Disaster risk reduction and climate change

Practical Action Nepal

Nepal is prone to natural disasters due to its geographical and climatic variations requiring different coping strategies to minimise the negative effects. The vulnerable groups, mainly poor people from the rural and urban areas, are in a dilemma of economic hardship, insufficient knowledge on disaster management, low literacy rates, inadequate physical infrastructure, poor forecasting facilities and unplanned settlement. This situation leads to a number of frequent problems related with the livelihoods of the vulnerable people. The hardest hit is the agricultural sector.

Practical Action Nepal's Disaster risk reduction and climate change programme aims to reduce the loss of lives and property of vulnerable communities due to water induced disaster and addresses the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities by identifying and developing adaptation and coping strategies.

Based on the lessons learned from previous projects in Nepal and consolidating international learning, Practical Action is focusing its work on preparedness, promotion and adaptation of indigenous practices, and the development of early warning systems appropriate for flood disaster. The programme further encompasses

  • the adaptation of existing natural resource management practices to reduce the impacts of climate change;
  • study of indigenous coping strategies, knowledge and skills;
  • adaptation of existing farming system/ ractices;
  • strengthening communities’ coping strategies and
  • diversifying livelihood options; and establishing appropriate monitoring systems at community/micro level. DFiD

Archive content: please note, this page refers to historic work. Read about our current work in disaster risk reduction in Nepal.

Investment on livelihood approaches to DRR is cost effective (English, PDF, 1.5Mb)
Cost-benefit analysis of activities on improving livelihood assets showed that improvements in the livelihoods of communities increase their resilience capacities and benefits exceed the cost of investment. The study provides a systematic cost-benefit analysis of a community-based disaster risk management project led by Practical Action in two districts of Nepal over the period 2007 to 2010. Under cautious assumptions about the long-term impacts of the project initiatives, the overall benefit-cost ratio ranges from 1.13 to 1.45, while under moderately optimistic assumptions the estimated benefit cost ratio is up to 2.04. The internal rate of return of the project is between 22.2 and 26.3 percent. These findings indicate that the livelihood-centred approach to disaster risk reduction adopted in this project has resulted in a significant net contribution to the economic welfare of the target communities and delivered value for money.

Establishing Community Based Early Warning System - Practitioner's Handbook (English, PDF, 896k)
Establishing Community Based Early Warning System - Facilitator's Guide (English, PDF, 758k)
Scaling up Early Warning Systems in Nepal - case studies and good practices (English, PDF, 2.5Mb)
The Practitioner’s Handbook and Facilitators Guide on community based early warning systems is an effort to put together the early warning learning experiences from the field and communities in Nepal for wider use to establish community based early warning systems in flood prone areas of Nepal. The Practitioner’s Handbook is available as a reading material for the participants, including learning tips in bullet points so that the participants can use the points in the field while facilitating the establishment of Early Warning Systems (EWS). The handbook further includes references to various articles and resource books plus a DVD with additional resource material which the facilitator can make use of for the training.

Strengthening livelihood capacities to disaster risk reduction: compilation of change studies (English, PDF, 1.8Mb)
This book documents the lessons learned during the Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction project in the Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts of Nepal. It describes the prevailing physical, institutional and socio-economic context, and details the activities and its interventions.

Understanding disaster management in practice (English, PDF, 3.6Mb)
Understanding disaster management in practice (Nepali, PDF, 3.6Mb)
Communities are not passive victims waiting for disasters to strike, but rather have the capacity to build their resilience to disasters. This book documents lessons learned during the implementation of the Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Management project in Nepal. It describes the prevailing physical, institutional and socio-economic context and details of activities and interventions. It describes how participatory hazard and vulnerability analysis leads to the development of community development plans while accounting prevalent future risks. Improved and diversified livelihood strategies, including the adoption of new income generating opportunities have increased incomes, food security, better health and resilience of targeted communities while reducing their exposure to prevailing future hazards. The aftermath of project implementation reveals that a livelihood centered approach reduces both poverty and vulnerability.

