Mobilizing local institutions for sustainable management of watershed services in Nepal

2014 Winner

The main objective of the project is to scale up payments for a watershed services (PWS) system for sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resource in order to improve livelihoods of the rural poor in the mid-hills of Nepal.

Project Description

The major activities of the project include a context and stakeholder analysis in the Begnas watershed, which facilitates the formation of a PWS management mechanism. Furthermore, a collective vision and an outreach strategy for communicating ecological cause and effect linkages in a watershed are planned, thereby raising the awareness of development-ecology linkages and options for the sustainable management of watershed services among local stakeholders.

Project goal and impact

By 2016, local water sources should be preserved using equitable, benefit sharing approaches to PWS in the Begnas and Rupa lake watersheds in central Nepal.


The project will increase the perennial vegetation cover in the watershed landscape. This will reduce water runoff, siltation and water turbidity in the two target lakes as well as increase water retention in the soil and natural springs during the dry season. The population of aquatic species (fish and wetland birds) should therefore recover. All these impacts thus increase the potential delivery of ecosystem services from the upstream areas in the watershed.


The implementation of a PWS system will generate the resources for paying and delivering watershed services, led by a strong and local institution. The production and sale of organically produced fruits and vegetables on local and regional markets is expected to raise the incomes of local communities. The promotion of ecotourism and sustainable management of watershed services will increase rural employment opportunities.


Empowered and self-sustaining community groups will work together across sectors and with local, regional and national stakeholders to manage watershed services. The overall nutrition, health and education are expected to be improved. Furthermore, Awareness raising activities will lead to a new generation of ecologically conscious students, researchers and citizens. The increased social capital ensures a harmonious collective action on PWS between upstream and downstream communities.

Participation of the communities

The Lekhnath Municipality is involved in planning and co-funding conservation activities. The Fisheries Research Centre will provide technical support for the conservation of indigenous fish species. From the beginning, local communities from different parts of the Rupa watershed are involved in the planning process. They will be empowered to participate actively in developing a vision and implementing the strategy at both, grassroots and watershed levels.

Long-term viability

In Nepal, there are about 17,000 community forest user groups which are potential PES adopters to address water conflicts. The project will put a functioning PWS system in place. PWS is self-financing and provides incentives for conservation. It contributes to Lekhnath Municipality’s vision of a Biodiversity Heritage Area with rural ecotourism as a main product. Revenue will be generated through service charges on watershed services.

Information about the organization

LI-BIRD is a NGO, which aims to empower marginalized farmers by strengthening their capacity and local institutions. It promotes local innovations and demonstrates working models with a high scaling-up potential. It contributes to the development of innovative approaches in biodiversity conservation, sustainable natural resource and watershed management.

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Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD)
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Begnas and Rupa Lake Watersheds, Lekhnath Municipality, Kaski, Nepal
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Award year: 

Update February 2017

Multiple stakeholder partnerships for Sustainable Management of Begans and Rupa Watershed Services have been implemented. The proliferation of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in the Begnas lake has made fishing and boating difficult. Over 2000 locals representing nearly 50 local organization voluntarily contributed in weekly cleanups. A watershed management information and knowledge center has been built from collaborative cash and in-kind contribution from Government of Nepal, farmer groups, CBO’s and the project. Measures to control sediment and increase fruits and fodder species for productive landscapes have been improved. The development of a payment for watershed service mechanism is well under way and expected to be in operation by the end of 2017. A stakeholder dialog to facilitate the process is in place.

Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development
P.O. Box 324 Pokhara

Mr. Balaram Thapa, Executive Director