International Satoyama Intiative

IPSI, the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative, promotes collaboration in the conservation and restoration of sustainable human-influenced natural environments (Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes: SEPLS) through broader global recognition of their value.

Governance at Community Level for Conserving Himalayan Lake Rupa in Kaski District of Nepal

SUBMITTED ORGANISATION : International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC)
  • Group:Water
REGION : Southern Asia
COUNTRY : Nepal (Kaski District)
Google map: Google Map link to region
SUMMARY : Governance of Himalayan lakes conservation in Nepal follows a long history from forest conservation to biodiversity conservation, wetlands conservation and then to lake conservation with formal establishment of National Lake Conservation Development Committee (2006). Prior to this committee, the communities had been effectively involved to conserve lakes in different parts of Nepal. Rupa lake conservation is one of the best examples of lake governance in Kaski district emerged and strengthened under small grant initiative of UNDP/GEF/SGP Nepal. Based on ‘observed first and then act’; communities of Rupa lake basin have been organized under the umbrella of a cooperative to address issues of lake. Cooperative builds capacity of its household members and provides incentives for conservation education, afforestation, fodder plantation, bioengineering, animal husbandry, apiculture, NTFPs and so on. Rupa was about to disappear some years before is now under cooperative management which also generates ample resources that have been distributed to improve lake environment as well as livelihoods of people in up-and-down stream of the basin. Successful replication of lake governance of Rupa would help addressing issues of other Himalayan lakes in and beyond Nepal. This article explains how communities in Rupa were able to strengthen their lake governance to restore lake environment and improve livelihoods.
KEYWORD : Conservation, Cooperative, Governance, Himalayan lakes, Livelihoods
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  1. Background

The Himalayan lakes refer to all lakes that are fed either directly or indirectly with water outsourced from the Himalaya irrespective to any shapes and sizes of lakes in varying geography in Nepal (Pokharel and Nakamura 2011). ‘Governance’ is the act of governing which relates to consistent management, cohesive policy, guidance, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. This also refers to physical exercise of management power and policy (Wikipedia, 2011). Analogous to these texts,  lake governance here denotes to an approach for achieving sustainable management of lakes through gradual, continuous and holistic improvement of basin governance, including sustained efforts for integration of institutional responsibilities, policy directions, stakeholder participation, scientific and traditional knowledge, technological possibilities, and funding prospects and constraints (ILEC, 2007).

Safeguarding Himalayan lakes in Nepal strictly follows a history from forest conservation to biodiversity conservation, and then to wetlands conservation guided by the National Wetlands Policy (2003). Lake governance eventually stands in Nepal with the government response to National Wetlands Policy through the National Lake Conservation Development Committee (NLCDC) formed as a capsule of the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture in 2006. NLCDC has been working with Japan based institutions like International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC) and the Sustainability and Environment since 2006 for implementing Integrated Lake (lentic/lotic) Basin Management (ILBM). The provision of NLCDC is an official stand of the Government of Nepal towards ‘lake governance’. However, there are many evidences of lake conservation the communities had been governing in Nepal prior of NLCDC.

There are 5,358 Himalayan lakes in Nepal. This article aims to explain about ‘Emerging Lake Governance’ in one of these Himalayan lakes in Rupa area that how communities had been successfully demonstrating ‘lake conservation’ that eventually created win-win situation for up-and-down stream communities, and also restored lake environment. Replication of this model would help demonstrating ILBM implementation to address issues of Himalayan lakes that ultimately contributes to biodiversity conservation, food security and livelihoods.


  1. Rupa Lake Basin Environment

Rupa is a small advancing eutrophic lake that falls in 4 VDCs and wards 10 and 11 of Lekhnath Municipality in Kaski district of Nepal (28008’39.72”N and 84006’29.29”E). It covers an area of 115 ha with marshes and paddy field along its shores in its basin of 30 km2. Lake area represents humid upper tropical and lower subtropical climate with mean annual temperature 19.30C and precipitation 3,157 mm.

