Building resilience amidst ongoing challenges in Nepal

Building resilience amidst ongoing challenges in Nepal

21/12/2015

Amidst ongoing challenges in Nepal following the earthquakes in April/May 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is continuing its recovery and rehabilitation activities to strengthen the resilience of families whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. For the past three months, due to a border closure in the south, Nepal has faced shortages of fuel, gas and supplies imported from India.

Jhamka

Immediately following the earthquakes and many aftershocks, FAO began its emergency response to address the immediate needs of the hardest-hit farmers in the six most affected districts. Support included the provision of agricultural inputs, such as cereal and vegetable seeds, storage bags for grain and seeds, and animal feed. 

In the recovery and rehabilitation phase – ongoing since October – FAO has focused efforts on building the resilience of farmers to future crises. Under this strategy, FAO’s support to vulnerable farmers includes delivering capacity development trainings, constructing and restoring crucial agricultural infrastructure and protecting livestock by rehabilitating animal shelters.  

Supporting vulnerable populations to restore livelihoods

FAO is supporting women’s groups to produce nutritious food during the winter months through the provision of materials to construct plastic tunnels for vegetable production. By maintaining stable temperatures, the structures protect vegetables from cold and frost. The produce will contribute to diversifying families’ diets and improving their nutrition, as well as provide an alternative source of income through the sale of surplus production. 

Many smallholder farming families depend on livestock for their livelihoods – in response, FAO is providing livestock support. Representing a reliable source of food, income and draught power for rural families, livestock are valuable and costly to replace. Knowledge in animal health and ideal care practices is essential. To help keep animals healthy and productive, FAO is training livestock holders on the production of mineral blocks for animal feed, which provides livestock with essential nutrients. In addition, FAO is providing corrugated iron sheeting for the rehabilitation of earthquake-damaged animal shelters to protect livestock from severe weather during the winter season.

Rebuilding local infrastructure through community participation

The earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks led to numerous landslides in the hills and mountains of Nepal, damaging hundreds of irrigation channels. To ensure communities’ access to the irrigation necessary to expand their crop production and extend land use through three growing seasons, FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of small-scale community-managed irrigation schemes. Working through existing Water User Groups, the Organization is also training select individuals on the technical maintenance and repair of irrigation channels.

Partnering with local organizations to support vulnerable farmers

FAO emergency operation has been possible with the generous support from Belgium, Canada, Italy and Norway. Close collaboration with the Government and local Non-governmental Organizations has been crucial to facilitate ownership and leadership of FAO’s activities, drawing on their understanding of the local context and traditional knowledge. Partnerships with local civil society organizations ensure FAO’s accountability to affected populations, a strategy which sets measures for local participation and knowledge sharing.

Overcoming challenges to the implementation of FAO activities

Despite the ongoing fuel crisis and border blockades, FAO’s recovery and reconstruction activities in Nepal are moving forward. Working with Government partners and communities, FAO is identifying and pursuing local alternatives for the procurement of seeds, grain storage bags, plastic tunnels and animal feed. Alternative transportation options for procured inputs are also being developed. While it is hoped that the issue of border blockades is solved as soon as possible, FAO and its partners will continue to employ and develop innovative solutions to provide urgent support to Nepalese farmers.