Conserving freshwater biodiversity in Nepal with the Pani programme

The Pani programme, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is aimed at addressing the adverse effects of climate change and population growth in three river basins and 25 watersheds in Nepal.

Akvo supports the programme by providing the tools and services to capture data on various water quality parameters, monitor the quality of water over time, and understand the data so that it can be used for decision making.

Above: Hackathon participants conducting field surveys in Nepal, January 2017. Photo by Sahaj Man Shrestha.




Climate action


Tool training

Survey design

Technical support

The challenge

Water is the most important natural resource for Nepal’s livelihoods and economy. The water that runs through the great Karnali, Mahakali and Rapti river basins irrigates farmlands, propels hydroelectric dams, and provides critical habitats to diverse freshwater species. However, these water resources are under threat due to climate change and population growth. The Pani programme implements various activities, from policy engagement to academic research, to address these problems. In order to measure the success of the project, data needs to be captured on water quality and on local water management practices.

Field Survey In Nepal
Above: Hackathon participant conducting a field survey in Nepal, January 2017. Photo by Sahaj Man Shrestha

The partnership

Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) was contracted by USAID to implement the Pani programme in Nepal. Pani works to raise the profile of freshwater issues, conserve freshwater biodiversity and implement sustainable water management practices. The programme activities range from training diverse groups of stakeholders in freshwater management practices, collaborating with government officials to develop best practices, and developing university curriculum and community training modules on sustainable freshwater management.

Akvo and Pani got together in 2016 for a 13 day hackathon event to brainstorm for ways to develop and use information and communications technology (ICT) to monitor the health of freshwater in the region at community level. Together, Akvo and Pani have collected data on various water quality parameters and water management practices. Akvo has also supported the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the programme, helping the partners to track results, update progress and capture stories from the three river basins and 25 Watersheds in Nepal.

Programme overview

Program for Aquatic Natural Resources Improvement (PANI) Project in Nepal. Project to measure health of local watersheds

data points captured


river basins



The change

The hackathon was extremely productive in bringing together a diverse group of people and brainstorming solutions, which ranged from innovative technologies to traditional methods. All of the topics discussed were collated and mapped using Akvo’s tools and expertise, providing an excellent foundation for the programme.

With Akvo, baseline data and water quality data has been collected with accuracy and timeliness. Multiple groups have been trained in water quality testing so that the health of the river can be monitored over time. What’s more, data systems are in place to keep track of progress, steer the programme and learn from the results.