Betani, Libiyani, Syaglung, Tal Bensi, Majhi Gaon, and Devithan in the north, Panchbhaiya and Sundare Danda in east, Bhangara and Jamunkune Gaon in west and Talpari in the south are major settlements.  A total of 49,749 (CBS 2058) people resides in the basin areas with its 47 percent comprising to male and 53 percent to female. By ethnicity, 28.8 percent are Janajati, 53.5percent Brahmin-Cheetri, 14.5 percent occupational caste and 3.2 percent others. The major occupation is subsistence agriculture. A very low percent of population are engaged in small business and hotel operation. The major occupation is subsistence agriculture (Oli, 1996).

There are 8 main vegetation types with 379 genera and 128 families that comprise 128 tree species and 85 herbs and shrubs that comprises to 25 endangered, 13 threatened, 5 rare and 2 vulnerable species of wetlands plants. Lake is a hotspot of a native of wild rice i.e., Oryza nivara.  Species of 2 toads and 4 frogs; 14 reptiles, 104 birds including 14 migratory birds and 34 mammals also are known to occur here. Of birds, 90 species are endemic (Oli, 1996).

Initially, lake area was bigger than what it looks like these days. Over 60 percent of lake area has been lost (IUCN, 1996) which is also evident from an elderly response of local people  respond that lake was 215 ha in 1964 which now has been reduced to 115 ha by 2000 (Erica 2007).

There are no measures yet practiced to minimize high sediment inputs fed by Talbesi, Dovan and Khurlung Kholas and other streams. Further, two temporary roads in east and west are under construction with the use of heavy machines that also has fasten the process of sedimentation into the lake.  As a result, there exist visible proofs of uncertified and intensive agriculture extension and emergence of new settlements and local bazars along shorelines (See yellow circles in the photo and location map in page 3).

Table 1 presents physical characteristics of lake water system. Free CO2, Chloride, BOD and total solid in lake water is higher than WHO prescription. Phosphorus in outlet is also higher.

Table 1: Physico-chemical characters of Rupa lake
S.N. Parameters Sampling site WHO Guidelines Remarks
Inlet Center Outlet
1 Temperature 17.5 18 19
2 pH 7.5 7.4 7.6 6.5-8.5 Within range
3 Conductivity 060 058 065 20-30ms/cm Higher
4 Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L) 8.1 8.1 6.488 5mg/L Meets WHO value
5 Total alkalinity (mg/L) 40 50 50 20-200mg/L Within range
a Hydroxide alkalinity (mg/L) 0 0 0
b Carbonate alkalinity (mg/L) 0 0 0
c Bicarbonate alkalinity (mg/L) 40 50 50
6 Total hardness (as CaCO3, mg/L) 14 16 16 <75mg/L Soft
a Calcium hardness (as CaCO3, mg/L) 6 8 10
b Magnesium hardness (as CaCO3, mg/L) 8 8 6
7 Free CO2 (mg/L) 30.8 35.2 35.5 <10mg/L Higher
8 Chloride (mg/L) 17.04 18.46 21.3 <10mg/L in natural water Much higher
9 BOD (mg/L) 243.24 405.40 162.16 50mg/L Much higher
10 Total solids (mg/L) 600 400 3600 500mg/L Much higher
11 Total phosphorus (mg/L) 0.0123 0.0190 0.0822 .02mg/L Within range  except outlet
12 Ammonia (NH3-N) (mg/L) 0.0235 0.0218 0.0253 1.5mg/L Very less
13 Nitrate (mg/L) 3.012 0.4786 0.6317 50mg/L Very less
14 Iron (mg/L) 0.4204 0.5922 0.5235 0.3mg/L Higher

Deforestation in Rupa watersheds follow a history of construction of Highway that connects Pokhara with capital of Nepal i.e., Kathmandu during 1960s and subsequent urbanization at lake basin areas at the cost of denudation of forest. Deforestation became very intense during 1970-1979. The denudation process continued to accelerate until it reached its peak during the referendum in Nepal in 1992.

Major urban settlements are found rapidly expanding like Sundare Danda; Talbesibazar; Dihibazar and Bhangara.  There are no interventions adopted to regulate domestic disposals, used water, overflow and seepage from septic tanks and latrines.


  1. Community Response to Degrading Lake Environment

3.1 Care Nepal Project

            Care Nepal had a project with the specific objective of improving environment of Begnas-Rupa watersheds for 18 years. The major objective of this project was to minimize siltation in Begnas lake to maximize benefits from irrigation canal with a construction of earthen dam in the south.

