Getting more out of local knowledge

A series of public events put farmers at the heart of climate change discussions in Nepal.

A series of public events put farmers at the heart of climate change discussions in Nepal

Photos by Pawan Kumar
Photos by Pawan Kumar


The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is inviting farmers from some of Nepal’s most at-risk communities to add their voices to a series of public debates that could help shape the development of national policies on climate change adaptation.

The events include discussions on local and national radio, public film screenings, and workshops with farmers, scientists and policymakers. They will take place this November and December, with support from the CGIAR Research Programs on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).

According to the IWMI report, Climate change impacts and adaptation in Nepal, the country is highly vulnerable to climate change. Over 70% of the population is directly dependent on agriculture, and unpredictable monsoon rains along with increases in floods, droughts and other natural disasters are already affecting food production.

In the period 2008-2009, for example, a severe drought devastated wheat and barley yields, while floods from the following monsoon also destroyed crops. The report predicts that these extreme weather conditions will become more frequent due to climate change and smallholder farmers will have to bear the brunt.

“Policies and interventions for climate change adaptation will not be effective unless they address the question: why are poor farmers more vulnerable?” said Floriane Clement, Researcher – Institutional and Policy Analysis, IWMI and co-organizer of the dialogues. “In order to find out, it’s essential that we hear from farmers themselves. Only by combining their experiences and perceptions with those of scientists, can we develop ‘hybrid knowledge’ and more robust solutions.”

The series of debates stem from IWMI’s recent work to learn more about the issues affecting Nepali farmers, by equipping them to produce their own videos to document daily life. Groups of farmers from Dhanusa District were trained in film production to interview fellow community members on the challenges they face.

The Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) then filmed the responses of experts and policymakers after viewing these short documentaries. The footage was packaged into 20-minute episodes and broadcast weekly on national television from July to December 2013.

“In the films, farmers said they need better access to basic services and facilities such as reliable irrigation education, employment opportunities and markets,” said Clement. “They also want the opportunity to influence decision making at the local and national levels.”

“Reducing vulnerability requires an approach which understands the overall social, political and institutional context that shapes opportunities and constraints for men and women farmers to pursue and achieve what they value. That’s why it’s important that they are at the heart of the forthcoming discussions.”

The draft schedule for the events is as follows:

  1. Public screenings of the documentary, Connecting farmers’ voices to policies (compiled from short films directed by farmers last year), in local communities of Dhanusa District with Nepal Madhesh Foundation (NEMAF) (third week of October and first week of November).
  2. Radio roundtable discussion with experts, local stakeholders and farmers in Janakpur, Dhanusa District, with Panos South Asia (second week of November).
  3. Workshop with local stakeholders and farmers in Janakpur, Dhanusa District, with NEMAF (late November).
  4. Broadcast of the documentary on Kantipur Television, Nepal’s leading private television station (early December).
  5. Radio roundtable discussion with experts, national stakeholders and farmers in Kathmandu, with Panos South Asia (early December).
  6. A workshop with national stakeholders and farmers in Kathmandu, together with the Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS) (mid-December).

For more information about IWMI’s project on gender, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, and the participatory video project, visit

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