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FACES OF CHANGE - Enhancing ecosystem resilience and empowering women in Nepal

In Panchase region, overgrazed, unproductive grasslands and abandoned lands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, leaving them unsuitable for growing species of farmers’ choice and easily overpowered by invasive species.

These impacts both undermine the resilience of the Panchase mountain ecosystems and increase the vulnerability of local communities, whose livelihoods depend on services provided by these ecosystems. Women are closely affected by the changing climate, and are seeing increases in the time required to gather water, fodder and firewood.

Photographs by Andrea Egan.

To reduce these shocks and stresses from climatic variability and hazards, the Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Programme teamed up with the Panchase Women’s Network to support its Amriso plantation. Amriso is a plant with numerous benefits, and significant and untapped commercial potential. Its strong web-like rooting system also helps to reduce top- and sub-soil loss, particularly important with increasingly frequent intense rainfall events.

A single cluster of broom grass can provide enough material to produce 7 - 9 brooms per year, which results in an annual income of $6 USD per year per plant. Most of the participating women live on less than $1 a day, so harvesting from up to 100 plants each day can significantly enhance quality of life.

“The work we do is not a one or two day thing. It‘s long-term… and introducing an Amriso plantation in barren land can be incredibly profitable. I am looking forward to seeing Amriso covering these lands I call home and bringing barren and abandoned areas back to life.” Sabina AC, President, Panchase Women’s Network.

The Mountain EbA Programme also worked closely with local community organizations and district-level government institutions to provide training opportunities for the participating women.

“Typically in Nepal, be it in urban or rural areas, women are bound by household responsibilities - especially after getting married. Women are usually not allowed to go outside of the house, even to work. But this initiative has empowered women to the extent that now, we can all come out and work.” Yam Kumari Dhungana, Secretary, Panchase Women’s Network.

Since Amriso requires little maintenance and grows quickly, and takes minimal time and effort to cultivate, it is a good fit for the women’s demanding schedules and growing workloads.



The global Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in Mountains Programme is a partnership between UN Environment, UNDP and IUCN, with funding from the German Government (BMUB)’s International Climate Initiative. By using sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall EbA strategy, the Programme aims to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of fragile mountain ecosystems and their local communities to climate change impacts. The EbA measures carefully consider anticipated climate change impact trends to help communities continuously adapt to a changing climate and increasing uncertainty. This global partnership also involves national and regional government agencies, civil society and local communities in three countries (Uganda, Nepal and Peru).

«I was surprised by the fact that cultivating Amriso for commercial use has also been integral in creating a much stronger social bond between the women of the Panchase Women’s Network. This project not only created a climate-resilient livelihood opportunity, it also promoted social inclusion, while enhancing adaptive capacity» Andrea Egan

With a degree in International Relations and Human Rights from the University of Auckland, and a degree in Development Studies from Massey University, Andrea Egan has served as a Fellow at the Measurement and Human Rights Program at Harvard University. Her time there focused on climate change and human rights.


Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten largest mountains.

Ecosystem-based adaptation was used to improve water sources and quality in the Panchase region, benefiting 966 households and 4,995 people.

The project has helped to conserve more than 50 hectares of land in the Panchase area through land interventions such as river restoration and soil conservation.

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