This project particularly prepared communities for bioengineering, environmentally friendly agriculture and income generating programs in the upstream of Begans-Rupa watersheds. Since, Begnas was a top priority of project, environment of Rupa lake was given a little attention. Care Nepal project successfully delivered good results to improve environmental condition of Begnas lake basin but not in Rupa lake. Rupa looked like disregarded until 1988.

During monsoon, flood in upstream rivers washed down heavily with tons of fishes. Downstream community had cost-free fish harvest up to 1,500 kg a day. This phenomenon continued to happen for 3 months during monsoon season. This way, most of our fishes swept down from lake. At that time, people did not have normal habit to consume fish in their diet, so fish had no cash value. Further, elephant grass is a fast growing species which was gradually invading shorelines of Rupa lake, and causing invasion process rapid every year. Further, heavy loads of silt carried by upstream rivers; deforestation in the surrounding; subsistence agricultural practice; use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and construction of road networks in the basin of Rupa lake had multiple impacts like gradual loss of core  lake area and water pollution (Source: Communication with Ramchandra Sapkota, President, LRFC, 2011) .

Some leaders and lake lovers were worried of degrading lake condition of Rupa. At the same moment, Fishery Research Center (FRC) helped local people to understand about the value of lake and fishery resource. They understood that better lake conditions would pay people with good fish harvest in Rupa area may have a little cash value but greater value if sold in Pokhara. Through training, FRC was successful to mobilize 31 households for ‘enclosure fishing’. It seemed that all those households did not have strong motivation for enclosure fishing, so there was a gradual drop out up to 3 households until 1990. At the end, these 3 households sold all gears and equipments of enclosure fishing facilities at a nominal rate of Rs 0.3 million to a contractor (current values US $ 3,750).

3.2 Observe First & then Act

            People do remember to the Japanese volunteer named Wada who assisted communities not to quit their ideas of fish farming.  He developed a scheme of ‘cage culture’. In this scheme, people had an opportunity to buy fingerlings in a cheap price with a condition that they’d to free 10 percent of fingerlings they bought into lake. Only some households were motivated in the beginning for cage culture. Once cage culture started reaping profitable fish harvest; other people started replicating cage culture by following a process of ‘observe first & then act’. Eventually, this helped people practicing ‘cage culture’ as a means of making earn and increasing fish population in lake; but core lake area was continue to shrink down which motivated communities of Rupa lake basin to lead “Save Rupa Movement”.

3.3 ‘Save Rupa” Movement

            Some activists were much worried about degrading lake condition of Rupa lake. They initiated an informal movement called ‘Save Rupa’ in 1993. Under this movement, activists were successful to influence community, school children and government personnel through public meeting, procession and lobbying. This movement could not last much, but helped community to understand the values of lake. As a result, some section of the communities started to do fishery by damming in different parts of lake. Such community actions had good learning from fishery but physical environment of lake was still least concerned issue as tragedy of commons.

3.4 Cooperative as an Answer to Biodiversity Conservation and Lake Environment

            It was a coincidence that very much worried communities of Rupa lake basin had opportunity to work with a local NGO entitled Local Initiative for Agriculture Biodiversity Research and Development (LiBird). LiBird was in a process of community registration of biodiversity.  Through training, workshop and study tour, LiBird assisted communities to realize about the strength of community solidarity to address issues of conservation and development, and also to understand about core values of Rapa lake in term of wetlands biodiversity, hydrology, religio-culture, socio-economy and livelihoods.  Consequently, communities agreed to organize themselves to restore lake environment. As a result, Biodiversity Resource Conservation Movement Organization (BRCMO) was evolved out as a government registered NGOs with its 3 satellites cooperatives in 2001 (Figure 1) namely Rupa Lake Restoration and Fishery Cooperative (RLRFC), Pratigya Cooperative (PC) and Farmers to Farmers Cooperative (FFC).

BRCMO is an umbrella body that coordinates and monitors activities of 3 cooperatives and their members. It has its secretariat in Sudare Danda which separates Begnas and Rupa lakes. Its organogram consists of a president, secretary, treasurer and 8 members elected by general assembly with mandatory representation from each cooperative. BRMCO has basically administrative roles and also builds capacity of its member institutions through training, workshop, study tour and financial support. It manages a trust fund of Rs 0.8 million. BRMCO has assisted its cooperative members for better livelihoods through rational distribution of this fund (Box 1).

