FEATURE: The story behind Nepal’s knowledge management centre
Dr Dinesh Raj Bhuju, Dr Bimala Devkota and Mr Pawan K Neupane look back at how a CDKN project strengthened the core functions of the Nepal Climate Change Knowledge Management Centre (NCCKMC)
The birth of the Nepal Climate Change Knowledge Management Centre (NCCKMC) was the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) process. The Government of Nepal recognised that an effective knowledge management system for climate change was an essential ingredient of better policy-making. There is an active research and NGO community in Nepal, but the excellent research and work they carry out is often not visible or known by policy-makers. As such a centre which housed all this evidence, plus detailed the efforts of Government, to facilitate the link between research and policy, was envisioned.
In 2010, the NCCKMC was inaugurated at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). A team of us were engaged to arrange the appropriate hardware, collect relevant documents and coordinate with stakeholders. The major challenge we had during the time was sustainable management of the centre. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment approached CDKN with a request to support the centre, build its capacity and ensure it has a long-term future. CDKN generously accepted the request and signed an agreement to undertake an intense one-year project which focused on strengthening our ability to provide services to the climate change and development community in Nepal – policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, students, the media, and the general public.
Today, we are in a much stronger position thanks to this support. The following are among some of things we achieved during this project that we are most proud of:
Motivating new research on climate change
The centre is housed within one of Nepal’s leading academic institutes, but it still remains a challenge to reach and connect with the academic community. Research on climate change is happening in Nepal, but mainly just by a small group of experts. It is not something universities tend to teach or promote. To help strengthen our links to researchers and build our local capacity, we provided a small grant to 25 young researchers to generate scientific knowledge on climate change and its impacts on various aspects including livelihood of the mountain people. The interest in this competitive grant went beyond our expectations. We selected those proposals which would help fill the ‘blind spots’ on how climate change is affecting our mountain areas and those which we thought would contribute to the policy-making process.
The young researchers were mentored and supervised by university faculties and experts including those from abroad along with a week-long training on research methodology for developing high quality research outcomes. One of the applicants, Mr.Bhuwan KC, Master’s degree student of Rural Development in Patan Multiple Campus told us that Climate Change Research Grant was a noble program, which should be continued.
This initiative demonstrated that we do not only just house information, but also generate it. We are thankful that through the PPCR process we look likely to be able to continue and expand this research programme.
Building the next generation of climate change leaders
After participating in Mobile Library Campaign for Climate Change Awareness, Ms. Kumari Suwal, a student of grade nine in Shree Jung HSS, Panchthar district, said that she and her friends came to understand the basics of climate change and its impacts and suggested to prolong the duration of the campaign. Similarly, Mr. Matrika P Bhattarai, Principal of Bhanu Jana Higher Secondary School, Taplejung district, stated that the reason behind the unprecedented changes they are seeing at Fungling, their locality and Mount Kanchanjungha, sacred Himalaya, has been revealed.
NCCKMC organised the campaign targeting students and teachers at community schools in 10 remote districts of Nepal. In pursuit of sensitising the young minds on issues related to climate change, the challenge was to develop concise and portable related materials. We displayed the self explanatory posters and short-films in simple Nepali language. We also organised inter-school climate change quizzes and panel discussion on local FM radios. The interaction between experts with students, teachers and policy makers helped to make the campaign effective. As there was high demand of the posters, NCCKMC reproduced handy sized posters and distributed to the schools for wider use.
Connecting policy-makers to researchers
The policy dialogues organised at national and regional level brought together policymakers for an exchange of experiences and responses to the realities of climate change and sensitised the policy makers and major stakeholders on the multifaceted impacts of climate change. Those held outside the capital, Kathmandu were particularly exciting as it is rare that the debate reaches these areas. Local officials and policy-makers were able to contribute and learn. We used the Nepal climate online portal and national and local media to help disseminate the outputs to wider stakeholders.
Most of the impacts of climate change are visible in the rural high altitude area of Nepal. However, these areas are remote and difficult to access meaning there is a gap in the evidence on climate change. The communities in these areas are extremely vulnerable and most in need of information on how to adapt to the impacts. This poses a challenge to the NCCKMC. How to reach these areas, report back to the policy-makers as well as provide information to the affected communities. We are confident that by working with the Government, academic institutes and civil societies we can meet this challenge.
We can concentrate on the next challenge because we are stronger now, and our future more secure. The core activities of the NCCKMC have been internalised in NAST’s annual program. We also now have long-term support from other international agencies. The support from CDKN to strengthen the centre at the very beginning of its establishment is much acknowledged as it continues to help Nepal’s endeavour to tackle climate change.
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Picture courtesy of NAST