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ICIMOD partners with the World Food Programme to strengthen food security in the mountains

With the impact of temperature rise on water availability set to compound already high levels of food insecurity in the region, ICIMOD has partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) to protect vulnerable communities in the region.
Published: 03 May, 2024
⏲ 5 minutes Read

With the impact of temperature rise on water availability set to compound already high levels of food insecurity in the region, ICIMOD has partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) to protect vulnerable communities in the region.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed by both organisations on April 26 outlines areas for cooperation, including:

  • food security monitoring,
  • climate change and risk analysis,
  • capacity strengthening,
  • policy advocacy,
  • research and assessment,
  • development of information tools. 
signed the MoU
Dr Pema Gyamtsho, Director General of ICIMOD, and Mr. Robert Kasca, WFP Representative and Country Director to Nepal signed the MoU, which marks a pivotal step towards addressing challenges confronting the HKH region. Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD

ICIMOD’s 2023 HI-WISE report found that around one-third of people in the Hindu Kush Himalaya are food insecure, with half suffering from malnutrition. Children (under 5 years of age) and women are among the most nutrition-insecure groups.

WFP is the United Nations’ frontline agency in the global fight against hunger. It is mandated to provide emergency and development assistance to eradicate hunger and poverty amongst the poorest and most food-insecure countries and populations.  

significant milestone

Director General of ICIMOD Dr Pema Gyamtsho called the signing a “significant milestone”, saying, "It is imperative that we strengthen the resilience of the agriculture sector: through predictive tools like geospatial and earth observation technologies and the scaling of innovative approaches to mitigate risks, such as those from wildlife and pests. We are grateful for WFP's partnership, and we are committed to enhancing food production in mountain communities for a more secure future." 

Mr Robert Kasca

"WFP brings a vital social dimension to our collaboration, by identifying vulnerabilities within communities and empowering them”, said WFP Representative and Country Director to Nepal Mr. Robert Kasca. “Through a series of update reports, we are supporting the Government and partners in tracking food security and market trends to generate evidence for effective data-driven solutions to tackle hunger and malnutrition across the country. Leveraging ICIMOD's expertise in earth observation tools, we are trying to ensure nobody goes to bed hungry,” he added.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya is one of the most populous places in the planet. Water variability prompted by glacier melt and changes in snowfall is one of the most serious and immediate consequences of global temperature rise in the region, where 240 million live, and on whose waters billions more depend. 

Communities in the mountains and plains are already seeing falls in crop diversity, productivity and food security – declines which will be compounded in the coming decades by increasingly unpredictable water availability: due to shifts in precipitation, delayed or early snowfall or glacier and snowpack melt, erratic rain and snowfall, rising numbers of floods and droughts, and the drying up of springs.

ICIMOD has published landmark scientific assessments that provide evidence on the scale of the region’s vulnerability to these risks and works globally for a faster transition from dirty energy and for the scaling up and more rapid delivery of adaptation funding.

The centre also works with communities on the ground to co-design and scale up solutions to water challenges including protocols to revive springs; climate-smart water-management; novel, renewables-powered irrigation systems to ‘lift’ water up hillsides, and community-based early warning systems to reduce flood-damage.

The centre’s foresight experts, meanwhile, are analysing trends to support governments and communities to anticipate and adapt to rapid changes in water and food systems. 

Detailed areas of Collaboration

  1. Food Security Information and Monitoring: ICIMOD and WFP will collaborate to generate crucial data on agriculture and food security in Nepal, focusing on areas such as crop area and yield estimations. Tools developed through this partnership will facilitate the dissemination of data for informed decision-making.
  2. Climate Change and Risk Analysis: The partnership aims to analyze the impact of climate change-induced risks on agriculture, leveraging Earth Observation tools to assess climate and natural hazards' effects. This analysis will enable stakeholders to develop adaptive strategies to mitigate risks.
  3. Capacity Strengthening: Both organizations will support stakeholders through capacity-building initiatives, bridging gaps in scientific evidence, policies, and institutional capabilities. Strengthening capacities will enhance the region's resilience to environmental and socio-economic challenges.
  4. Policy Advocacy: ICIMOD and WFP will engage in joint science-based policy advocacy, focusing on climate change, agriculture, food security, nutrition, and emergency preparedness. This collaborative effort aims to influence policies for sustainable development and resilience-building.
  5. Research and Assessment: Collaborative research will be conducted on key areas such as weather forecast-based emergency preparedness and the linkages between indigenous crop production and school feeding programs. These insights will inform evidence-based interventions to address food security challenges.

Looking Ahead

As the collaboration between ICIMOD and WFP unfolds, it holds the promise of fostering sustainable solutions and collective efforts to ensure food security in Nepal, especially in the face of evolving global food security challenges. By combining expertise, resources, and a shared commitment to resilience-building, this partnership intends to make a meaningful impact on the lives of mountain communities, paving the way for a more sustainable and food-secure future.

Through concerted efforts and collaborative endeavors, ICIMOD and WFP are demonstrating the power of partnership in addressing complex challenges and advancing sustainable development goals. As we embark on this journey together, the focus remains steadfast on building resilience, ensuring food security, and empowering communities for a brighter tomorrow.


Partnership Specialist, ICIMOD

Digital Communications and Outreach Officer, ICIMOD


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