Community-Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction in Nepal

Project Overview

The objective of this project is to reduce human and material losses from Glacier Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF) in Solukhumbu district and catastrophic flooding events in the Terai and Churia Range.

Occurrence of GLOF events is potentially increasing due to various factors, including climate change and the attention that has been paid towards reducing the risks posed by GLOFs in the Himalayan region is inadequate. The GLOF risk reduction efforts are mainly focused on structural, hydrological and geo-technical engineered interventions that have been undertaken in some of the places. There is a need to establish a holistic GLOF risk reduction and preparedness mechanism in the region. However, non-structural risk reduction measures such as appropriate early warning systems, awareness raising, coordinated preparedness and land use planning need to be developed and executed in areas affected by GLOFs. Hence, UNDP has initiated this project in order to reduce the risk of GLOFs by promoting community-based risk reduction approaches.

In addition, the project will also provide an opportunity for networking among practitioners from a range of disciplines, including climate change (CC), disaster risk management (DRM) and environment and development planning for more effective and enhanced knowledge sharing. The project will directly benefit communities and counterpart institutions working at local, national and regional levels on disaster risk management, land use and development planning and environment, water and energy management

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Project Details

Nepal is one of the most disaster-affected countries in the world and among the top ten countries that are most affected by climate-related hazards. Nepal’s economic and human development have been greatly constrained by the country’s mountainous terrain, lack of access to the sea and its high susceptibility to natural disasters, particularly floods, landslides, windstorms, hailstorms, earthquakes, forest fires, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and avalanches.

Climate change is projected to increase the severity and unpredictability of flooding and will also increase the risk of potentially catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in the High Mountains as glaciers retreat and glacial lakes expand. A recent report on Disaster Risk Reduction concluded that as climate change impacts increase, more than 1 million people in Nepal would become vulnerable to climate-induced disasters every year. The Government of Nepal is acutely aware of the growing problems the country faces due to existing and future climate-related hazards. However, there are a number of key barriers that must be overcome.

LDCF support will help the GON to overcome some of the key barriers to managing the growing risks of GLOFs in the High Mountains and flooding in the Tarai and Churia Range of southern Nepal through with a strong emphasis on community engagement, empowerment and social inclusion. At present, there is insufficient institutional knowledge and capacity to understand and manage GLOF risks, as they are highly complex, site-specific and too costly; and at the same time there lacks cohesion among different agencies to manage the risks associated with recurrent flooding in the Tarai in current on-going programmes.

The support will assess the gaps and help increase the institutional knowledge and capacity of the various stakeholders and also build the limited capacity and understanding among local communities regarding ways to reduce their vulnerability to GLOFs in the mountains and flooding in Tarai. It will improve information sharing and coordination at the central and local levels and among the various Ministries, Departments and non-governmental actors.  Under the first component, the project strategy for reducing GLOF risks arising from Imja Lake posing threat to local populations, material assets and tourists visiting Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park will have significantly reduced by reducing the lake volume through an artificial controlled drainage system combined with a community-based early warning system (CBEWS).

Under the second component, the project strategy for reducing human and material losses from recurrent flooding events in 4 flood prone districts (Mahottari, Siraha, Saptari and Udayapur) will have increased the adaptive capacity of local communities in eight VDCs of 3  river basins (Ratu, Khando, Gagan)  and two tributaries Hadiya and Kong through locally-appropriate structural and non-structural measures, including flood-proofed water and sanitation systems, a sediment control programme, river bank and slope stabilization and the implementation of CBEWS. The sediment control programme in Ratu river, the first of its kind in Nepal, will demonstrate the critical importance of managing upstream-downstream linkages in any riverine flood risk management programme.

Through this support, in addition to strengthening/building capacity of key local and national institutions and stakeholders to manage GLOF and lowland flood risks in Nepal; approximately 96,562 vulnerable people will be directly benefitted by these interventions.

Thematic Area: 
Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
The local communities in the Terai and Churia Range, and the Khumbu Valley.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Nepal
High Mountain Glacial Watershed Program
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Source of Funds Approval/Endorsement
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
$6,363,500 (as of April 2013)
Co-Financing Total: 
$16,110,000 (as of April 2013)

Key Results and Outputs

Outcome 1: Human and material losses from Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) events reduced

  • 1.1. Artificial lowering of the lake level in at least 1 hazardous glacier lake (such as Imja, Tsho Rolpa) through controlled drainage
  • 1.2. Strengthened connectivity of GLOF monitoring and early warning systems in at least 1 GLOF-prone district (such as Solokhumbu or Dolakha)
  • 1.3. All vulnerable communities in at least 1 GLOF-prone district(such as Solukhumbu or Dolakha) are trained in flood preparedness and GLOF risk mitigation

Outcome 2: Human and material losses from recurrent flooding events in 4 flood-prone districts of the Terai and Churia range reduced

  • 2.1. Stabilization of hazard-prone slopes and river banks in selected communities through bio-dykes and gabion embankments
  • 2.2. Flood-proofing of communal water supply and storage facilities in selected communities
  • 2.3.Strengthening structural integrity of drainage systems in selected communities 2.4. Flood preparedness training for district and VDC representatives, NGOs and CBOs in 4 flood-prone districts

Programme Meetings and Workshops


More information to come... 

Monitoring and Evaluation

UNDP will ensure the application of UNDP administrative and financial procedures for the use of LDCF funds. UNDP will ensure project monitoring and evaluation according to an agreed upon schedule and in line with UNDP and LDCF requirements, as described further in Section 6 of the Project Document (available here).

UNDP will assist in compiling lessons learned and sharing project experiences on a regional, national and international basis. Although the Project Executive Board has the overall quality assurance role of the project, project implementation will be supported through an additional assurance role performed by a designated UNDP Programme Officer/ Analyst. 


Anupa Lamichhane
Keti Chachibaia