PC has 43 household members (HHs) of wards 10 and 11 of Lekhnath Municipality, and aims to improve lake environment of Rupa and Begnas. This cooperative facilitates activities by direct linkages with wetlands conservation through promotion of pro-environment agriculture and horticulture practices in partnership with the Lekhnath Municipality. This also promotes NTFPs in Rupa lake basin and manages seed bank of plants. FFC has 23 HH members of Rupakot, Majhthana, Hanspur, Thumki and Bhachauk VDCs. This cooperative carries out activities that contribute to lake environment by managing forest products, NTFPs, bee farming, animal husbandry and so on. RLRFC by name itself is a cooperative committed to restore physical and biodiversity conditions of Rupa lake through fish farming and other conservation activities. This is the largest cooperative in Rupa with over 700 HH members.

RLRFC has direct and primary objective of improving lake environment followed by secondary focus to fishery these days. Hence, this article hereafter takes the cases of RLRFC as governance at community level and how has it been rewarding lake environment and livelihoods of communities by consolidating participation among up and down stream communities.

  1. Lake Governance at Community Level Painful but Rewarding Process

Community level lake governance in Rupa did not evolve suddenly. It passed through a series of steps starting from ignorance to acceptance levels by the communities. For example, communities had difficulty to find natural linkages between fish and lake. An advent of monsoon and loss of fish clicked first at ‘ignorance’ level of communities’ thinking. Secondly, elephant grasses invading Rupa lake was next phenomenon let communities realized that their lake was being invaded. Thirdly, silt carry by upstream rivers and soil erosion from construction of road networks accelerated the process of siltation altogether made lake shrinked by 60% from its natural size. Once community observed that their lake is disappearing, some people were worried of lake environment and let ‘Save Rupa Movement’ go for protecting lake.

LiBird at this moment intervened in Rupa lake basin.  After a strong mobilization process, 36 households from wards 10, 11 and 14 of Lekhnath Municipality and Rupakot VDC-1 agreed to be the member of RLRFC. Each household had individual share of Rs. 5,000 and member fee of Rs. 100 as an entrance. However, there was difficulty to bring Jalahari*[1] into the system of cooperative (Box 2).

A code of conduct was prepared, discussed and agreed to retain as much as water possible into the lake, biodiversity conservation and fish production. In 2002, cooperative made a total income of Rs 0.4 million which was far less that what was invested. First return of cooperative was not encouraging, though cooperative remained reactive and continued its efforts of biodiversity conservation and fish production again. Persistent functioning of RLRFC for lake biodiversity and fish production had strong linkages with PC for agriculture farming and fruit production with the use of bio-fertilizer and FFC for animal husbandry, apiculture, NTFPs and forest products. Activities like removal of tall grasses, afforestation, control over uses of lake resources, use of bio-fertilizers and so on were collectively practiced which helped retaining water level in lake as well as increased fish production. Eventually, cooperative governance proved rewarding to all after 2004*[2]. Once communities realized that conservation really pays, other started later to push pressure looking like they are competing claim for cooperative to be shareholders Others’ concern was internalized by the management of cooperative, and opportunity to them as shareholders was unanimously granted. As a result, the members of RLRFC have increased to 728 by 2011. The present trends indicate that this member list would go much higher in the future.

4.1 Governance at Community Restoring Rupa Lake

            The prime objective of RLRFC was fish production. With a notion of fish production sustains well when lake environment sustains well, the cooperative reformed its objective of also to improve lake environment. It has agreement with DDC to manage Rupa lake. Since then, communities have adopted practices that enriched environmental quality of lake basin. Greenery in basin is now improved due to management of community forest and afforestation. Water retention in lakes is increased. Tall grasses infesting lake shores are manually removed.  Encroachment for agriculture practice and settlements has been gradually decreasing. Governance at community has influenced local government like Lekhnath Municipality to undertake lake centered development program (Box 3). “If we’ve not intervened in Rupa, it would have been an example of lake-death in Nepal to this date. What we have not yet succeeded is reverting siltation phenomenon that upstream rivers annually discharge into Rupa which probably require heavy engineering works with effective technology and modern devices” says Ramchandra Sapkota. He pledged, “We look forward to outsiders helping us for desilting our lake and restore lake environment for our prosperity. We put our full energy to participate in this process”.

