Nepal has abundant water resources, but insufficient water-related infrastructure and limited capacity undermine development efforts and water security throughout the country. Climate change impacts and natural disasters compound these development challenges, particularly in rural communities. USAID Nepal’s broad portfolio of water-related activities in Nepal, including work on Multiple Use Systems, disaster risk management, biodiversity, and maternal health, presented an opportunity for increased integration. USAID Nepal’s Social, Environmental, and Economic Development (SEED) Office developed an Integrated Watershed Management Framework and partnered with the USAID-funded Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) to pilot implementation of the framework through the Integrated Watershed Management Activity (IWMA). IWMA’s objective was to improve water security through better coordination and integration of USAID Nepal’s Feed the Future, Environment and Resilience activities. IWMA aimed to improve coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among selected USAID-funded activities that focus on improving water security and sustainable watershed management.
During this two-year activity (2018 – 2020), IWMA collaborated with ten USAID Nepal implementing partners (IPs) carrying out water security-related projects in the Rangun Khola and Lower Karnali watersheds of the Mahakali and Karnali River Basins in Western Nepal, one of USAID Nepal’s priority geographies. Both watersheds have widely dispersed rural populations that depend on small-scale agriculture. The Lower Karnali watershed straddling Provinces 5, 6 and 7 has high agricultural productivity and the largest farmer-managed irrigation system in Nepal, but experiences landslides, riverbank erosion, sedimentation, and flooding. The Rangun Khola watershed in Province 7 is highly vulnerable to droughts and has significant water availability issues due to its topography and remoteness