Collaborative effort for Green Economic Development in Nepal

Green Resilient Agricultural Productive Ecosystems (GRAPE), a co-financed development project in western Nepal, leverages the strengths of multiple partners to enhance its impact. The project intends to promote climate resilience in Nepal's western provinces by utilising the vast experience within the agriculture sector of various organisations. These collaborative partnerships are not only bolstering the project's efforts but also laying the groundwork for long-term collaboration for developing greener solutions in Nepal.

Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. Climate change has intensified extreme weather conditions causing harm to the agriculture sector of Nepal and the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on it. The GRAPE project aims to strengthen climate-resilient and green economic development in western Nepal, specifically Karnali, and Sudurpashchim provinces. GRAPE is co-financed by the EU, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. It is the first Team Europe approach showcasing EU and member state cooperation in Nepal. GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) is commissioned for the implementation of the project. The lead ministry is the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives, and Poverty Alleviation (MoLCPA).

GRAPE is based on partnerships. GIZ is the organisation ensuring collaboration between the partners and has the lead on project planning. The main partners of GRAPE during the whole project phase are the Natural Resource Institute of Finland (LUKE) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). In GRAPE, LUKE supports municipal planning and capacity building for universities, and ICIMOD has the lead on the action research part of the project. Other partners are non-governmental organisations and universities, which have their own areas of responsibility in the implementation of the project.

The advantages of partnerships are easily noticeable in GRAPE’s ongoing initiatives. Just one example from many is the recent Climate Field School session. In early August of 2023, training on climate-smart technologies was conducted for the farmers in Karnali Province. This training of trainers (ToT) aimed to equip representatives from farmer groups with knowledge of climate-smart technologies.    

One facilitator from each of the groups participated in the 5-day event. As an ensurer of GRAPE’s planning and implementation, GIZ was the organisation setting the framework for the outcomes of the Climate Field Schools and delegating the programme execution. GRAPE’s partner, FCA (Finn Church Aid), was responsible for identifying the functions needed and led the implementation to achieve the predefined goals. FCA, with another GRAPE partner, Rupantaran, conducted the training at the field level. Rupantaran arranged the venue with agricultural and livestock technicians who offered valuable basic knowledge to the facilitators. Meanwhile, FCA focused on the gender perspective and ensuring the participation of marginalised groups. The practical part of this session was held in CEAPRED’s research plot. CEAPRED’s involvement offered farmers a better understanding of the technologies and gained their motivation for the follow-up sessions of the Climate Field School programme. By combining the expertise of these organisations, GRAPE conducted training sessions that benefited from a wealth of knowledge provided by a diverse group of agriculture professionals. The training succeeded in being an effective learning experience for the farmers.

GRAPE builds transformative partnerships by fostering connections between NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and universities. Transitioning from transactional to transformative partnerships is carried out through various formats, such as partnership workshops, partners’ management meetings, and joint team meetings.

The project set up the GRAPE partnership platform, shifting from transactional to transformational partnerships with a focus on collaborative learning, planning, and networking. Additionally, FCA initiates a Community of Practice (CoP) for NGOs interested in strengthening CRA, accompanied by a training and coaching programme for female NGO members. This project’s uniqueness lies in its evolution from viewing partnerships with NGOs as tools for enhancing implementation capacities to making partnership building a primary outcome. GRAPE partners now collaborate through a programme-based approach, investing in building networks and collaborations that can extend well beyond the project’s implementation phase.

Joint learning and monitoring visits with the project’s partners offer an excellent way to build and utilise networks among partners while improving the programme’s field implementation. The first such visit took place in May 2023, covering the districts of Surkhet, Dailekh, and Bajura. Participants from various GRAPE partner organisations visited farmer groups practising climate-resilient agriculture, action research sites, and local governments. The visit provided an opportunity to exchange insights and knowledge gathered from diverse backgrounds, foster mutual learning, and ultimately improve the programme’s implementation. By end of 2023 three joint learning and monitoring visits have been conducted.

To achieve lasting improvement in the agricultural sector of Nepal, patient, long-term work is inevitable. Putting resources and effort into building partnerships can be particularly beneficial for a robust future of cooperation in the field. Functional partnerships are an excellent basis to build on not only for the next phase of GRAPE but also for other projects and collaborations in the agriculture sector of Nepal.

Alisa, an environmental engineering student from the University of Oulu in Finland, interned with the GRAPE project. With aspirations in the development sector, she cherished collaborating with diverse project partners during her internship.

Alisa, an environmental engineering student from the University of Oulu in Finland, interned with the GRAPE project. With aspirations in the development sector, she cherished collaborating with diverse project partners during her internship.