DFID's bilateral programme in Nepal - International Development Contents

3  Climate change and disaster reduction

DFID's programmes

25. Nepal's emissions of greenhouse gases are negligible and yet its population is amongst the most vulnerable to climate change in the world. In the remote western regions alone, over 1 million people suffer severe consequences from climate-induced disasters every year[17]. According to DFID, Nepal is the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change and one of the 20 most disaster prone countries in the world. There have been more than 4,000 disaster-related fatalities in the last ten years and economic losses of $5.34bn. It faces a significant earthquake threat which could reverse development gains and increase the risk of conflict. As monsoon patterns change, ten million poor farmers are at greater risk from droughts, flooding and food insecurity.

26. DFID argued that climate change had been identified as a Government of Nepal priority and it had remained an area of political consensus and progress in the country. In 2011 the Government of Nepal approved a Climate Change Policy which set out the risks associated with climate change and proposed a range of priority areas. A strategic program for climate resilience was prepared and is being implemented.

27. DFID states that Nepal has taken major steps in advancing the widespread integration of adaptation measures. Climate resilience is starting to be integrated through the National Planning Commission climate-resilient planning initiative. The recent budget (2013-14) included analysis of resilience integration. DFID has supported this work through the DFID Asia Regional Team 'Climate Proofing Growth and Development' initiative; which is looking at climate finance and capacity building. DFID has also supported the creation and use of climate budget codes locally through the Local Governance and Community Development Programme.

28. DFID has supported Disaster and Climate Change Resilience in a number of ways:

·  Nepal Climate Change Support Programme. According in DFID, as the chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group and the LDC Expert Group, Nepal has become an influential member in UNFCCC negotiations. In 2010 the Government of Nepal, with DFID support, produced a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), which sets out the immediate areas where support is required to reduce peoples' vulnerability to climate change. DFID is supporting these for the lifetime of its current Operational Plan (2011-15).[18] DFID and the EU are funding the first 4-year phase of the £14.6m Nepal Climate Change Support Programme (designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Science and Environment and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development), which includes support to design and implement local adaptation plans within 14 climate vulnerable districts to identify what changes could be made to local infrastructure, agriculture, emergency plans, services and community awareness. The aim is to make the communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change or extreme weather.

·  National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme. Working with the Danish and Norwegian Embassies, DFID has been supporting the Government of Nepal's National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme, which aims to improve the living standards of rural women and men, reduce dependency on traditional energy and increase employment by maximising productivity of rural energy. DFID claims that through its funds, 300,000 people in Nepal's rural areas have benefitted from solar power installation.

·  Support for Nepal's work to advance the integration of adaptation measures. Climate resilience is starting to be integrated through the National Planning Commission climate resilient planning initiative. The recent budget (2013-14) included analysis on the level of resilience integration. DFID has supported this work through the DFID Asia Regional Team 'Climate Proofing Growth and development' initiative; which is looking at climate finance and capacity building. DFID has also supported the creation and use of climate budget codes at locally through the Local Governance and Community Development Programme.

·  Multi-Stakeholder Forestry Programme. This programme is the latest in DFID's help for the Government of Nepal expand the role of the forestry sector in helping poor people adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts for over 30 years, which has led to significant reforestation of Nepal. Better management of forests and land not only increases forest productivity but also mitigates against the impact of landslides, flooding, soil erosion and other natural disasters which impede economic growth in Nepal. Forest products (wood fuel, timber, fodder) are essential to the livelihoods of millions of Nepal's poorest people. DFID claims that its Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme has enabled over 18,000 community forestry user groups (encompassing 40% of Nepal's population) to enjoy access to forest tenure rights, resulting in improved livelihoods for nearly 500,000 people in the last 3 years.

·  Support to Build Earthquake Resilience Programme. The inevitable, if unpredictable, occurrence of a major earthquake is considered the most deadly threat faced by Nepal, due to the likely massive loss of life and infrastructure. Through the Support to Build Earthquake Resilience Programme the UK is supporting Nepal to build disaster resilience by strengthening the GoN's disaster risk management policy, "scaling up community-based disaster resilience activities" and improving preparedness for a national and international emergency response in the event of a major earthquake. Given the scale of natural hazards, and the likely increase in water-induced disasters in Nepal under climate change, DFID Nepal is also now using the Earthquake Resilience Programme to consider the impact of floods, landslides and multi-hazard disasters.

We visited many of these programmes and questioned DFID about them.


