Finland's development cooperation in Nepal

Nepal is a fragile state, and one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. In Finland’s support to Nepal the focus is on access to clean drinking water and sanitation, developing education, and improving the influence of women and other groups that are in a vulnerable position.

Country Strategy for Development Cooperation Nepal 2016-2019 (PDF, 54 pages)

Infographic Nepal en

In recent years Nepal has succeeded in significantly reducing extreme poverty. The new Constitution adopted by the Parliament of Nepal in autumn 2015 is an important step forward in democracy development.However, inequality among the citizens is still a serious problem that slows down the development.

Finland has had development cooperation with Nepal since in 1983. Most of the Finnish projects are located in peripheral areas where there are few other helpers. Support is targeted especially to people who are in the weakest position.

Finland supports Nepal by a total of EUR 50 million in 2016-2019. In addition to this, support is to be allocated via the Finnish civil society organisations.

Commercial cooperation

So far, commercial cooperation between Finland and Nepal has been modest. Finland aims to raise Finnish companies' interest in the matter through Team Finland activities and to enhance the share of trade in development cooperation by taking advantage of the experiences gained and contacts built up through development cooperation.

Companies are encouraged to make use of various commercial and economic instruments and operators, such as Finnpartnership's matchmaking services and the Public Sector Investment Facility (PIF). The Finnish-Nepalese Alumni Association functions as an important channel of information and creates contacts between Nepalese and Finnish companies.

Cooperation by civil society organisations

Several Finnish civil society organisations are active in Nepal, including the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, FIDA, Finn Church Aid, Finnish Red Cross, Save the Children Finland and WWF. The budget for 2017 of the projects of the ten Finnish civil society organisation active in Nepal totalled EUR 1 million. In addition, foundations supporting development cooperation – Abilis, KIOS and Siemenpuu – support the local civil society organisations in Nepal.

The work of the civil society organisation is concerned with improving education, health, rights of the developmentally disabled and food security, as well as developing livelihoods and competence in various fields.


  • The first time when the same number of girls and boys had the chance to go to school was in 2013. Between 2009 and 2016 the access to basic education improved from 73% to 89%. Preschool has also become increasingly common: in 2009 only one out of three first graders had gone to preschool, while in 2016 two-thirds of them had a preschool background. In 2016 almost 70% of the pupils completed the basic education, which was 9% more than in 2013.
  • Finland's bilateral water projects provided 75 000 people with access to clean drinking water in 2017.  Over the years the water projects have contributed to organising a sustainable water supply to hundreds of thousands of Nepalese people, many of them living in very peripheral conditions. Walking to many isolated villages takes several days as there are no roads to follow.
  • Sanitation has spread very effectively in Nepal, which is considered to be the best performer in South Asia in this sector. When communities become aware of the benefits of toilets, they start to build them in homes and schools using their own funding - without Finnish or Nepalese tax resources. Nearly 98 % of Nepal was covered by sanitation in 2018 compared to 27 % in 2001.

Risk management

Operating in Nepal is highly sensitive to risks. The implementation of the new Constitution may lead to political unrest, as may the inequality between population groups.  The implementation of the new federal state system and lack of competence at the local level complicate the implementation and governance of the programmes.

Natural disasters are a significant risk: floods and landslides occur on an annual basis and earthquakes are to be expected.

The risks of development cooperation are managed by means of systematic monitoring of projects and programmes, strengthening the competence of Nepal in the management of finances, and dialogue with the partners and the country’s administration. The aim is also to improve the citizens’ opportunities to influence the country’s development.

Finland continues the efforts to integrate contingency planning and work on disaster risk reduction (DRR) into all programmes and activities in Nepal. The importance of climate change adaptation is stressed especially in the Finnish water and sanitation projects.

Finland’s support:

Improving access to water and sanitation

Rural Village Water Resources Management Project RVWRMP III in the Far West, Finland’s support EUR 15 million in 2016–2022. The EU supports the project in 20162022 with 20 million euros.

Developing the education system

The School Sector Development Plan, Finland’s support EUR 20 million in 2016–2020. There are nine contributors to the School Sector Development Plan, with the state of Nepal covering 90% of the programme’s funding

Support to the Ministry of Education of Nepal for developing curricula and teaching materials, Finland’s support EUR 1.7 million in 2016–2019.

Strengthening equality 

UN Women project Advancing Women's Economic Empowerment – Ensuring Nepal's Sustainable and Equitable Development, Finland’s support EUR 3.75 million in 2015–2017.

Other support

Finland supports the water, sanitation and hygiene and the education sectors of UNICEF's Country Programme Action Plan 2018–2022 (CPAP) by EUR 8 million in 2018–2022. The support will promote sustainable and equal development in Nepal by improving access to water and sanitation, upgrading the quality and coverage of education, and strengthening the position of women and girls.