4.2 Governance at Community Innovated Conservation Practices for Lake Biodiversity

            Communities have innovated approaches to conserve biodiversity in 6 blocks of floral and faunal species for water birds, white lotus, Narkat, wild rice, Otters and local Sahar fish. The conservation blocks provide wilderness habitats swamp ecosystem as community-managed in situ gene banks. Women group in Sundare Danda are managing Orchids block with 33 species separately.

Inventories and community biodiversity registration have successfully documented 69 species of wetland dependant plants, 22 species of indigenous fishes, 11 species of improved variety of fishes, 36 species of water birds, and 24 species of wetland dependant reptiles in lake area (Regmi et. al., 2008).

4.3 Governance at Community Enhanced Economy

            Communities are organized as groups under the cooperative and engaged in different economic activities (Box 4). There are 7 groups for goat farming, 6 groups for apiculture and 4 groups for vegetable farming that have generated Rs. 391,600; Rs. 269,513 and Rs. 71,350 respectively from goat, apiculture and vegetable farming in 2011 (Source: Puspa subedi, president, BRCMO).  Fish production alone made an income of over Rs. 7.5 million in 2011. Further, communities have been able to enhance their economy from the use of lake resources like Kamlagotti (seeds) and Kokre (stolen part) of white lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) that were considered as unwanted materials later communities identified to retain medicinal values and have greater economic values. Once they knew that white lotus has high economic value, they prepared management plan of white lotus conservation block and conservation. As a result, from 2007 they have been selling lotus seed*[3].  Similarly, Simalkande*[4] as edible plant part is becoming popular source of income. The cooperative is now preparing community based sustainable harvesting plan for Simalkande and trying communities and groups for commercial conservation of it. Rupa cooperative has used the solar drying techniques to add value on local fish, packaged it and sold to local market. Cooperative made approx. $ 1,500 in 2007 due to value addition on fish product (Regmi et. al, 2008).

4.4 Governance at Community Linked Successfully Up-and-Down Stream Issue

            Environment Payment System (EPS) was initiated in Rupa area from 2002. For this, cooperative allocated 10% of fund from its net income of fishery. Payment mechanism is practiced in cash, community contribution, capacity building and collaborative activities. With this fund, attention is given to support the conservation and income generation activities basically targeted to poor, resource dependent, vulnerable communities of lake basin.

Cooperative realized even more about the importance of up-and-downstream issues when it started making good profit of Rs. 1.4 million in 2004 from fishery. Upstream community had less to do directly to water body of lake but they’d key stake to regulate basin environment. Hence, upstream community*[5] demanded for their equal share in RLRFC with a provision that they would adopt environmentally friendly agriculture, animal husbandry, bioengineering and CF management including afforestation (See right. Source: Regmi et al., 2008) without mainstreaming the interests of upstream community, improving lake environment in downstream was impossible so impossible to reap sustainable fish harvest. RLRFC therefore had a win-win decision to include upstream community in its shareholders’ list. As a result, 36 HHs members in 2001 increased by 329 HHs in 2004 and then to 728 HH members in 2007. Other indirect beneficiaries include >1,300 HHs (Pokharel, 2009).

There are some positive outcomes resulted from effective linkages of up-and-downstream community. For instance, a special wing of the cooperative was formed i.e., Women Groups (WGs). These groups sustain micro-credit through cash contribution by group members on monthly basis. WGs are also involved in conserving biodiversity in up-and-downstream. For example, Unnatisil WG and other women groups are involved in conserving habitat of water birds and their breeding places.  Similarly, they have developed informal norms for harvesting and utilization of wetland resources. Group charges Rs 10-20 for each bundle of grass people cut for different uses. WGs with youth club have been managing ‘Green Belt’ around  lake with plantation of fodder trees, grasses, fruits and ornamental plants as buffer to check direct siltation and human encroachment in lake. Cooperative provides scholarship to students for study, and cash incentives to CFs for forest management in upstream of the basin. Such kind of practices have induced positive impacts to improve basin environment by enhancing participation of various audiences in plantation, conservation block management, green belt development and so on.

