Employment-led poverty reduction in Nepal

We are helping to strengthen the evidence base around Public Works Programmes (PWPs) and their role as part of a wider social protection strategy in Nepal.

Project team members


  • Rodolfo Beazley

Although there are a number of PWPs operating in Nepal, they are not part of a coherent and comprehensive national strategy and their results are mixed. In association with Cardno IT Transport and Deego Pvt Ltd, we are providing technical assistance to the Government of Nepal to help improve failing programmes and develop capacity for designing, monitoring, and implementing new ones. Our team will help redesign and pilot the currently unsuccessful Karnali Employment Programme (KEP), working to monitor and gather evidence on outcomes. This evidence will be used to inform programme improvements and scale up the role of the programme in national social protection policy. We will also be providing capacity building support, working with the Government to strengthen institutions, systems, and processes around PWPs. More broadly, the project will help influence policy through research, stakeholder engagement, coordination of PWPs, and support to the revision of programme guidelines and government acts.


Public Works Programmes (PWPs) can be effective social safety nets, creating employment opportunities, buffering against short-term shocks and contributing to wider economic growth. However, a lack of international evidence on PWPs means that their role as part of a wider social protection programme is often unclear.

This is the case in Nepal, where a number of PWPs are operating in isolation, outside of any sort of coherent and comprehensive national strategy - and with mixed results. One of these programmes - the Karnali Employment Programme (KEP), which operates in the poorest and most remote region of the country, has been underperforming, with limited achievements in terms of employment creation, quality of outputs, and the level and regularity of payments for participants.

This project was established to help generate evidence on the effectiveness and role of PWPs by supporting their actual implementation on the ground in Nepal.

Our approach

Our team of experts is providing technical assistance to the Government of Nepal, developing initiatives that will support programme improvement and evidence gathering. We are adopting a three-tiered approach: in the first phase of the project, we will support the redesign and piloting of the KEP, putting in place appropriate monitoring systems to ensure that evidence gathered from the pilots will feed back directly into programme improvements.

The evidence collected in this phase will also be used to influence the policy process more broadly, by feeding into revisions of the Employment Act, supporting the scale-up of the KEP and the harmonization of PWPs as part of an overarching social protection programme for Nepal.

Alongside this, we will help build the Government’s capacity to implement PWPs. This will involve strengthening government institutions through the automation of systems and processes accompanied by intensive training and coaching. Our team will complete the following activities:

  • Supporting the redesign of the KEP, the implementation and monitoring of pilot programmes and the ongoing revision of guidelines
  • Developing a costing model or the KEP and a plan for programme scale-up
  • Supporting the scale up of the KEP
  • Completing an analysis of the fiscal space available for PWPs in Nepal
  • Developing and implementing a Management Information System for the KEP
  • Providing capacity building activities including coaching and support to PWP implementers and government officials
  • Disseminating evidence to improve understanding around PWPs, their policy implications and role in social protection programmes


This project will help support evidence-based decision-making around employment-led social protection policies in Nepal. More broadly, by supporting the improvement of the KEP and the strengthening of the government’s capacity and knowledge around PWPs, our work contribute to the development of a comprehensive national social protection strategy.

As well as promoting national improvements, the project will contribute to the wider international evidence base around PWPs and their role in social protection strategies.

Take a look at the Karnali Employment Programme (KEP) website, or watch this video on Improving the Nepal Karnali Employment Programme.

Areas of expertise