Nepal—USAID Karnali Water Activity

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2021-2026

Region: Asia and the Pacific

Country: Nepal

Solutions: Environment

Despite pockets of progress, Nepal’s water security, as measured by the metrics of equity, functionality, and ecosystem health, is among the weakest in Asia. Recent achievements, such as the reduction of open defecation, are impressive—but fragile, especially in the Karnali River Basin. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Karnali Water Activity works across the Karnali River Basin in Western Nepal to promote healthy, resilient, and water-secure communities by improving water resources management practices, drinking water supply and multiple-use systems, and fecal sludge management access and treatment plants.

We are using a OneWater approach that knits together actors (community, municipal, watershed, and national) to achieve water security goals. OneWater creates an integrated vision and drives collective action in the Karnali River Basin by mapping assets, risks, and attitudes; convening stakeholders to align interests; co-designing and co-implementing plans and interventions; and rigorously monitoring, learning, and adapting for impact and sustainability.

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Sample Activities

  • Strengthen water management systems for safe and sustainable water services, including climate-resilient water safety plans.
  • Develop social behavior change strategy, campaign, and capacity-strengthening measures for water safety and conservation.
  • Conduct citywide sanitation planning exercises that include fecal sludge management, city drainage, and solid waste systems.
  • Develop policies and regulations for improved watershed-level water resource management.
  • Support the identification of ecologically significant areas to conserve biodiversity and water.

Select Results

  • Constructed 64 sustainable water supply and sanitation schemes, ensuring improved drinking water facilities for 12,852 individuals right at their doorsteps.
  • Collaborated with six local governments to leverage $418,582 for 64 water supply and sanitation schemes constructed during the project’s second year. Similarly, the community contributed 20 percent in-kind, to an equivalent value of $210,036 in the construction of 46 water supply and sanitation schemes.
  • Established 179 Water User and Sanitation Committees, with a 66 percent representation of marginalized populations and 51 percent female membership.
  • Completed comprehensive citywide sanitation plans in seven municipalities.
  • Provided support for 20 water, sanitation, and hygiene bills at the municipal level, with 15 receiving endorsements from respective councils.
  • Facilitated the development of water use master plans approved by local governments in 29 municipalities.
  • Assessed 11,841 spring sources and protected 30 water sources through drainage management, fencing, plantation, recharge pit, intake, and gabion wall constructions, safeguarding 26.45 hectares of biologically significant areas.
  • Conducted 694 capacity-building trainings and events, during which 49 water users and sanitation committee members, 29 local government officials, and community members enhanced their understanding of water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Continued efforts to establish and institutionalize the One Water Steering Committee in each of the four watersheds.
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