ILO and UNHCR Nepal collaborate in implementing market-based livelihood interventions for refugees and host communities in Koshi Province and Kathmandu

News | 15 December 2023
In Nepal, a cycle of workshops on the market systems interventions implemented in 2023 using the Approach to Inclusive Market Systems (AIMS) was organized by the ILO and UNHCR Nepal on November 30 and December 1 in Province 1 / Koshi Province and on December 5 in Kathmandu. The workshops had the participation of key stakeholders, including members of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) district chapter, cooperatives, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and refugees and host community members. The purpose of this cycle of workshops was to keep the engagement and joint efforts of local actors in the development of market systems to create livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities in Nepal, especially Bhutanese refugees in Koshi Province and urban refugees in Kathmandu.

AIMS workshop organized by ILO and UNHCR Nepal in Damak, in Koshi Province

The objective of the UNHCR Nepal-ILO collaboration is to implement interventions that foster the inclusion of refugees and host communities in local markets, and more broadly promote job opportunities that comply with the ILO’s decent work agenda and UNHCR’s protection standards. Based on ILO-UNHCR’s market assessment (2021/22) for refugee livelihoods in Province 1/ Koshi Province, the vegetable value chain was selected as one with the potential to create inclusive growth and employment opportunities for refugees and host communities. An analysis of the key constraints within this value chain culminated in the proposal of market-based interventions to address the root causes of the constraints and sustainably develop the market systems for the benefit of refugees and host communities.

Building on the market systems analysis, the ILO, with the support of UNHCR Nepal and national partners, and the active participation of ILO constituents (government, workers’, and employers’ organizations), implemented in the year 2023, over nine months, key market facilitation interventions that had been recommended by the findings of the market systems assessment. These targeted interventions have focused on improving market linkages and flows of information, resources, and support services between value chain actors to promote livelihood opportunities among refugees and host communities in the vegetable sector. The Project adopted a gender lens and had a particular emphasis on barriers to training and employment faced by female refugees and host community members, promoting a culture of female participation in the programme’s activities, and encouraging them to act as multipliers of change.

As part of the project’s activities, 60 refugees and host community farmers (33% women) in Koshi Province benefited from land lease, advisory support, a voucher programme to access better quality seeds and fertilizers, support for vegetable tunnel production and extension services, including a farmer field school training on commercial vegetable farming and marketing. Additionally, 20 local trainer candidates (3 refugees) were trained to deliver business management training using the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) methodology. As part of their certification cycle, these trainers trained 93 potential and existing entrepreneurs from refugees and host communities (60% women) using the Generate Your Business (GYB), Start Your Business (SYB) and Improve Your Business (IYB) training modules. The story of two Bhutanese refugee siblings, Arjun Pradhan (19 years old) and Matrika Pradhan (21 years old) who were supported in the context of the ILO-UNHCR Nepal collaboration can be read here.

In the workshops in Koshi Province, the progress and preliminary results of the project’s interventions were discussed and evaluated. In the workshop in Kathmandu, Potential market-based interventions to be implemented in Kathmandu were discussed and validated with LWF, UNHCR and the Nepal SIYB Association.