29. DFID suffers from frequent outages of power and remote areas are inevitably off the grid. In these circumstances alternative energies can play a key role. We discuss the potentially transformational role of major hydro-schemes in the next chapter, but on our visit it seemed that there was an important local role for solar power. The Minister agreed, but pointed out that solar power would largely be limited to providing lighting.[19]


30. The Committee visited a Community Forest User Group at Kushma, Parbat, which informed us that it was now able to manage the forests but wanted help with getting better livelihoods from the forest, including advice on marketing and product development. DFID informed us:

    33% of the funds from our forestry programme go into livelihood support. That is more than it used to be. As the forestry capacity of the communities has grown, we have been able to diversify our support.[20]


31. We asked whether for all the good work DFID was doing, its efforts were just scratching the surface. Mr Swayne replied that Kathmandu was the most danger-prone city in the world in terms of earthquake risk. DFID had programmes, particularly in the Kathmandu valley and Pokhara, with respect to the building code and pre-disposition of relief supplies, but added "you are right; there is a very significant problem." [21] Asked whether DFID should get involved in urban planning and broader work to cope with disasters, Mark Smith informed us that DFID was trying make sure the building code in the future was enforced and stopped buildings going up that were going to fall down when there was an earthquake. DFID was also working with the World Food Programme, to try to ensure that as supplies come in post disaster through the airport and could be widely distributed. Getting supplies into the country after an earthquake is likely to be particularly difficult because there only one international airport in Nepal at Kathmandu which has only one runway, which might well be affected by an earthquake.[22]

Integrating Climate Change

32. DFID Nepal argued that it had made important steps in "integrating climate change responses across its diverse portfolio of infrastructure, community development and local governance programmes". It claimed that its initiatives had demonstrated the potential and impact of community based strategies to adapt to climate change. However, DFID added that despite strong political interest and commitment on paper, progress in helping poor people cope with climate impacts has been slow. Institutional capacity is weak and lack of coordination between ministries and departments has hindered progress up until now. DFID told us that it was

    thinking through every single thing that we do to proof it against climate change and to consider how it can have an effect on climate change. For example, we have a very extensive road building programme. We would be very foolish indeed were we not to put significant effort into ensuring that the roads we build are sustainable and will be sustained notwithstanding climate change.[23]

33. We questioned whether by 'mainstreaming' climate work, the focus on the core development job of poverty alleviation, education and basic health care might be lost. The Minister did not think that climate-proofing held back development. The additional cost, for example when building roads, could be small and that in Nepal climate change could drive forward green investment and growth. [24]

The International Climate Fund (ICF)

34. The ICF is a £3.87bn fund running from 2011 to 2016, jointly managed by DFID, DECC and Defra, working with developing countries to:

·  reduce carbon emissions through low carbon development;

·  help the poor adapt to the effects of climate change; and

·  reduce deforestation. [25]

35. The UK is providing £15m from the ICF for the Nepal Climate Change Support Programme, following an initial commitment of £11.6m of 'fast start' funding to the first phase of the programme (co-funded by the EU with technical assistance support from UNDP).

36. In December 2014 ICAI published a report which analysed the ICF programme globally and gave it a 'green amber' rating. However, it said the process for involvement of stakeholders, including the private sector, and governments in the design of ICF programmes was "inadequate." We questioned Ministers about both these issues.

37. In respect of the involvement of the GoN in ICF programmes, we were informed:

    One of the contributions that we have made is by building the capacity of Government first of all to recognise the danger and, secondly, to be able to participate effectively through our work, together with the FCO, in international negotiations. As a consequence, it now chairs the LDC and we now have the situation where the transformative action that Nepal has taken in terms of the adaptation through local communities is seeking to be emulated by others. We have done a great deal working through Government in Nepal.[26]

In respect of working more closely with the private sector, we were informed

    In terms of adaptation or, indeed, mitigation, we have worked with the private sector to implement solar power schemes and to develop new cooking technologies—new cooking stoves—but principally what will be transformative in driving forward an agenda of green growth is hydropower, which is going to be private sector led.[27]

Conclusions and recommendations

38. Given the threats to Nepal from climate change and earthquakes, we welcome DFID's focus on these issues. We were particularly impressed by the community forestry programme which shows the advantages of working in the area for several decades. We support DFID's decision to give more emphasis to livelihoods in its forestry programmes. We support DFID's encouragement of solar power and recommend that this be a priority. However, we consider DFID's work on disaster resilience is on too small a scale. We recommend DFID engage with the Government of Nepal in urban planning, including transport planning. This is an area where UK has considerable expertise. If necessary, DFID Nepal should employ an additional adviser.

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Prepared 27 March 2015