Nepal’s Approach to Climate Change Adaptation with Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPAs): A Water Resource Perspective (#487)

Nepal is particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts for a variety of environmental, social, and economic reasons. Average temperatures have been rising steadily since the 1970s. Most of the mountain ranges within Nepal are home to extensive glaciers which are experiencing widespread retreat. Glacial discharge in turn impacts the hydrological regimes of rivers downstream and causes rapid growth of glacial lakes; glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) are one of many climate change phenomena with the potential to pose extreme risk to populations, infrastructure, etc.


Nepal has been on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) list since 1971 and their National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) was submitted to UNFCC in 2010. Though Nepal was the 45th LDC to submit its NAPA, it has since become a pioneer in climate change adaptation planning. This is because, in 2011, it was the first LDC to issue a national framework on Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPAs) to strengthen and implement their NAPA prioritized adaptation actions. The Government of Nepal (GON) endorsed the National Climate Change Policy in 2011 that supports NAPA and LAPA implementation. The Policy specifies to "allocate at least 80% of available funds for field level climate change activities".

Action taken

Beginning in late 2015, JVS/GWP-Nepal began to design a study to further Nepal’s understanding of the relationship between its climate change adaptation priorities and water resource management. 101 of the LAPAs produced were reviewed to identify adaptation actions and associated budgets related to water resources. The report preparation also required extensive consultation with community members and government agencies. Each LAPA includes detailed descriptions of the largest threats faced by their locality due to climate change. The first approach of the study was to examine these identified threats. JVS/GWP-Nepal grouped these into 8 of the most commonly identified potential impacts.

JVS/GWP-Nepal next categorized all the water-related adaptation actions proposed in the reviewed LAPAs into 7 categories: infrastructure; community protection; water resource conservation and rainwater harvesting; agriculture; landslide and flood control; Indigenous knowledge and water mill; and capacity building. These 7 water-related adaptation action categories were used to further observe the budget allocated for each one

Lessons learnt

  • While it was discovered that adaptation actions related to water resources have already been given some priority, the focus on building water infrastructure may not be advantageous without adaptation actions focusing on capacity building as well.
  • Monitoring and evaluating national initiatives, as they are developed and implemented, can reveal useful information. Reviewing these initiatives from a broad perspective allows reflection to ultimately improve outcomes.
  • Strategic communication plans, which can for example include workshops and identification of key partners, should be paired with any study carrying important information in order to support evidence-based decision-making.
  • Non-governmental organizations and other third-party organizations can be used to provide a critical and objective review of governmental initiatives.