FAO’s recovery and rehabilitation work in Nepal following the earthquakes

FAO’s recovery and rehabilitation work in Nepal following the earthquakes

18/03/2016

After the earthquakes in April and May 2015, in a close collaboration with the Government of Nepal and local Non-governmental Organization partners, FAO started an immediate relief operation to support vulnerable farmers affected by the earthquakes, by providing them with the key inputs to revive the heavily-impacted agricultural sector. These activities included distribution of vegetable and grain seed, grain storage bags and animal feed to protect the livestock health. Beside the immediate relief, longer-term recovery and rehabilitation work, ongoing since October 2015, aims at providing capacity development trainings for farmers, rehabilitating small-scale community managed irrigation schemes and protecting livestock by rehabilitating animal shelters.  

FAO’s interaction with the earthquake-affected communities noted the common challenge of the destruction of the irrigation channels heavily-impacted the grain and vegetable production. The widespread infrastructure damage, combined with the late and scarce monsoon rains for rice paddy plantation and, continuing landslides, limited the farmers ability to successfully harvest. Therefore, FAO has identified 24 small-scale community managed irrigation schemes, that will be rehabilitated and it is expected that once repaired, these schemes will be able to irrigate about 350 hectares of land.

Small-scale community managed irrigation schemes

Mahadevsthan Odare Kulo- a small-scale community managed irrigation scheme in Sindhupalchowk district, the most earthquake-affected district of Nepal, was heavily destroyed by the 25 April’s earthquake. The Lapse community suffered massively after the earthquakes, not only due to the destruction of houses and grain-storage facilities, but the diminished production of grain crops and vegetables due to the destruction of the main irrigation channel supplying water to the farms. Due to the landslides along the channel, about 30 hectares of land in this community remained fallow after the earthquakes.
Before the destruction, the families in Lapse community grew multiple cycles of cauliflower, cabbage, radish, tomato and carrot during winter and rice paddy during summer. 

Odare Kulo is one of the 24 irrigation schemes that FAO is currently rehabilitating. Once rehabilitated, Odare Kulo can once again irrigate 30 hectares of land, benefitting 80 households- and supporting the production of 200 tonnes of vegetables and 70 tonnes of paddy, generating an annual income of 5 000 000 Rupees for the community (USD 46 000).

Like Odare Kulo, Baltar Panipul in Dhading district is one of the 24 irrigation schemes that FAO has rehabilitated. This scheme was badly damaged during the earthquakes and was non-functional. Now, Baltar Panipul scheme is once again irrigating 6.5 hectares of land, benefitting 33 households. With the availability of irrigation, farmers are able to harvest at least three cycles of high value crops in a year.

Mobilizing community to ensure the sustainability of the projects

FAO continues to work in a close collaboration with the Government of Nepal as well as the local Non-governmental Organizations in supporting the recovery and rehabilitation work in Nepal. At the community level, FAO works with local leaders and groups to carry out the rehabilitation works in the earthquake-affected communities. In rehabilitating the irrigation schemes, FAO is working with the community water-user groups, who receive trainings on the repair and maintenance of the schemes. By ensuring community leadership, providing trainings on repair work and maintenance, and   building in monitoring and decision making processes at the community level; FAO ensures the sustainability of the projects.

In Lapse community for example, the water-user group is also a registered local cooperative which benefits from the project management training provided by FAO. The Cooperative’s collection center was also badly damaged in the earthquakes. FAO worked with the member to rehabilitate the collection center, using earthquake-resistant design to build it back better and safer. Deliveries from the collection to the center are set to resume in the near future.

Mobilizing local resources for rehabilitation works

All of the irrigation scheme reconstruction and rehabilitation works done by FAO are coordinated with the local water-user groups. With the technical and financial support from FAO, the community water-user groups decide how the rehabilitation work should be done. FAO promotes the use of locally available resources (stone, lumber, labour) during rehabilitation work, minimizing the need for external resources and the amount of transportation of goods to affected areas. In supporting crop production by rehabilitating irrigation systems, FAO ensures effective use of water resources and employs techniques for soil conservation and stabilization of landslide affected areas, eventually contributing to environmentally friendly strategies for all activities.

FAO’s long term recovery and rehabilitation operation has been possible with the generous support from Belgium, Canada, Italy and Norway.