Almost a decade since the end of the civil war and with the recent earthquakes, Nepal continues to struggle in the transitional phase, with its politics still trying to get a firmer footing. ICCO's work in Nepal over the past two decades has been geared towards poverty reduction and social inclusion through governance, food security, and economic empowerment. Going forward, ICCO will build on its empowered community organizations through income generation schemes and increased access to markets.
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From the mighty Himalayas in the north to the fertile plains of Terai in the south, this land locked nation is geographically, topographically and biologically diverse. Nepal boasts eight out of the ten highest mountains in the world, making it the premier destination for trekking and mountaineering. The glacial lakes originating from the Himalayas feed the mighty river systems which is crucial to the primarily agrarian-based economy that employs 73.9% of the population. It also means that there is great economic potential in the development of Hydro –electricity in Nepal. However socio-cultural and political failings have riddled Nepal’s path to development.
Nepal has much to do in empowering its women, young adults, marginalized communities, Dalits and person with disabilities. There are positive indicators with the overall literacy rate rising to 65.9%,
Significantly, in November 2006, a decade long civil war followed by an uneasy reconciliation with the Maoist insurgents, Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord. An interim constitution was announced in January 15, 2007, tasking the Constituent Assembly with the responsibility of promulgating a new constitution reflective of the values of the young secular republic.
After four years of repeated extensions, the First Constituent Assembly was dissolved in May 28, 2012 due to their failure to draft the constitution. New elections were held in November 19, 2013 to elect the Second Nepalese Constituent Assembly; ‘Nepal Constitution 2015’ was finally passed on September 16 by a CA meeting, ensuring Nepal as a federal democratic republican state. However years of political wrangling has left Nepal politically, socially and economically vulnerable.
In the recent years, Nepal has developed into a remittance-based economy, with remittances amounting to more than 24% of Nepal’s GNI, making it the backbone of the economy and far more important than government budget or foreign aid. For now two thirds of the country’s GDP comes from small time farming.
Economic empowerment is the guiding thematic direction of ICCO in Nepal, supported by lobby and policy work from local to national level and is integrated with food and nutrition security and water, sanitation & hygiene.
Economic Empowerment: In Nepal, ICCO focused on production improvement, primary cooperative development, sales in local markets and imparting basic business skills to farmers. Based on the developments at target group level, the analysis of similar programmes in the Far and Mid-West Nepal and the experiences in multi-stakeholder partnerships, ICCO is taking on a more comprehensive intervention combining food and nutrition security and inclusive market development.In the geo focus areas, nutrition and hygiene form integral elements and indicators of an improved livelihood. In addition, social perceptions on food habits and nutrition, hygiene practices are closely linked with dignity of these people. Although remote, even in these districts access to markets opportunities and aspirations arise. ICCO Cooperation is assessing and developing food security, entrepreneurship and access to markets opportunities in a do-no-harm and conflict sensitive approach. Moreover, the focus on entrepreneurship and access to markets aligns with inclusion of marginal groups, improving their access to resources, promoting women leadership.
Impact Investment & Business Incubation: The primary focus of business incubation and impact investments is to support and invest in start-up companies in the SME category where capital, plus access to technology and skills, will unlock growth in industries, which will stimulate a positive social or environmental outcome. Business incubation initiatives will be taken in order to make the potential cases investible. For impact investment, ICCO aims to focus on agriculture and renewable energy (small scale hydro, solar production, off grid solutions).
Community Governance & Mobilization: Evidence based lobby and policy work on access to land and natural resources for Dalit’s, landless and other marginal groups is intrinsically part of ICCO’s programme planning and implementation in Nepal. This is done at the national level and joined with a practical implementation approach at local level.
Even though the focus shifts towards economic empowerment, the alignment and integration with improving access to economic empowerment opportunities is crucial. It is applied at the national level for lobby and policy work and at the local level as the evidence base.
Gender and Disability Inclusion: Inclusiveness is important for ICCO Cooperation and therefore specific marginal target groups are a focus at all levels of intervention. The target groups include Dalits, women, people with disability and landless. The lobby agenda will focus on specific issues of land rights, access to basic services and entitlements. In the hills and mountain districts, marginalized people like Dalits and ethnic minorities are either landless or land-poor and the problem is exacerbated by fragmentation of arable land. Women in general do not have a decision making role in access to resources such as forest and water (so female Dalit’s face double exclusion Absentee landlordism and redistribution of land is a larger problem in the lower districts.
A specific and targeted effort is taken up regarding disability mainstreaming in programmes and key partners. This activity is undertaken with Mission East and ICCO Cooperation member, Light for the World.
Public Private Partnership: ICCO’s emphasis has always been on partnerships and cooperation. The PPP-model connects the resources and expertise of various sectors (governments, companies, knowledge institutions, NGOs) when implementing entrepreneurial programmes to eradicate poverty.
Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P): ICCO uses M4P as the key approach to link producers to consolidators and financing institutions, as well as key markets and buyers of specific products and commodities. Based on M4P approaches, we design subsector interventions and implement them through multi actor processes. The approach is applied mostly in our agriculture, food security and/or WASH programmes.
Value Chain Development (VCD): At ICCO, we emphasize on empowering people so that they can connect with viable and sustainable value chains, generate income and produce sufficient quantities of quality food for a balanced diet. We apply programmatic approaches with a broad range of value chain actors, including NGOs, producer organizations, local small and medium enterprises, international companies and financial institutions. Programmatic cooperation around value chains by a diversity of actors results in more outreach and sustainability. ICCO improves productivity and works toward fair price and living wages for small producers. Actors working together on value chain issues are also better able to define lobby issues to their government for a better enabling environment, as they have a united and stronger voice to demand their rights.
Lobby and Advocacy: In Nepal, ICCO’s lobby and advocacy work focuses on adequate implementation of the policies on right to land and other productive resources like water and forest. Through the National Coalition on Food and Water Security (NCFAW), ICCO has been undertaking evidence-based advocacy on the issues of land [mis]-use at the national level. At national level the coalition will be linked up with national networks such as FIAN Nepal, the National Network on the Right to Food and Nepal WASH Alliance. These networks also have their representatives at the local level. So, a closer cooperation will also be initiated at the grassroots.