ANSAB initiates result based payment for ecosystem services on drinking water in Nepal

A result based Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) on drinking water has been established in Nepal applying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Ecosystem Services (ES) standard that the local communities are now practicing and performing in Dolakha district. This initiative was initiated by ANSAB under the GEF funded Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES) project that the organization has been implementing in Nepal in partnership with FSC, Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Relief International (RI) with the aim to pilot test the expanded and enhanced global and national environmental standards applied to emerging markets for biodiversity conservation and ecosystems services with upgrading FSC certification standards. The current PES mechanism incorporates the International Generic Indicators (IGIs), currently approved by the FSC Board for incorporating additional ecosystem services at landscape level.

To establish the PES mechanism, the ForCES project conducted a preliminary participatory socio-resource mapping at landscape and CFUGs level for identifying the major ecosystem services including water resources in the Charnawati landscape in Dolakha district and map out these services using the GIS-applications. ANSAB in consultation with Charikot Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Institution (CDWSUI) carried out willingness to pay survey among 250 households of Bhimeshwor municipality in the district. The survey explored the water demand and supply situation, major problems, and willingness to pay (WTP) for water services. The WTP results showed that the service buyers are ready to pay up to NRs. 30-45 per tap/month as an additional fee if forest manager ensures the quality and quantity of drinking water through application of FSC standards. The service providers accepted to apply the FSC forest standards for ecosystem services to supply quality and quantity of water along with sustainable forest management and water resources.

CDWSUI organized a district level stakeholders’ workshop where ANSAB presented on the concept, process and potentiality of developing PES mechanism for sustainable water supply and create harmony between the service providers and service buyers. For claiming the water payment, various awareness raising and capacity building trainings on water discharge measurement, water source management and record keeping were provided to the service providers. The CFUGs, with technical support from ANSAB and Dolakha District Forest Office (DFO), carried out Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and revision of forest management plan which explicitly incorporates the provisions of water resources status, threats, protection measures and sustainable supply and wise use. ANSAB organized the district level workshop in collaboration with CDWSUI to discuss, identify and set up a payment criteria and mechanism to supply drinking water at downstream. The workshop unanimously concluded to manage forest and water resources by applying FSC forest certification standards for ES and establish a result based payment mechanism on drinking water.

ANSAB developed an operational guideline for governing and regulating the water fund. A contract between CDWSUI and Resource Management Committee comprising of participating CFUG representatives, affected CFUG representatives and FECUFUN district chapter was made in presence of DFO, District Development Committee, Bhimeshwor municipality, journalists and other stakeholders was made. Based on the agreement, the service providers have now received a premium of NRs. 80,000 from the Charikot drinking water committee. This fund has already been utilized by water dependent communities for sustainable forest and water resource management, such as protecting water springs through fencing major water sources, constructing water conservation ponds in and around the water sources, plantations and other livelihood generating activities.