Community-Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction in Nepal


The occurrence of glacier lake outburst flooding (GLOF) events in Nepal is potentially increasing due to various factors, including climate change.

With a focus on community-based risk reduction - and encompassing much-needed non-structural risk reduction measures such as early warning systems, awareness-raising, coordinated preparedness and land use planning - the objective of this project (2013-2017) was to reduce human and material losses from GLOF in Solukhumbu district and catastrophic flooding events in the Terai and Churia Range.  

This project has now closed. For it's final achievements, please refer to the 'Key Results and Outputs' tab.

For updates on UNDP Early Warning Systems and Climate Resilient Development projects, click here.

Project details

Nepal is one of the most disaster-affected countries in the world and among the top ten countries that are most affected by climate-related hazards. The country's economic and human development have been greatly constrained by mountainous terrain, lack of access to the sea and its high susceptibility to natural disasters, particularly floods, landslides, windstorms, hailstorms, earthquakes, forest fires, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and avalanches.

Climate change is projected to increase the severity and unpredictability of flooding and will also increase the risk of potentially catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in the high mountains as glaciers retreat and glacial lakes expand. A report on disaster risk reduction concluded that as climate change impacts increase, more than 1 million people in Nepal would become vulnerable to climate-induced disasters every year. The Government of Nepal is acutely aware of the growing problems the country faces due to existing and future climate-related hazards.

Under this project, support from the GEF-Least Developed Countries Fund helped the Government of Nepal to overcome some of the key barriers to managing the growing risks of GLOFs and flooding in the Tarai and Churia Range of southern Nepal with a strong emphasis on community engagement, empowerment and social inclusion. 

Thematic areas: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Key collaborators: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
The local communities in the Terai and Churia Range, and the Khumbu Valley.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Government of Nepal
High Mountain Glacial Watershed Program
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
$6,363,500 (as of April 2013)
Co-financing total: 
$16,110,000 (as of April 2013)

Key results and outputs

Final project results - December 2018

Successfully completed the world’s highest altitude climate adaptation project at the Imja Glacier lake, which included installing a community-based disaster risk reduction system and lowering the water levels. Over 90,000 people downstream are made safer with this project

Lowered the water level of one of the most dangerous glacial lakes, Imja, by 3.4 meters, reducing the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF). The lake was 148m deep in 2015.

Installed an automated and community-based early warning and response system  

Installed automated early warning sirens in six prime settlements downstream from Imja lake 

Installed another 18 Community Based Early Warning Systems along 50 km of river banks downstream from Imja lake (Dudh Koshi River)

Institutionalized a disaster response system by training the local community at risk and government officials on GLOF risks and ways to respond in case of any disaster 

Trained 38 officials from line agencies and stakeholders on GLOF risk management

Formed and built the capacity of 12 Taskforces (including first aid, search and rescue, and response) in high risk settlements

Conducted Train the Trainer (ToT) on GLOF risk management, producing 20 Local Resource Persons ready to act on GLOF risk management and during any disaster

Developed a ToT manual on GLOF risk reduction

Conducted 3 trainings on First Aid, Light Search and Rescue and Community Based Early Warning Systems for 149 taskforce members, local resources persons & local youths

Conducted 19 mock drill events involving 920 community members, taskforce members and local resources persons

Equipped taskforces with Light Search and Rescue, first aid and community-based early warning system equipment for high mountainous regions

Constructed 14.3 km embankment with gabion revetment and bioengineering in some of the most vulnerable river basins, reducing risks of flood and minimizing damage in the event of flood in the southern plains

Supported local communities at risks in the southern plains to take flood risk mitigation measures to build their resilience to floods/monsoon  

Constructed or rehabilitated a total of 7.4 km flood proofing drainage system in Nainhi, Mahottari & Pipara in Siraha in the southern plains of Nepal

Constructed and handed over 35 elevated tube wells to flood-prone communities downstream in the southern plains to increase communities’ access to potable drinking water during monsoon/flood season

Operationalized 3 safe evacuation centers to provide safe shelter to vulnerable communities during floods and other disasters

Operationalized 15 Community Based Early Warning Systems (CBEWS) in target river basins to reduce flood risks

UNDP forged a partnership with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to pilot test a community-based flood early warning systems in Ratu River

Developed and disseminated Sediment Monitoring Protocols for collecting and analyzing sediment data from Churia originating river systems, to help the Government to design risk mitigation measures

Collected sediment samples from targeted river systems during the monsoons of 2014, 2015 and 2016 

8 Disaster Risk Management committees 35 local DRM committees formed, capacitated and mobilized in accordance with standard guidelines




Averting climate change risks from glacial melting in the Himalaya

Climate change is causing Himalayan glaciers to melt at an alarming rate. Nepal has successfully drained part of a glacial lake near Mount Qomulangma, averting risk of disastrous flooding for thousands of local residents.

Presentation from the Local Project Appraisal Committee Meeting - Nepal LDCF Project -10 April 2013

This short presentation is from the Local Project Appraisal Committee Meeting - Nepal LDCF Project -10 April 2013.

Monitoring and evaluation

UNDP ensures the application of UNDP administrative and financial procedures for the use of LDCF funds. UNDP ensures project monitoring and evaluation according to an agreed upon schedule and in line with UNDP and LDCF requirements, as described in Section 6 of the Project Document (available here).

UNDP assists in compiling lessons learned and sharing project experiences on a regional, national and international basis. Although the Project Executive Board has the overall quality assurance role of the project, project implementation is supported through an additional assurance role performed by a designated UNDP Programme Officer/ Analyst. 


Anupa Lamichhane
CO Focal Point
Keti Chachibaia
Regional Technical Advisor