Lutheran World Relief’s approach to climate-smart agriculture helps smallholder farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of changing climates, while improving their own household food security and protecting the environment.
In Nepal, where monsoons, flooding, landslides and a rapidly changing ecosystem can devastate food production and farmers’ livelihoods, the impacts of climate change are already placing millions at risk.
By fostering climate-resilient agriculture landscapes to ensure the sustainable productivity and wellbeing of farmers and their communities, Lutheran World Relief is committed to long-term investment in rural livelihoods in Nepal.
Since 2009, Lutheran World Relief has worked in Nepal, reaching Indigenous, Dalit and other marginalized communities with programs in agriculture and food security, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance. Our holistic approach prioritizes women and youth and helps communities to build the resilience they need to thrive. By partnering with local non-governmental organizations, farmers’ organizations and private sector actors, we strengthen agricultural enterprises while enhancing sustainable water management and climate adaptive systems.
Community adaption through climate-smart agriculture practices
We work to promote approaches that increase agricultural production and income without depleting natural resources, encouraging resilience and climate change adaptation.
Through the Transboundary Flood Resilience project, Lutheran World Relief and our local partners assisted communities located along the India-Nepal border to strengthen their resilience to the devastating effects of annual flooding. Launched in 2013, the project organized community members into community disaster risk management committees (CDMCs) as well as into transboundary citizen forums to prepare for and adapt to recurrent flooding by enhancing community capacities on early warning, first aid, search and rescue and rehabilitation services.
Community adaptation to climate change was prioritized through climate-smart agriculture practices and livelihoods diversification, including riverbed farming, portable vegetable nurseries, raised nurseries and hanging vegetable farming. By working through a market systems approach that engaged private sector actors, such as insurance companies, agrovets and seed companies, as well as local cooperatives and savings and loan associations, the project advanced rural livelihoods and robust linkages to local and national government institutions.
Overcoming climate-related shocks
Farming communities in Nepal are highly sensitive to climate-induced shocks due to subsistence farming practices, small farm sizes, and low crop and livestock productivity. Lutheran World Relief fosters the integration of disaster risk reduction strategies alongside climate-adaptive agricultural practices to overcome climate-related shocks
Funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), Lutheran World Relief’s Strengthening Local Governance for Disaster-Resilient Communities (SAKSHAM) project supported community resilience through a holistic approach to disaster risk reduction, capacity strengthening and climate-smart agriculture in Nepal. The project localized disaster risk reduction management at the municipal and community levels for better preparedness and response capacities.
By also adopting flood and drought resilient agricultural practices, communities were able to withstand the impact of climate-related shocks and recover more quickly. Additionally, SAKSHAM increased the financial resilience of people most vulnerable to flooding by strengthening their engagement with cooperatives, micro-finance institutions and insurance programs.
Marginalized groups in Nepal are particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and intensified disaster risk. Intersectional identities that include age, income, race, religion, class, sexuality and disability status compound discrimination and levels of vulnerability.
By partnering with the private sector through our Yuwa Udhhami (“youth entrepreneurship”) project in Nepal, youth from marginalized communities in Nepal’s Bardiya district develop entrepreneurial skills and capacity in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) centered around climate-smart agriculture. The project targets ethnic minorities, Dalits and women as it trains youth on the production of high-value crops, provides coaching for business plan development, and creates linkages to financial institutions, cooperatives and markets.
Women are also empowered to become successful entrepreneurs through the Mahila Udhhami (“women’s entrepreneurship”) project. Focused on supporting Dalit women, single women and women who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the project not only promotes entrepreneurship within cooperatives to allow for continued mentorship but also establishes market outlet centers and strengthens local networks to advance community resilience.
Lutheran World Relief is committed to mitigating the effects of rising temperatures, shifting seasons, more frequent and severe weather, and new pests and diseases in Nepal and beyond. Through our climate-smart agriculture experience, we will continue to apply regenerative agriculture approaches like integrated water resource management and sustainable land management to increase farmer productivity and profitability while advancing disaster risk reduction.
We believe that a thriving natural environment capable of providing resources and sustaining livelihoods for current and future generations is critical to solving the climate crisis.