Renewable Energy Access for Livelihoods in Fragile Buffer Zones

October 29, 2020
A man sitting in front of a traditional cooking stove in Nepal

Conservation and livelihoods in fragile buffer zones

We are delighted to share details about another new project that has entered our Nepal portfolio, which is now in the project start up, site selection and feasibility study phase.

This project is one of our most ambitious and innovative to date. It focuses on conservation and livelihoods in the environmentally fragile northern buffer zones of Nepal’s Bardia and Banke National Parks.

The challenges of living within a buffer zone

REALiZe (Renewable Energy Access for Livelihoods in Fragile Buffer Zones) will work to address the struggles faced by communities living within these buffer zones. In these areas, little attention has been given to energy access, water, sustainable livelihoods or conservation education. Buffer zone governance is also in its infancy.

There are many challenges that come with living in protected areas such as these. Human-wildlife conflict is increasing, for example valuable livestock is taken by tigers, or crops are eaten by families of wild boars. In addition, restrictions are placed on how and when buffer zone communities can access forest products, which means that communities struggle to support their families.

A man sitting in front of a traditional cooking stove in Nepal

Providing access to a range of clean energy systems

Through this project we will work to improve the standards of living for over 8,000 people, by providing access to a range of clean energy systems. The systems will include a variety of different technologies: solar water pumping, improved cookstoves, and clean energy powered agro-processing equipment.

These systems are the critical first building blocks for communities to access water, reduce the quantity of firewood they need to collect from protected forests, and improve their capacity to generate an income through climate-smart agriculture and livestock rearing.

Through this project we will support communities to sustainably manage their fragile natural resources, as well as diversifying and strengthening livelihoods. Working with our new project partner, Li-Bird, we will help to establish climate-smart value chains centered on livestock and non-timber forest products, such as spices and fruit. To further improve the value of these crops, we will introduce renewable energy powered agro-processing units.

A close up of a Nepali woman

Buffer zone governance and an environmental education programme

In order to make sure these changes are sustainable, we will help communities to gain a louder voice and a real say in the management of the buffer zones and their environment. Finally, we will pilot an environmental education programme, which will nurture the next generation of conservationists. Our hope is that this programme could be replicated in school curriculums in any of the national park buffer zones that cover nearly a quarter of Nepal’s land.

REALiZe is being supported by Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA).