Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in local government
We're helping to make Nepal more resilient by putting the needs of underrepresented groups at the heart of every local government decision.
ICF's delivery of the UK Aid technical assistance program, Nepal Urban Resilience Programme (NURP), focuses on embedding Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) considerations into every aspect of development and growth.
Through NURP, we’ve integrated GESI actions into the Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Development (GRID) approach we've taken in the country since 2021. GRID is a framework developed by the World Bank to aid in national level comprehensive reform with the end goals of promoting economic growth and eradicating poverty. The World Bank identified GRID as the only approach that would enable developing countries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while aligning with environmental goals and inclusion. The Government of Nepal adopted the GRID approach to development with its endorsement of the Kathmandu Declaration In 2021. A key part of NURP's approach to GRID is ensuring that Nepal mainstreams GESI considerations into any work that local governments carry out.
Prior to our engagement, the local governments viewed any action around GESI as merely a women’s issue and irrelevant in wider planning and budgeting. Actions that focused on women, vulnerable groups, or inclusion would often be directed to local social development teams, as they were one of the few teams in Nepalese local government with female representation. Other areas, such as urban development and planning, were failing to build GESI considerations into their project decisions.
To counter this siloed approach, we take a twin-track approach that combines 1) mainstreaming GESI across all NURP activities, and 2) targeted actions to directly support women and marginalized groups’ empowerment. We co-create solutions with stakeholders that embed GESI considerations from the start. Our aim is to raise awareness that any decision making must consider the needs and opportunities of different groups. For example, we encourage stakeholders to look at who benefits from siting an infrastructure investment in one location versus another. These considerations should be applied to every solution in local government—changing the perception that GESI is only a matter for social development teams.
“In managing NURP, we take a twin-track approach that embeds GESI considerations into mainstream thinking and delivers positive impact.”
Our experts work with local governments to consider the GESI implications of decisions in areas across planning, budgeting, preparation, implementation, monitoring, and learning. We also engage stakeholders, such as planning and environmental units, on targeted GESI actions that ensure municipal and federal level interventions better consider and respond to the needs and interests of all citizens. Then we support local governments to apply GESI-responsive budgeting to their fiscal planning and program budgeting processes. NURP's support helps to make sure that funds are allocated equitably, such as to support gender-responsive initiatives.
To support GRID planning, we created a NURP GESI Commitment document that lays out the importance of GESI and its relationship with achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. We also provide stakeholders with guidance to ensure that their program promotes GESI principles. We created “Advancing GESI: A Guide for NURP Municipalities” specifically tailored to support Nepalese local government officials in applying the GESI principals, tools, and approaches NURP has introduced throughout its direct support activities.
Our team has been successful at finding entry points where GESI can be integrated into all local government activities. By making sure that priority actions directly target the most marginalized groups, including women, we've built the capacity of municipal stakeholders around the topic of inclusive development. As a result, the three local governments supported by NURP have demonstrated an understanding of the importance of the GRID concept and adopted it in their annual budget and program formulation process.
GRID-aligned projects and initiatives were included in each municipality’s Annual Policy and Programme of FY 2022/2023. We’ve seen an encouraging rise in terms of GRID-aligned budgets—and increased positive attitudes towards these initiatives across Nepal. This demonstrates the significance of capacity building in improving green growth and mainstreaming GESI considerations.
budget increase for GRID-related initiatives vs. previous fiscal year, in Pokhara Metropolitan City
budget increase for GRID-related initiatives vs. previous fiscal year, in Janakpurdham
budget increase for GRID-related initiatives vs. previous fiscal year, in Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City
Crucially, the increase in budgets corresponds to areas where NURP has directly identified, designed, and promoted projects over the past four years. Our support has had a tangible impact in the following areas:
- Disaster risk reduction/management (DRR/M)
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Environment protection or low carbon emission
- Renewable energy
- Waste management
- Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI)