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The NEPCAT fact sheets are being published to help document this knowledge and fill knowledge gaps on sustainable land management.
Natural Resource Management – approaches and technologies in Nepal
Most of the communities in Nepal are highly dependent on natural resources and have a rich experience of natural resources management, including sustainable land management (SLM). Land users and SLM experts and technicians spend most of their time on the land and develop considerable knowledge of land management, water management, watershed management, soil fertility improvement, and protection of soil resources in the course of their daily activities. However, most of this valuable knowledge is not documented or shared, and the knowledge remains a local and individual resource. The NEPCAT (Nepal Conservation Approaches and Technologies) fact sheets are being published to help document this knowledge and fill knowledge gaps on SLM. A loose and open network has been established to tap the experience of land users, technicians, and SLM experts from all over the country. The main aim of the NEPCAT network is to compile case studies on sustainable land management (SLM) and soil and water conservation (SWC), to feed them into the global World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) database, and to make them easily available to users across the country and in the wider Himalayan region in the form of factsheets. The ultimate aim is to offer a complete basket of options with technologies and approaches covering the wide range of geographic areas, land forms, and agro-ecological zones in Nepal to land users, managers, and decision makers so that they can choose appropriate technological packages and practices to address issues of soil erosion, land degradation, water scarcity, poor soil fertility, food security, and environmental and climate change.
The World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) is a global network of soil and water conservation (SWC) specialists that facilitates the sharing of knowledge on soil and water management and the efficient use of existing know-how. The Himalayan Conservation Approaches and Technologies (HIMCAT) network is an offspring of the global WOCAT initiative – a virtual platform set up to enable its members and other SWC specialists from across Asia to share their information and knowledge on soil and water management. Nepal Conservation Approaches and Technologies (NEPCAT) was set up under HIMCAT in 2006 specifically as a platform for sharing experiences from Nepal on soil and water management and natural resource management in general. Contributors’ experiences are documented using the WOCAT tool, a format for recording information in a consistent and comparable manner for easy reference and understanding.
The NEPCAT network published a first set of fact sheets on SLM technologies and approaches in 2008 in the WOCAT format and inspired by WOCAT’s ‘where the land is greener’ overview book. The fact sheets were printed to facilitate sharing with a wider audience, as well as being made available online. They were designed to support the efforts of rural development, and to provide ideas for decision makers, development workers, and land users. The fact sheets were welcomed by many programmes and departments in Nepal and the wider Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Now a second set of sheets has been prepared in 2013 with more new and promising technological packages and SLM good practices that have been successfully implemented in Nepal and are suitable for replication and scaling up. In line with the increasing use of the Internet, these are all now being published online in a form suitable for printing out by the user.
The individual fact sheets suggest solutions for specific aspects of problems related to water, land degradation, and sustainable land management; separate fact sheets can be integrated to make a package of practices for a particular topic. For example, an overall approach to vegetable farming can be developed by referring to the fact sheets on grafting technology for stronger plants, polypit nurseries for raising healthy seedlings, poly house and plastic film technology to give a better environment for growth, different composting and urine application technologies to supply nutrients, different water harvesting technologies and technologies for efficient use of harvested water (drip, sprinkler irrigation), and organic pest management to minimize the risk of crop failure due to disease and pest attack.
The technologies which address the negative impact of extreme weather events are also dealt with in the fact sheets. Water scarcity issues for drinking and irrigation can be addressed implementing different water harvesting and management technologies like conservation ponds, rooftop rainwater harvesting, treadle pump, micro irrigation technologies. Soil loss from the sloping land due to excess rainfall/runoff can be addressed implementing the technologies like terracing, contour bunding and implementing hedgerow technology, and constructing low cost check dams; and stream bank erosion can be addressed by implementing vegetative (Salix planting, brushwood check dams ) and structural (stone spur). To increase the farm income of the slopping land KIWI fruit farming would be an appropriate option. Riverbed farming is another example, where, due to continuous encroachment and conversion of productive agricultural land to barren riverbeds and banks by annual flooding. About 8,000 hectares of such riverbed land can be used for agricultural cultivation.
The linkage through market mechanism between suppliers (producers) and buyers (market) is equally important to ensure land users that their products are sold. The Participatory market Chain approach (PMCA) can be useful for structuring participatory processes with involvement of different market chain actors to enhance rural poor smallholder vegetable farmers’ livelihood by increasing their income and capacitating them through development of coordination and linkages between smallholder producers and market chain actors.
In all cases, it is important to consider whether a described practice is appropriate for use in a particular environment. The factsheets indicate the characteristics of the area where the technology or approach was successfully implemented which can be used as a guide.
The NEPCAT experiences are compiled in this electronic database to facilitate sharing with a wider audience in Nepal and in other countries with similar climatic conditions in the Himalayan region. It is hoped that this initiative will grow as other institutions contribute fact sheets on promising technologies and approaches they have worked on. The aim is to enlarge the basket of options for natural resource management and encourage growth of an open loose network of institutions and organisations in Nepal to share information on their experiences with different technologies and related approaches. It is hoped that these options will also include farmers’ innovations and technologies based on indigenous knowledge.
NEPCAT fact sheets can also be accessible by subject areas from this link.
The fact sheets are the product of a collaborative effort among organizations and institutions working in the field of land management.