Finland's relations and development cooperation in Nepal

By engaging in development cooperation with Nepal, Finland helps the Asian country to improve its quality of education, expand access to clean drinking water and sanitation services, and enhance social equality.

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 260,000 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. Finland has supported Nepal in such areas as forestry, water management and education since the 1980s. In cooperation with other donors, Finland is helping Nepal to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and to become a medium-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, in which the focus is on development cooperation. The key objectives of the country strategy for the period 2021–2024 are as follows: reducing social inequality and supporting sustainable development, climate resilience, disaster preparedness and disaster recovery. The aim is also to diversify and promote the political and economic relations between Finland and Nepal. 

Finland’s country strategy for Nepal 2021–2024 (PDF)(Link to another website.)

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 will focus on improving water management and sanitation services and supporting the education sector. All projects will also promote gender equality and social inclusion. Nepal will receive a total of EUR 56 million in aid from Finland between 2021 and 2024.

Finland’s development cooperation country programme in Nepal (PDF)(Link to another website.)

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 economic and political participation of women and vulnerable groups.

Development cooperation between Finland and Nepal in the education sector

With its development cooperation, Finland helps Nepal to develop a school system promoting economic equality and democracy, and inclusive education.

Expected outcomes: The quality and results of education will improve and education will become more inclusive

  • 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

Ongoing programmes and projects

  • Support to Nepal’s School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) Nine donors are involved in the SSDP and more than 90% of the funding comes from the Nepalese government. Finland is contributing EUR 22.5 million to the programme between 2016 and 2021. Support for the programme period 2021–2030 is in the planning stage.
  • Technical cooperation in the Nepalese education sector (TECSES). The project will help to enhance the quality of education, especially at the provincial and local level, and will have a budget of five million euros in the period 2022–2025. 
  • Of the EUR 8 million in aid 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.

Development cooperation between Finland and Nepal in water management and sanitation services

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

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

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

Ongoing programmes and projects

  • Rural Village Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP)  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 water management and sanitation services for all (Sustainable WASH for All). A water management and sanitation project in the remote Karnali province of Nepal, to be carried out between 2021 and 2025. 
  • Green and strong west (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. The project is jointly funded by Finland, Germany and the European Union. Finland is contributing EUR 4 million to the project. 
  • Developing Nepal’s weather, climate and early-warning services between 2018 and 2021. The project is implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and it has a budget of EUR 500,000.
  • Reducing the use of drinking water with high arsenic content 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 in aid 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 promoting gender equality

In its development cooperation, Finland supports the equal opportunities and well-being of women and girls, with a focus on women with disabilities and vulnerabilities. In addition to being a separate result area, gender equality and inclusion are also cross-cutting objectives in other result areas.

Expected outcomes: The social rights and status of women (including women with disabilities and vulnerabilities) will improve

  • 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.

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 intellectual 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 goals in Nepal in the period 2021–2024. Development cooperation supports the achievement of this goal by improving such areas as the business operating environment. 

Team Finland in Nepal