part of a broader iDE program to build resilience among Nepalese farmers. The US$10.5 million Anukulan program powered poor farmers, who only grew enough to feed their families and were vulnerable to extreme weather events and food insecurity.

From 2015 to 2019, more than 600,000 people in 120,000 households improved their resilience and livelihood strategies under Anukulan, with low income and marginalized farmers earning greater annual incomes thanks to the program’s “Commercial Pocket Approach” (CPA).

The approach was tailored to Nepal’s varied topography and social vulnerability, which make the country especially susceptible to climate-related disasters. A 2021 report by the World Bank Group said Nepal would face climate change-induced losses equivalent to 2.2 percent of annual GDP by 2050.

With these climate risks in mind, and by working in public-private partnerships at local, provincial, and national levels, Anukulan took a comprehensive approach which worked to:

1. Develop commercial hubs with representative management that enabled remote farmers to effectively coordinate production and marketing.

2. Promote the use of climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices, as well as last-mile supply chains to extend access to critical technologies at the farm doorstep.

3. Harmonize the process for developing Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) with existing disaster risk management planning. Under Anukulan-X (an extension running in 2018-19), bottom-up work introduced in the first phase was scaled up to 41 municipalities, and the project worked top-down with the government to produce guidelines for climate-smart policy implementation. 

Commercial Pocket Approach Increased Incomes

Using the CPA, iDE powered low income and marginalized farmers to improve their resilience to shocks and stressors, and boost their incomes at the same time. Some 1.8 million people are now covered under LAPAs established by Anukulan.

The CPA has been shown to increase coordination among local market actors, including smallholder farmers and women, and private sector input retailers and traders, using rural collection centers.

A cost benefit analysis of the Anukulan project showed a 3.6 to 1 return on investment over a three-year period, which rises to 10 to 1 if taken over 10 years, reflecting the sustainable nature of the intervention. On average, farmer incomes grew by £231 annually.

Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED)

Anukulan is part of the landmark BRACED Programme, a 3-year, £110 million UK government-funded grant supporting more than 140 organizations in 15 consortia across 13 countries in East Africa, the Sahel, and Asia. Its goal was to build the resilience of more than five million vulnerable people against climate extremes and disasters. Resilience is the ability to anticipate, avoid, plan for, cope with, recover from, and adapt to shocks and stresses. Selected projects were extended through 2019 under the follow-on program BRACED-X, which sought to extend the programmatic impact and achieve transformational change to local processes and institutions.

Anukulan Achieved Remarkable Results

The Future For Anukulan-Style Programming

iDE’s proven approach has the potential to be scaled up in various contexts through human-centered design approach, directly contributing to increased socioeconomic, environmental, and project sustainability. A high-level policy dialogue group including government, private sector, and major development actors facilitated an extensive evaluation – by consultants IOD PARC – of the Commercial Pockets Approach. The evaluation not only found the Commercial Pocket Approach raised household incomes by 40.8 percent, but that it was more sustainable and cost-effective than alternatives, with particularly strong results for women and girls.

Partners in the Anukulan Consortium

  • International Partners (7): iDE, ADRA, IWMI, CIMMYT, RW, MU, and Netafim
  • National Partners (4): Rupantaran, RIMS Nepal, SAPPROS Nepal, and NTAG
  • Local Implementing Partners (6): Tharu Women Upliftment Center (TWUC), Sundar Nepal Sanstha (SNS), Creation of Creative Society Nepal (CCSN), National Environment and Equity Development Society (NEEDS), Rural Development Service Center (RDSC), and Multipurpose Development Society (MPDS)