2003-2006; 2008-2012 | Middle and Low Hills, Nepal

Comprehensive development for marginalized, rural populations through Multiple-Use Water Services and complementary Livelihood and Health activities.


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Context & Challenges

Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world with a staggering 42% of the population living below the poverty line. While the country is endowed with ample water resources, agricultural productivity is low, and 3.9 million people remain without access to potable drinking water. Children under the age of five are most affected with an estimated 44,000 children dying every year from waterborne diseases and 41% suffering from stunting. Poor and excluded populations living in rural areas have particularly limited access to reliable, sustainable water services for multiple uses. Residents of small, remote hill-area villages (between 500m and 4,000m elevation) must rely on small rivers and streams running from the mountains and spend hours traveling to get water for basic household needs. Quite often women are responsible for fetching water at a cost to their children and opportunities to generate income. Agricultural productivity and incomes are limited by the unpredictability of seasonal precipitation and lack of rainwater management or irrigation solutions.


Smallholder Irrigation Market Initiative (SIMI)

Location: 12 Districts in Middle and Low Hills, Nepal

Dates: 2003-2006

Clients: 9,300 people with improved access to water supply

Funders: USAID, Dutch Govt, OPEC fund

Implementers: Winrock International, IDE, CEAPRED, SAPPROS, AEC, and in close coordination with HMG

Education for Income Generation (EIG)

Location: 15 Districts in Middle and Low Hills, Nepal

Dates: 2008-2012

Beneficiaries: 17,760 people with improved access to water supply

Funders: USAID, Government of Nepal, local communities, DFID, Heifer International, and World Food    Program

Implementers: Winrock, IDE, CEAPRED




View Photos From Middle and Low Hills, Nepal




Increasing income, food security, and resilience by linking Multiple-Use Water Services with high-value horticulture and education.

Spring-fed gravity water systems provide water services for clients’ domestic and productive needs, with particular emphasis on high-value horticulture irrigation. Construction costs are shared between the public and private sectors and communities. Training and support activities focus on the poorest, most food insecure, and most socially marginalized people, with particular emphasis on engaging women in meaningful water system management roles and income generation opportunities. Complementary livelihoods programs target small-scale agricultural activities in select value chains. Newly constructed productive water services are combined with access to drip irrigation technology and training in high-value horticulture for participating households. Water user groups, which intentionally include young adults, are formed and trained in water infrastructure maintenance to ensure that the community can maintain the systems over time. Training in literacy, hygiene, nutrition, agricultural productivity and other life skills is extended to 74,000 people.




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  • Spring-fed piped gravity water systems supply 98 communities with water for domestic and productive uses, including irrigation of high-value horticultural crops
  • Water service delivery targets socially marginalized and food-insecure populations
  • Water user groups are formed and trained to build community capacity to maintain systems over time
  • Women and young people are trained and engaged in meaningful water service management roles



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  • Greater volumes of water and more reliable services are made available for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • Hygiene behavior change and nutrition education are promoted as part of literacy and broader life skill training



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  • Increased access to productive-use water services support income generation activities
  • Support for improved inputs, technical capacity, drip irrigation technology, produce collection centers and market linkages increase income generation from small-scale agricultural production
  • Women are targeted for income generation training and support



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  • Formal water rights are secured by the community, creating incentives for greater water resource stewardship and ensuring water for environmental flows
  • Formation of upland forestry groups, which are linked to downstream communities, improves coordination between watershed stakeholders
  • Reforestation in catchment area improves water quality, stores carbon and provides income from non-timber forest products




What We’ve Learned


Solution Stories

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Water Brings Health and Wealth to Nepal

A combination of more water and technical training allow rural Nepali families to substantially increase their income.


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