4.5 Governance at Community Soliciting Participation

            With support of other institutions, RLRFC has been able to develop participatory protocols among institution and practice them. Concerns of stakeholders are internalized by integrating issues like gender, social exclusion, ethnicity, social equity, environmental governance, social justice, transparency, geography and so on. As a result, farmers, youth, students and women are brought organized under cooperative network for lake biodiversity; agriculture; horticulture and NTFPs. Members are actively involved in organizing environmental fair, conservation actions and livelihood programs like manure management and compost making; sustainable farming practices; Insect Pest Management (IPM); bio-fertilizer pesticide making; seasonal vegetable seeds, fodders and grasses farming; adult education and so on.

4.6 Governance at Community Strengthening Information and Awareness

            In Rupa lake, a cooperative run information center is functional. This center has low cost documentation of community resources and is managing a wetland museum, conference hall and library where communities discuss, review and share information about lake management. Here, community organizes training and meetings, generate and disseminate awareness materials. This center also provides opportunity to observe and know diversity of wetland flora and fauna among the school children, communities, visitors, researchers and other development workers. The centre is preparing an electronic database on wetland resources, aquarium of indigenous fish diversity, living garden of floral diversity, specimen of wetland resources, photographs, paintings, posters, video documentary and traditional museum of fishing technology by indigenous fisher communities around the lake.

Further, communities also observe conservation festive like the World Environment and Wetlands Days every year with the participation of school children, teachers, women, government and non-government institution (–world-wetlands-day-2007-21118/main/ramsar/1-63-78%5E21118_4000_0__). Annapurna FM – a local radio – airs “Samrakcchan*[6]” bulletin every Saturday on lake issues. Similarly, diverse levels of communities receive information through the Journal of Wetlands, brochure, flyers and other publication. LiBird through projects helped community organizing the Mud-Fair – an event to pay due respect to wetlands when monsoon starts feeding farmlands to enrich rain water for paddy cultivation.

4.7 Governance at Community for Sustainable Financing Mechanism

            RLRFC has set up a sustainable financing mechanism for conserving Rupa lake. This mechanism annually allocates certain percentage of benefit that the RLRFC makes for the management of lake. In 2008, the cooperative had cash input worth of US $ 1500 in demarcating lake area and manual removal of aquatic weeds. The Lekhnath Municipality annually contributes funds under its environment improvement program to conserve Rupa and Begnas lakes. For 2011, Rs 2 million is allocated for lake management by the municipality. Community Trust Fund and Wetlands Trust Fund with over Rs 1 million are in full operation which is seed funds of the cooperative established with the support of small grant of UNDP/GEF Small Grants Program through Action in Mountain Community (AMC) and LiBird. These funds are utilized as revolving fund for IGAs. A protocol has been developed for the appropriate use of these funds for improving lake environment as a binding principle communities should adopt in their day-to-day actions. For example, any HH member if agrees to use these funds should plant 25 seedlings of fodder species and 10 NTFPs in their farmland in lake basin area so that those planted materials produce adequate supply materials for livestock and livelihoods of people. “UNDP/GEF/SGP support extended to community groups of Rupa in different periods of time has been rationally used to sustain conservation efforts” says Gopal Sherchan, National Program Coordinator of UNDP/GEF/SGP “Communities are capable enough to demonstrate their skills to generate conservation impacts if opportunity is given to them. Small grant is proven like a token to them that sparks like a lightening to change dynamics of conservation and community livelihoods”.

4.8 District Level Lake Governance: Proactive Wetlands Conservation in Kaski District

            Rupa lake is so outstanding in terms of biodiversity and the roles it play for improving livelihoods, UNDP Nepal under GEF/SGP extended its supports to strengthen community for safeguarding wetlands of Kaski district. As a result, DDC Kaski established District Wetlands Coordination Committee as a reflective example of local government as determined as to undertake wetlands conservation jointly with different partners. This initiative was also instrumental to build the capacity of RLRFC to link conservation and development. DDC Kaski has one cell in district secretariat to coordinate all wetlands activities with allocation of government resources, deputation of a focal person and recruiting AMC – a local NGO facilitator – for providing technical support to DDC and RLRFC. Wetlands Academy also has been established under the umbrella of RLRFC where communities, local leaders, students and government people are being trained.

