The Swiss government has agreed to provide a grant assistance of over CHF 22 million (equivalent to around Rs 2.35 billion) to Nepal to implement two projects in the country.
Swiss ambassador to Nepal Urs Herren and finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments today for the assistance.
Out of the amount, CHF 3.1 million will be spent for improving the family nutrition and resilience of smallholders through the Home Garden Project while CHF 19.5 million will be put at disposal for the Local Roads Improvement Project, to maintain a total of over 3,000-km of existing district roads and make them operable year round.
Home garden project has a specific focus on the disadvantaged and marginal farm households to diversify their farm production for better dietary supplement and at the same time promote the local crops and varieties that are resilient to potential climate hazards.
Past collaboration with Nepal and with the Nepali organisation LIBIRD responsible for implementing previous phases has shown positive impacts on enhancing biodiversity and nutritional diversity of the project beneficiaries and, based on the external review recommendations, the project will scale-up its good practices in the new districts and phase out from the districts where Nepal has already integrated this programme in its regular extension services. The new phase is aimed to reach at least 40,000 marginal farm households in 20 districts in three districts from earlier phases and 17 new. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture Development/Vegetable Development Division, with some technical assistance support provided by a Nepali institution to be selected through an open tendering process.
Likewise, further to the current District Road Support Programme, which is ending in July 2014, the Local Road Improvement Programme is a new generation of road programme that will assist Nepal to maintain a total of over 3,000-km of existing district roads to make them operable year round. The project will improve the conditions of about 200-km of roads by upgrading or rehabilitating them, while for remotest districts like Khotang and Okhaldhunga, the programme will support the construction of about 100-km of new roads, the Swiss government press note said. “As a result, the programme is expected to generate some 2.5 million person/days of local employment, out of which 1.6 million person/days of employment will be targeted for disadvantaged groups.”
It will also help Nepal to establish strategies and operational guidelines – technical and social – appropriate for local roads maintenance, which can be scaled up and replicated widely.
In addition to the Swiss grant, Nepal will contribute with about CHF 11.32 million in four years for the programme. The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development will execute and implement the programme through the Department of Local Infrastructures Development and Agricultural Roads (DOLIDAR).