Cover Image
close this bookCase Studies of People's Participation in Watershed Management in Asia (PWMTA, 1996)
close this folderA case study of people's participation in Begnastal and Rupatal (BTRT) watershed management in Nepal
close this folderIntroduction
View the documentBackground
View the documentStudy site selection
View the documentObjectives of the study


Nepal is a small mountainous country covering an area of 14.74 million ha. It is drained by four major river systems, namely: Mahakali, Karnali, Gandaki and Koshi, and about 6000 other medium-sized and small rivers join these systems. The country's average elevation varies from 60 m in the south to 8848 m AMSL in the North. Nepal is divided into five different physiographical zones: Terai, Siwaliks, Middle Mountain, High Mountain and High Himal.

Nepalese economy is based mainly on agriculture. In fact, more than 80% of the total population depends on farming for sustenance. The Nepalese have strived hard in order to overcome the harsh physiographic environment and raise crops successfully. The terrace systems found on steep slopes is one of the outstanding examples of battling the severe impediments to farming.

The population of Nepal today is about 20 million, and the annual rate of growth is about 2.7%. In order to meet the increasing demands of the growing population for food, fodder, timber, and fuelwood, marginal lands are being cultivated. Consequently, much forest and shrub lands have been degraded.

Farms in the hills and mountains are classified as upland (bari) and lowland (khet). Upland farms are rainfed and planted with crops like maize, mustard, wheat, millet and buck-wheat. Lowland areas are usually irrigated and planted with rice and mustard.

Nepal is divided into five development regions: Eastern Development Region (DR), Central DR, Western DR, Mid-Western DR and Far-Western DR.

The Western Development Region (WDR) exhibits the typical Nepalese farming system of traditional style terraces on hill slopes and cultivated marginal lands, on which both annual and perennial crops are grown. One-fifth of the total population resides in this region.