  1. Conclusion

Lake governance in Nepal is gradually evolving with a formal establishment of NLCDC in 2006. However,  lake governance at community level has been observed successful in many places like Rupa lake of Kaski district under the support of UNDP/SGP. Such support has high gravity learning that lake governance at community takes longer time to advanced out effectively which has been demonstrated by the functioning a community cooperative i.e., RLRFC. This cooperative has all 6 pillars (institution, policy, participation, information, technology and finance) of lake governance that ILBM has envisioned. Cooperative stands as ‘institution’. It has its own protocol as grass-root ‘policy’. Local participation is very strong as ‘participation’ pillar. ‘Information’ and ‘finance’ mechanisms are very prominent, though ‘technology’ pillar in Rupa is still customary. Communities in Rupa lake basin has demonstrated a visible example that Himalayan lake environment could be restored if governance pillars are promoted and strengthened. Replication of such governance with necessary modification would help restoring basin environment of Himalayan lakes to contribute to livelihoods.


            We greatly acknowledge Prof. Dr.Nakamura Masahisa who provided us guidelines for developing a learning story from community managed wetlands of the Kaski district focusing on Rupa lake conservation program. A great honor goes to Mr. Gopal Serchan to continue community support through UNDP/GEF/SGP for generating such a demonstrable impact and the advice he extended during preparation of this learning document. NLCDC is always instrumental to facilitate the process while establishing and strengthening local wetlands governance based on ILBM. Similarly, we express our deep gratitude to them who are directly or indirectly involved in providing their responses during documentation of this learning. Some are:

Mr. Narayan Gywali, chief executive officer of Lekhnath Municipality;

Mr. Rammani Adhikari, deputy chief executive officer of Lekhnath Municipality;

Mr. Ramchandra Sapkota, president of RLRFC;

Ms. Ganga Gurung, executive member of RLRFC;

Ms. Puspa Subedi, president of BRMCO;

Mr. Dhubaraj Chalishe, member of Executive Board of NLCDC;

Mr. Khagaraj Adhikari, former Chairman of NLCDC and former Member of Parliament;

Ms. Indrakala Baral, President of AMC Nepal; and

Mr. Puspa Koirala, support officer of AMC Nepal


Erica Udas (2007): Strengthening community Based Conservation Approach for Sustainable Management of Rupa Lake Ecosystem. Project Report.  RSG 35.07.06. 2007.

ILEC, 2007.  Integrated Lake Basin Management: An Introduction. International Lake Environment Committee Foundation: Kusatsu, Japan.

Pokharel, Shailendra (2009). Community Safeguarding Lakes of Nepal:  A Case of Rupa Lake  in  the Pokhara Valley of the Kaski District of Mid-West Region, Nepal. Lake Brief from distribution materials of ILBM-G review Meeting. Kusatsu, Japan. 2009.

Pokharel, Shailendra and Nakamura Masahisa (2011). Emerging Governance for the Sustainable Conservation of Himalayan Lakes of Nepal. Power Point presentation in South Asian Lake Session of the 14th World Lake Conference held in Austin, Texas, USA. October 30-November 4, 2011.

Regmi, Bimal; Gandhiv Kafle; Achyut Adhikari; Abishkar Subedi; Rojee Suwal and Indra Paudel (2008). Towards an Innovative Approach to Integrated Wetland Management in Nepal. Unpublished Report LIBIRD. 2008.

*[1] Jalahari is ethnic group that solely depends on lake resources mainly fish. Jala in Sanskrit language is water and Aahari means food.

*[2] From 2004, cooperative gradually made benefits of Rs. 1.4 million followed by Rs. 2.5 million in 2005, Rs. 3.5 million in 2006, Rs. 4.5 million in 2007 and over Rs. 5 million in 2008. In 2011, the benefit was over 7 million.

[3] In 2007, communities sold 25kg of lotus seed at the rate of Rs 400 per kg. Production of seed is getting their afterwards.

[4] Simalkande is tuber of Trapa species.

[5] There are 1610 HHs in Hansapur and Majthana VDCs alone in upstream where as 1006 HHs are at downstream in Lekhnath Municipality 10 and 11.

[6]Samrakcchan’ is a Nepali word that stands for ‘conservation’ in the English.