Together We Stand for Sustainable Lifestyles

Climate Adaptive Demonstration of Water and Soil Conservation for Nutritional Feed Production in the Gandaki River Basin, Nepal

Salient Features:
– Demonstration sites in three districts of the Gandaki River Basin, Nepal (Dhading, Syangja and Kapilvastu) have been established
– Seeds of cereal and legume forages have been sown in the demonstration sites
– Experimental plots under both drip irrigation (treatment) and traditional irrigation (controlled) have been set up in the three sites
– Women are participating in prototype rainwater harvesting and in composting using animal manure and crop residues. Compost will then be used at on-site kitchen gardens enabling improved food security and nutrition at home
– Automatic weather stations (AWS) will be established in three sites in the near future in cooperation with the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Government of Nepal and Department of Meteorology, Tribhuvan University to better understand the interactions between climate, feed production, and nutritional status.
Climate change is affecting multiple aspects of livelihood for smallholder farmers and herders in Nepal. The quality and the quantity of forage and fodder for livestock are degrading. Weather extremes and disasters result in animal stress, insufficient animal feed, and promotion of various livestock diseases.

Farmers in Dhading sowing the forage seed in drip irrigation system. Three climate adaptation demonstration sites have been established in the three project districts representing different elevations in the Gandaki River Basin, Western Development Region, Nepal. Two types of irrigation system, drip irrigation and the traditional piping irrigation system have been successfully installed in plots at all three project districts for a comparison study. Two types of forage seeds (legume [cowpea] and cereal [Teocenti] varieties) have been sown under each irrigation system to study their relative yields and contributions to soil and water conservation. The demonstration sites also include a rainwater harvesting system using plastic ponds, kitchen gardening plots, and composting systems for nutrient recycling. Each demonstration site is intended to be the nucleus for a complete resource centre and a focus for community involvement in the research and development of climate resilience solutions.

Smallholder farmers from around each demonstration site are being trained in the drip irrigation and the cultivation of improved forage varieties. Farmers have been provided with seeds of both forage types for testing and reproducing in their own lands for the next year. This will facilitate scaling up of technologies found to be useful as well as adoption of the forage and irrigation varieties that prove most promising for building resilience.
Women in Kapilvastu sowing the forage seed in drip irrigation system. Lack of education and knowledge holds up the adoption of appropriate technologies for increasing resilience to climate variability and change in rural areas, particularly among smallholders. The demonstration sites begun here are intended to catalyse the testing and uptake of adaptation methods through training and capacity building that involves farmers directly.

The Small Earth Nepal and City University of New York have pursued the establishment of demonstration sites in close cooperation with Nepal Department of Livestock Services (DoLS). District Livestock Service Officers and other staff members and DoLS representatives participated in setting up the field sites. The district level government line agencies also gave their full support to the project activities.

The project incorporates four major components:
1. Hydro climate aspect: The analysis of the past and the future climate of the three districts, with an emphasis on the risk of extreme, high-impact, events, will be integrated into the study through participatory vulnerability assessment (PVA) and community-based surveys of the impacts of climate extremes combined with climate data from field observations and from remote sensing
2. Livestock disease and nutrition aspect: Community focus groups and surveys will map prevailing diseases in livestock and any connection of their severity with climate. Additionally, forage biomass productivity and animal health and milk production variation will be analyzed at communities in the three districts to suggest strategies for improving nutritional and economic security
3. Livestock-livelihood and gender aspect: The economic status of smallholders will be studied using the metrics of the IPCC Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI-IPCC). The feasibility and effectiveness of micro-financing and community organizing for improving economic security will also be explored under this aspect
4. Water and soil conservation aspect: Soil analysis around the demonstration sites will help support decisions for which forage species can be effectively planted where. The economic and environmental feasibility for micro irrigation techniques will also be analysed in a comparative study of drip and traditional irrigation systems.

For the accomplishment of these project aims in the selected districts, four students from diverse background have been selected who will be supported by the project and also will be working on their university theses. The selected students – Mr. Parasuram Bhandari (CDES, TU); Ms. Rachana Dev (IAAS, TU); Mr. Razan Malla (IAAS, TU) and Ms. Saluna Pokhrel (IAAS, TU) – will be working under the supervision of the research experts involved in this project.
The project aims to disseminate knowledge about the climate change and adaptation strategies at the grass root levels to improve smallholders’ lifestyle and economic status, with a particular focus on women and marginalized groups. Collected data will be disaggregated by demographics to better understand the impact of extreme conditions and the feasibility of various adaptation measures specifically for women and marginalized groups. Trainings will be held in conjunction with selected village organizations for widening the reach of technical and logistical assistance at implementing climate resilience-building measures that promote long-term adaptation to specifically include and empower women and marginalized groups. Examples of such measures include small-scale rainwater harvesting and storage, alternate water supply for livestock, soil-building through crop rotation and diversification, and agroforestry, as well as network-building measures such as community-based micro-insurance and microfinance, mutual aid in building sturdy animal shelters and water tanks, and accessing markets and extension services. During the second year of the project, a national level workshop will be organized to share the climate trend mapping work with stakeholders including government ministries, universities, and NGOs and to arrange for cross-disciplinary training of researchers and graduate students in Nepal in applying and further developing the techniques found to be effective.

This is a project of The Small Earth Nepal (SEN) and City University of New York (CUNY) with the support of Management Support Services P. Ltd. (MASS) and Colorado State University (CSU). The whole project is being supported by the award “Adaptation for Climate Change by Livestock Smallholders in Gandaki River Basin” from the USAID Livestock-Climate Change Collaborative Research Support Program (LCC CRSP) at Colorado State University (CSU) to CUNY, with the Principal Investigator Prof Nir Krakauer (CUNY) and Prof Ajay Jha (CSU). This project is undertaken in collaboration with the Government of Nepal, DHM, DoLS, Agriculture and Forestry University, and Tribhuvan University. The project was started from August 2012 with an inception workshop among the wider stakeholders and it’s initial field visit was organized in October/November 2012.