Projects and project management in Nepal
My last trip of 2015 brought my into Nepal, a country that I have never visited before, but is definitely worth of travelling more often to. The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, until 2008 a Kingdom with a long and interesting history, is located in the Himalaya region and bordered to the north by China, to the south, east, and west by India, and separated from Bangladesh by the narrow Indian Siliguri Corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal has nearly 30 million inhabitants, however several millions of them are living and working abroad. What is important to understand: Nepal is built on a rich history and cultural heritage, divers in its population (more than a hundred different dialects are spoken) and young in age (more than a third of the population is below 15 years). More than 80% of the population belongs to Hinduism, 10% to Buddhism and the rest are Christians and Muslims. Nepal has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, the famous Mount Everest, which brings a lot of tourists into the country for hiking, mountain climbing and sight-seeing.
The first signs of settlements in Nepal are pointing eleven-thousand years back in history. Most important for Nepal, was the period of the Kingdom, which started in 1768 and ended in 2008. It would be an article of its own to describe the ups and downs of this Kingdom, but certainly it brought high recognition to the Nepalese people, economic growth and political influence in the region. After a palace massacre in 2001, widespread turmoil and unrest spread and led into the Federal Democratic Republic, which was finally declared in 2008. This year, Nepal replaced the interim constitution by a new one causing another conflict with the strong neighbour India and ending up with a blockage followed by a fuel-crisis. It is reported and was experienced by myself to be “… an economic and humanitarian crisis which has severely affected Nepal and its economy. As a landlocked nation, Nepal imports all of its petroleum supplies from India. Roughly 300 fuel trucks enter from India on a normal day, but this has dwindled to a sporadic passage of 5–10 fuel trucks.” This crisis needs to be overcome to bring back Nepal on a growth path, which is crucial for a societal development.
Until the mid-twenty century, Nepal was mainly based on agriculture and it is with nearly 40 % of the GDP still mainly based on it. The Government tried during the last decades to develop transportation and communication facilities, services, and industry. However, the country is with 50% mainly dependent on foreign aid, coming from Nepalese people working and living abroad as well as many foreign development and humanitarian aid funds. The World Bank lists projects and programmes for Nepal worth more than 500 Million, mainly in three areas: energy, (re)construction and humanitarian aid. Hydro power is a main focus area for investment. Presently, there are 1.500 Megawatt available, but a potential for 83.000 Megawatt in total, which needs to be developed rapidly to overcome the energy shortages in the country. Another area of interest in Nepal is the construction of roads, bridges and the reconstruction of houses after the massive earthquake of this year. One of the reasons for the massive damages are reported to be the type of construction of buildings and the infrastructure. Thus, nowadays construction projects take earthquake-resilient principles into account. The third main area of concern for projects and programmes are humanitarian projects, mainly focusing on education (still a high percentage of the population suffers from illiteracy), community development to overcome poverty, especially in the rural areas, and health prevention programs (still more than a third of the households do not have a toilet).
Project management in Nepal is in the early stages of its development. Foreign companies and investors bring their own concepts in regard to project management. What is missing, is a systematic experience exchange and a built-up of individual and organisational competences for managing projects. In 2006, the Project Management Association of Nepal (PMAN) was established. PMAN has a membership of about 60 individuals, is a member of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and the Asian-Pacific Federation of Project Management (APFPM). Main activities comprise of events with various stakeholders for know-how exchange, seminars and collaboration with national universities. A very active Young Crew tries to reach out to the young professionals. The IPMA 4-Level-System Certification in Nepal will start next year. The activities of PMAN try to involve governmental agencies, private businesses as well as the Not-for-Profit sector. A training in March 2016 aims at developing know-how in project management and in the IPMA Project Excellence Baseline (IPMA PEB) to improve project management competences as well as assessing excellent projects for the Project Excellence Awards of IPMA. Nepal has already five winners of IPMA Awards: Young Project Manager Awards in 2010 and 2011; Project Achievement Awards in Community Service/Development Projects in 2013 and 2015; and an internationally funded Humanitarian Aid project in 2015.
What I personally experienced during my visit was the overwhelming hospitality shown by the people of Nepal and their friendliness. Despite all difficulties and challenges the people of Nepal smile a lot, show dignity and are very proud of their country. They hold together as a family, a strength that should be used to overcome the damages caused by the earthquakes and the political threats. I will certainly return next year and help Nepal to develop the maturity in project management in all sectors and on all levels.
PS: This is our last blog post for this year. Thanks for your interest. We will continue in 2016 with another round of exciting insights into the world of projects and project management. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.