Disaster Management in Nepal: needs for improvement - lessons learned from community-based disaster risk reduction (Nepali, PDF, 3Mb)
Policies and practices are generally focused on larger disastrous events, rescue and relief. But small hazard sources, if neglected and not mitigated in time, grow into severe hazards beyond communities’ capacity to cope. This document explores gaps and appropriate direction to disaster management in Nepal at both policy and practice. It is the outcome of learning at work and a review of different approaches and concepts on disaster management.

Communcation channel and contact points for Nawalparasi and Chitwan
These documents, in Nepali, depict contact points in the flood gauge station in the upstream to various agencies responsible for disaster management along the bank to the downstream and district level authorities to disseminate information of flood risk in advance as part of early warning systems to the flood in Nawalparasi and Chitwan districts, south central Nepal. More ...

Early Warning Saving Lives (English, PDF, 1.6 MB)
This publication helps summarise Practical Action’s learning in Early Warning Systems (EWS) and offers practical insight in to how such systems can be replicated and developed elsewhere.

Community Based Disaster Management Plan - Chitwan (Nepali, PDF, 4.98 MB)
The disaster management plan of vulnerable VDCs and a municipality of Chitwan district in Nepal includes separate plans of each 31 village development committees and a municipality. This book is result of series of interactions among communities in the VDC and stakeholders’ workshops in a group of VDCs.

Community Based Disaster Management Plan - Nawalparasi (Nepali, PDF, 4.4 MB)
The disaster management plan of vulnerable VDCs (category 1 and 2) of Nawalparasi district in Nepal includes separate plans of 26 village development committees. This book is result of series of interactions among communities in the VDC and stakeholders’ workshops in a group of VDCs.

Disaster Risk Reduction Policy Brief (Nepali. PDF, 759k)
The document, in Nepali, depicts process of community based disaster management planning at community and VDC level. This is based on the joint work in two districts in Nepal in collaborative efforts of district governments, village governments, projects and NGOs. A more elaborated version is also available in English.

Practical approaches on community based disaster management planning (English, PDF, 487k)
The document provides information on process and methods on CBDM planning based on practical experiences in Nepal. Government and civil society organizations were involved in the process.

Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (Nepali, PDF, 1.6 MB)
This brief note describes disaster, disaster risk, and its management in the cycle, ie. before, during and post disaster situations. It looks at livelihood assets and how a poverty-pressed family gets into vicious circle of poverty, and how stronger livelihoods provide supports to resilience, before examining activities to enhance livelihoods that enhance resilience capacity of vulnerable families.

Mainstreaming Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (English and Nepali, PDF, 361 KB)
An illustrated project information brochure in English and Nepali, outlining the Mainstreaming Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction project methodology and expected outputs.

Strengthening livelihood capacities to disaster risk reduction (English, PDF, 94 KB)
A more detailed report on the Mainstreaming Livelihood Centred Approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction project.

Temporal and Spatial Variability of Climate Change Over Nepal 1976-2005 (English, PDF, 5.03 MB)
A comprehensive study of temperature and precipitation of Nepal was conducted to see the signs of climate change across geographical areas and over seasons. Monthly precipitation data from 166 stations and monthly temperature records from 44 stations for the period of 30 years (1976-2005) over Nepal were considered in this study. Through the use of these data, temporal and spatial variations of precipitation and temperature were analysed. Climatic maps were prepared for various ecological zones and for the whole of Nepal.

Helping the Poorest to Survive- Promoting Adaptation to Climate Change (English, PDF, 1.29 MB)
This paper briefly reviews climate change and its impacts at national and local levels in Nepal, which indicate climate uncertainties are sure in the coming years. The paper also highlights adaptation strategy and areas for action at community level based on the experiences of Practical Action in Nepal.

Shallow Tube Well Construction (Nepali, PDF, 1.3 MB)
This document in Nepali provides information on the construction of shallow tube well by a group of small landholding farmers in the Tarai region in Nepal. It states different methods of boring and accessing technical and financial inputs from underground water irrigation project offices of the ministry of water resources and district agriculture offices in the region. This is based on the DRR project experience while working with communities and NGOs, in Chitwan district in particular. Underground water irrigation project of the ministry of water resources and district agriculture development office in Chitwan provided information on policies and advices to prepare this book.

