Finland's relations and development cooperation in Nepal

Finland’s development cooperation in Nepal improves the quality of education, access to clean drinking water and sanitation services, climate resilience and livelihood development, as well as gender equality and social inclusion. 

Nepalese school children washing their hands at the water pipes.

Water projects supported by Finland have brought clean water to 1.6 million people in Nepal. The water resources management project in Far-Western Nepal has already given more than 380,500 people access to drinking water. Schools have been equipped with toilets and water supply points, which helps to promote health and encourages more girls to attend school. Photo: Hanna Päivärinta / MFA

Nepal has made great strides towards democracy. The civil war, which had lasted for ten years, ended in 2006. The new constitution adopted in 2015 strengthened local governance and women’s participation in decision-making. However, the democracy remains fragile and governments change frequently. 

Even though there has been a substantial reduction in poverty in the recent decades, about one fifth of the population still lives in extreme poverty. Many people in Nepal are discriminated against on grounds of their gender, caste, ethnic background or the areas where they live. Nepal is a mountainous country, making it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate threats. 

Finland and Nepal have maintained close relations for many decades, with emphasis on development cooperation. Since the 1980s, Finland has supported Nepal in such areas as forestry, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and education. Together with the donor community, Finland supports Nepal to reach the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, and to become a middle-income country in the next few years.

The objectives of Finland’s comprehensive activities in Nepal are described in the Country Strategy and the Country Programme. The latter focuses on development cooperation. The key objectives of the Country Strategy for Nepal for the period 2021–2024 are reducing social inequalities, supporting sustainable development, and climate and disaster resilience. Another objective is to diversify political and economic cooperation between Finland and Nepal. 

Finland’s country strategy for Nepal 2021–2024 (PDF, 380 KB)(layout.types.url.description)

Outcomes of Finland’s development cooperation with Nepal in the period 2021–2024

In the period 2021–2024, Finland’s bilateral development cooperation with Nepal focuses on supporting an inclusive education system, and improving climate resilience and health through sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Development cooperation also strengthens regional livelihood development, gender equality and social inclusion. The planned support for Nepal is EUR 56 million in 2021–2024.

Finland’s development cooperation country programme in Nepal (PDF, 546 KB)(layout.types.url.description)

Finland's planned development cooperation appropriations for Nepal 2021-2024. Gender equality and social inclusion 5 million euros, education 28 million euros, water, sanitation, and climate resilience 23 million euros. Totalling 56 million euros.

During the previous programme period (2016–2019), Finland focused its support on access to clean water and sanitation services, development of education, and on improving the participation opportunities of women and vulnerable groups.

Finland's development cooperation in the education sector

Finnish development cooperation supports economic equality, improving a school system that promotes democracy, and inclusive education.

Expected outcomes: An inclusive education system that provides students with the necessary skills contributing to Nepal’s economic and democratic development

  • The quality and results of basic and secondary education will improve
  • Education will become more accessible, equitable and inclusive, and better consideration will be given to different needs of the students

Ongoing programmes and projects

  • Support to Nepal’s new School Education Sector Plan (SESP) in 2021–2030 is in its starting phase. Government of Nepal is planning to finance around 90% of the plan. Finland will be one of eight donors with a contribution of EUR 19 million between 2022 and 2026. 
  • Of the EUR 8 million under UNICEF's Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) 2018–2022, EUR 4 million will be targeted to the education sector to improve the quality and coverage of education.

Finland's development cooperation in WASH, climate resilience, and livelihood development

Finland will support the health of Nepalese communities and their ability to tackle climate threats by improving access to clean water and sanitation services, and livelihood development. 

Expected outcomes: The climate resilience and health of the communities will improve

  • The members of village communities will have access to more sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services
  • People will benefit from more sustainable livelihoods and value chains

Ongoing programmes and projects

  • Rural Village Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP III). Finland is providing EUR 15 million for the project between 2016 and 2022. The European Union is providing EUR 20 million euros for the project between 2016 and 2022.
  • Sustainable WASH for all (SUSWA). A bilateral WASH project in the remote Karnali province of Nepal, to be carried out between 2021 and 2025. Finnish contribution to the project is EUR 9 million. The European Union is planning to contribute EUR 10 million.
  • Green Resilient Agricultural Productive Ecosystems (GRAPE). The aim of the project, to be carried out in the Karnali and Far Western provinces between 2021 and 2024, is to achieve climate resilient green growth through value chains. The project is jointly funded by Finland, Germany and the European Union. Finland is contributing EUR 4 million to the project. 
  • Finnish-Nepali project for improved capability of the Government of Nepal to respond to the increased risks of natural disasters related to weather and climate between 2018 and 2022.  The project is implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and it has a budget of EUR 500,000.
  • Towards Arsenic Safe Drinking Water in Nepal between 2020 and 2023. The project is implemented by the Finnish Environment Institute and the Geological Survey of Finland and it has a budget of one million euros.
  • Of the EUR 8 million under UNICEF's Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) 2018–2022, EUR 4 million will be targeted to the water sector for water and sanitation.

Finland’s development cooperation in promoting gender equality and social inclusion

Finnish development cooperation supports the equal opportunities and well-being of women and girls, with a focus on women with disabilities and in vulnerable situation. Gender equality and social inclusion are also cross-cutting objectives in all development cooperation.

Expected outcomes: Enhanced social equality and prosperity of women and girls, including those with disability and in vulnerable situation

  • Women will gain more economic independence and become more active politically
  • Violence and cultural discrimination against women will decrease in both public spaces and in private life

Ongoing programmes and projects

  • Support for the country strategy of UN Women between 2018 and 2022. Finland is contributing EUR 4 million to the programme. The focus of the country strategy is on the development of administrative and legal mechanisms promoting inclusion, economic empowerment of women, decent work and better opportunities for participation. In 2020, additional funding of EUR 400,000 was granted for measurement of transformative change in social and cultural norms through storytelling.

Finland’s partners in Nepal

Finland operates in Nepal as a member of the European Union and the donor community. As an EU Member State, Finland participates in the dialogue with the Nepalese government encouraging the country to promote human rights and good governance. 

Finland also supports economic and social development in Nepal by providing funding for UN organisations and international development financing institutions. Finland also provides humanitarian aid on a needs basis and most of this assistance is channelled through UN humanitarian organisations and Finnish non-governmental organisations.

A large number of Finnish non-governmental organisations support social development in Nepal in cooperation with the country’s own civil society actors. The focus of the support is on such areas as education, health, rights of persons with disabilities, and better food security.

Team Finland cooperation

The aim of Team Finland in Nepal is to promote the image of Finland and to highlight Finland’s strengths.

Economic cooperation between Finland and Nepal remains modest. However, one promising example of commercial success is the Ncell company owned by Telia-Sonera, which has rapidly become the largest phone operator in Nepal. In the future, there may be commercial cooperation in innovative education solutions, renewable energy, hydropower and environmental technology. There is also potential in meteorology, information technology and urban planning.

Developing commercial and economic cooperation alongside traditional development cooperation is one of Finland’s key objectives in Nepal in the period 2021–2024. Development cooperation supports the achievement of this objective by improving such areas as the business environment.

Team Finland in Nepal