Identifying Operational Mechanisms for the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Adaptation in Nepal

Author: Bimal Raj Regmi

Regmi, Bimal Raj, 2015 Identifying Operational Mechanisms for the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Adaptation in Nepal, Flinders University, School of Social and Policy Studies

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The main objective of this thesis is to identify the operational mechanisms for the mainstreaming of Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) to climate change into the development process in order to find out effective ways of supporting the most vulnerable households and communities. The thesis examines the effectiveness of current policies and programmes in: a) creating opportunities and ways to improve the “mainstreaming” of community-based adaptation into development planning; and b) providing benefit to vulnerable households and communities. The analysis examines the effectiveness of selected policies and programmes in Nepal using a case study methodology. This study used a mixed-methods approach incorporating field observations, interviews, and focus group discussions.

The findings show that most of the current policies and the policy-making processes in Nepal lack focus and priority on local participation. The analysis further reveal that although there are some decentralised policies of relevance, policies that favor decentralisation only, are not sufficient to mainstream CBA into the development process, because decision-making is still controlled and influenced from centre and mostly controlled by very few institutions and individuals at the local level. These findings show that in order to integrate CBA into the development process effectively, there is need to have an integrated and overarching policy which benefits poor and vulnerable households.

The case studies demonstrate that progress in the mainstreaming of community-based adaptation to climate change into the development process in Nepal has been very slow and fragmented. Although mainstreaming approaches have partly influenced the policies, implementation has been constrained by the use of approaches in isolation (top-down or bottom-up), and short-term project initiatives that are often disconnected and primarily donor- and project-driven. Implementation has also been constrained by the lack of adequate financial resources, low capacity among practitioners, inadequate knowledge about climate change, and a lack of collaboration among local and national institutions and actors. The findings suggest that an integrated, long-term, sustainable, and nationally-driven co-management approach to mainstreaming is necessary to overcome the current gaps in planning and implementation.

The analysis of the outcomes of mainstreaming at the local level found that adaptation interventions fail to address the real needs and interests of vulnerable households. This study does recognise that there are CBA approaches to the mainstreaming of local needs in the national plan and policies. However, the findings demonstrate that exclusion and inequality at the grassroots level deprives vulnerable households of the benefits arising from these adaptation initiatives. In addition, short-term community-based project initiatives for adaptation are not often sustained because of a lack of continuing technical support and financial resources. Mainstreaming of CBA can effectively empower local communities and vulnerable households, if: a) government and other public and private institutions are mobilised and made responsive; and b) grassroots institutions are more inclusive and accountable to the most vulnerable and poor households.

This thesis has also theorised a new framework. According to the framework, the operational mechanisms needed to effectively mainstream CBA into the development process include: citizen-centric policy processes; inclusive institutional and financial mechanisms; harmonised top-down and bottom-up approaches in planning and implementation; and multi-institutional coordination and collaboration. The framework proposed in this thesis can be used to redesign climate change and development policies and programmes in Nepal and other Least Developed Countries (LDCs), because it addresses inclusivity and governance issues in community-based adaptation to climate change.

Keywords: Climate change, Community-based adaptation, Mainstreaming, Nepal

Subject: Policy and Administration thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: School of Social and Policy Studies
Supervisor: Dr. Cassandra Star