Impacts of Climate Change in Nepal: Voices of the People

Based on field observations, information and interactions with communities in Nepal, this report compiles the outcomes of the studies conducted by Practical Action's Nepal office between 2007 and 2009, which brings out the communities' perceptions and concerns in respect to climate change, and provides basis for adaptation planning.

Further information

Building embankment boosts farming

Sumitra with her grain stock Land erosion and deposition of debris due to frequent flooding has left many Bote families in a peril living near the banks of Baulaha River in Nawalparasi District. Among the affected is Sumitra’s (47) family, she lives with her husband, a son and a daughter.

In the last decade, livelihoods of Bote community’s – fishing and ferrying people across the rivers-slowly perished due to river pollution, frequent flooding, and construction of bridges and culverts among others. After much endurance to sustain their livelihoods, like many, Sumitra and her family opted agriculture as their main occupation but unfortunately, frequent flooding has caused them to lose their crops every year forcing them to work as daily wage labourers. “The year 2006 was the most painful one, as the flood destroyed our paddies and deposited debris in our land, I was unable to harvest a single grain of crop,” she recalls.

Sumitra and her family collect and sieve sand and aggregates for selling but the work is very tedious and earns far less compared to farming. Disaster caused by frequent flooding has shifted the settlement of Bote communities (known as Bote Tole) two km away from the main highway. Practical Action in partnership with its local implementing partner - SAHAMATI started implementing DRR project in 2007 along the settlements of Baulaha River. In 2008 winter, communities, project staff and concerned stakeholders agreed to construct a 1.8 km long embankment along both banks of the Baulaha River. The new embankment has helped protect 40 hectares of arable land out of which Sumitra’s family owns one hectare.

“After the project helped us build embankment, we renovated our farms and transplanted paddies. We produced 800 kg last year,” she says. “The produce is enough to fulfill our year round rice supply. There are now other families who have also started cultivating their land.”

Sumitra smiles and further says - “I have received training on different methods of growing vegetables. We consumed the vegetables planted in our 200 square meter yard last season and sold only the remaining and still earned NPR. 5000 (£45). With the money, I bought utensils and spices and have saved half of it for emergency.”

More case studies on disaster risk reduction in Nepal


This project aims to enhance the capacity of communities and relevant institutions in Nepal to strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) systems and structure and replicate DRR initiatives to ensure community based risk management at local level.

Read more

Mainstreaming livelihood-centred approaches to disaster management

This project aims to enable poor communities to build secure lives and cope better with hazards such as floods, landslides, droughts and wildlife intrusions.

Find out more

Scaling-up Early Warning Systems in Nepal (SEWIN)

Building on previous experience with early warning systems in Nepal, this project aims to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable flood-prone communities and district authorities in Nepal to understand, mitigate and respond to risk, and benefit through the use of flood EWS.

Find out more

(for historic work see also Banke Bardia flood warning programme funded by ECHO and application of alternative strategies for community-based flood preparedness, and Strengthening the capacity of communities to manage early warning systems to reduce the impacts of floods)

Recent project work also includes Increasing community resilience to cope with impacts of climate change

Making Cities Resilient

‘Making Cities Resilient’ is part of the World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2010-2011. It is intended that the campaign will address issues of local governance and urban risk, building on previous campaigns by the UN group International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) for safer schools and hospitals as well as sustainable urbanisation principles.

The Nepal element of the DRR project has been included in the process of participation in this campaign for Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts. This participation will include activities implemented in Practical Actions partnership through DRR projects in the district.

For more information on the campaign please visit ‘Making Cities Resilient’ Campaign and search the alphabetical listing for Chitwan and Nawalparasi.

See also Practical Action South Asia's guidance note Towards Resilient cities and the Characteristics of a Disaster Resilient Community resource.

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