Karnali Livelihood Empowerment Program (KLEP)

For over 10 years, KLEP has facilitated the assertion of food sovereignty and the rights of women, Dalits and indigenous persons in the province of Karnali.


KLEP supports the socio-economic development of vulnerable individuals and their communities by combining the reinforcement of their livelihoods with the assertion of their rights. The program is tailored to meet the needs of women, Dalits and indigenous persons living in remote areas of Karnali. 

CAED does not adhere to the view that development is achieved through the long-term receipt of aid and material resources from outside of the community. Instead, KLEP uses a bottom-up approach that harnesses local human and social capital to ensure sustainable socio-economic development for entire communities.



In order to achieve its objectives, KLEP conducts a number of core activities aimed at community engagement and empowerment. 

Trainings and workshops are regularly convened among large groups of beneficiaries to give them the knowledge and skills needed to assert their rights and food sovereignty. As part of this education and awareness-raising component of the program, demonstrations of agricultural techniques are often organized. During these demonstrations, KLEP seeks to ensure that indigenous plant species are used to the greatest extent possible. This helps to ensure that crops are grown that are fully adapted to the relevant climate, altitude and soil conditions; a sense of environmental stewardship is instilled; and reliance on imported seeds and other materials is reduced.  

In addition, the KLEP conducts regular and more intensive training workshops among a smaller group of people as part of its “model couple campaigners” strategy. The couples  are selected for their demonstrated commitment to one or more of the KLEP guiding principles and receive technical support to adopt agricultural practices that improve their livelihoods. In order to participate, they must equally examine and reform power relations within their household, to ensure that both husband and wife are able to assert their rights on an equal footing. These couples serve as role models within their communities and help to promulgate methods for effective and equitable development, redoubling the impact of the overall program.

The KLEP trainings and workshops are reinforced by action-oriented research conducted by CAED staff to broaden the range of tools available to build more sustainable livelihoods. For example, horticultural grafting makes it possible to grow plants with characteristics that are beneficial to the farmers’ livelihoods (such as nuts with softer shells). Many of these techniques require further research on how to effectively implement them in the target communities, however. This aspect of the program provides an important source of innovation and constantly explores ways to improve the trainings and workshops. 

Finally, CAED takes a number of advocacy measures to bring policy concerns affecting the KLEP beneficiaries to the attention of the district, provincial and federal government. This ensures greater accountability, collaboration and support from government agencies and officials towards the KEP communities.

Principles Underpinning KLEP Activities

  • Encouraging agricultural techniques that improve livelihoods in a sustainable way (e.g. crop rotation and diversification, encouraging the use of species that have nutritional / income-generating benefits, natural fertilisation and other soil improvement practices).
  • Tackling deeply-rooted discriminatory practices and mind-sets, with a particular focus on patriarchal attitudes and caste-based discrimination.
  • Addressing power imbalances within households that contribute to inequitable development.
  • Developing effective responses to climate change (given that the majority of the livelihoods the program seeks to improve depend almost entirely on rain-fed subsistence agriculture), notably by identifying and planting crops that are compatible with recent changes to the Karnali climate.
  • Raising awareness of all rights that KLEP beneficiaries enjoy under the law and making them aware of avenues for redress of rights violations and mechanisms of governmental accountability, in general.


Province 6 – Karnali

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