he projects we highlight here are helping boost critical infrastructure, along with human capacity and social equality, in the fields of agriculture,

transportation, water / sanitation and tourism. They reflect a small portion of OFID’s total commitment to Nepal (which currently amounts to over US$265 million in public and private sector financing, as well as grants) and only select parts of a country so captivating we wish everyone could visit for themselves. We spent long hours traveling by road every

day, in part because this is often the best way to encounter local life which appeared as an endless flotilla of colorfully festooned trucks, extended families packed into hired vans, couples on motorbikes, singles on cycles, vendors hawking their wares, children walking to school and much more besides. But road travel was also the more reliable, if less expedient, way to ensure we would arrive on schedule. Nepal boasts an extensive network for domestic

air travel, which is particularly crucial in mountainous regions where many villages remain inaccessible by road. Pilots must, however, rely on visual navigation and depend on clear weather. Given the frequent occurrence of treacherous

fog, flights rarely take off as planned, are often cancelled at the last minute, and sometimes leave travelers stranded for days at a time. Traveling by road also enabled us to appreciate the country’s countless water-ways. Nepal holds more than two percent of the world’s fresh water reserves and its Himalayan mountain ranges are often referred to as the ‘water-towers of Asia’. Luckily, we arrived just prior to the onset of Monsoon season and its attendant downpours and floods. An estimated 80 percent of Nepal’s population has access to drinking water. However, the water is not always safe, as supplies are often polluted by untreated sewage or industrial waste, especially in the Kathmandu Valley where the development of urban infrastructure has not kept pace with rapid urbanization and unplanned growth. The Bagmati River, which traverses the

Kathmandu Valley, is revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, but worshippers performing traditional rites of purification risk contracting diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, gastroenteritis and cholera from its highly polluted waters. Improvements in this sector are particularly critical because only some 27 percent of the

population has access to basic sanitation. In rural areas, which are home to the vast majority of the country’s poor, people largely rely on local rivers for bathing and washing clothes. Agriculture is Nepal’s primary economic

sector, providing subsistence for some 80 percent of the population. The expansion of irrigation pipelines, better water management, and more environmentally-sound farming practices is key to enabling farmers to establish more sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.

“We have a gender and social inclusion component not just in central or provincial

government, but also at the local level, where we have significant female participation.”

Khim Bahadur Kunwar

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