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NDRI: Committed to quality research and development

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

NDRI: Committed to quality research and development

Harkening back to 2004, seven scholars after their doctoral degree from renowned Universities abroad were wandering and pondering while chasing a key question “what new initiative shall be done in Nepal to make a breakthrough in the development”. The founder members had a strong conviction that there is a dire need for policy reform based on the research-based evidence in Nepal and they came up with an idea to start up a policy research institute in Nepal that resulted in the establishment of Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI).

NDRI stands today as a leading Think Tank in Nepal, working independently and free from partisans. NDRI aims to carry out research activities on contemporary issues related to development and advancement of society, and to provide substantive analytical inputs for policy making on contemporary issues through rigorous research and dissemination of findings.

NDRI comprises an interdisciplinary team of experts/researchers working in the field of Agriculture, Livelihood and Food Security; Water and Climate; Heath, Education and Environment; Economic Development; Disaster Risk Management, and Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI). The beneficiaries of NDRI’s activities include government institutions, international organizations (bilateral and multilateral), universities, and research institutes.

The activities of NDRI are divided into four strands: Policy Research, Data-Based Research, Events and Publication. Through Policy Research, NDRI identifies pertinent subjects in contemporary issues, collects data/information and analyzes, runs discourses with an interface between the policymakers and scientists, and prepares research papers and policy briefs. Some of the pertinent issues being researched in NDRI include, not limited to: Foreign Direct Investment, Water induced disasters such as Floods and Landslides, Tobacco economics, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, GESI and Mycotoxin in food commodities.

NDRI has covered all 77 districts of Nepal for the database research such as for impact assessment of development interventions done by both the government agencies and other collaborators. Organizing interactive platforms such as workshops, seminars, dialogue inviting critical masses from diverse sectors, and webinars are the regular activities of NDRI. NDRI gives importance to producing knowledge products such as peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, factsheets, and policy briefs that have great value for scientific communities and national stakeholders. 

Some of the notable publications/works of NDRI include:

Railway development in Nepal: NDRI published a peer-reviewed proceeding report titled “Railways Development in Nepal” in 2009 which recommended ample prospects for railway development in Nepal. The proceeding came from the expert’s consultation from countries where Railways have been playing an instrumental role for their economic development such as Japan, India, and others.  This report is considered as the first paving stone for the Railways development which played a prominent role to conceive the trust in the possibility of the railway development in Nepal.

Food Security Atlas:  NDRI, in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) and National Planning Commission (NPC) has prepared the Food Security Atlas in 2010 (First edition) and in 2020 (Second edition). This is the only Food Security Atlas in Nepal that has widely been used as a decision supporting document.

Tobacco control program: It is well known that Nepal belongs to one of the least taxpayer countries in the world for tobacco which is 37 percent (excise duty) while the WHO recommendation is 75 percent. The repercussion of this paradoxical lowest tax rate has led Nepal to be one of the countries with high prevalence of tobacco consumers (32 percent) and significant GDP loss in health (1.04 percent). The Tobacco Control Program of NDRI has succeeded in convincing the Government of Nepal to increase the excise duty by 25 percent and 20 percent in the fiscal year budget 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.

Climate change impact on urban flooding: Increased rainfall extremes cause severe urban flooding in cities across the globe with adverse socio-economic consequences. NDRI analyzed historical extreme rainfall patterns across Kathmandu city and used these as the basis for future projections in combination with a range of General Circulation Models. Future projections of extreme rainfall were then fed into the flood inundation model HAIL-CAESAR (Lisflood) for Kathmandu using a high-resolution digital elevation model. The results show that the future flood magnitude and extent (hazard) will increase. The historical 100-year return period flood will correspond to a 25-year period future flood. This analysis has served as a scientific basis to assess future flood-induced risk in Kathmandu in response to climate change.

19 years of service excellence

NDRI has been continuously providing service since 19 years. It celebrated its 19 anniversary on 13 April 2022. It was an honor for NDRI to have Bindu N Lohani, Former Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Distinguished Fellow, Emerging Markets Forum, USA as a Key Speaker with the guest presence of Ram Manohar Shrestha, Emeritus Professor of Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. Also, NDRI feels the privilege to have the presence of Ambassadors and Deputy Chief Mission from various countries.

Challenges and recommendations

Despite several success stories in the course of 19 years of services, NDRI is no exception to different challenges, those include inadequate policy of the government to govern research institutes, inadequate sense of authorities on the need for research and evidence on decision making, and inadequate capacity of research institutes. NDRI is persistently advocating the need for a policy to govern think tank research institutes. The government shall operate some research funds for think tank institutes which shall be accessed through a competitive basis i.e. call for proposals in specific sectors to address the relevant issues. Equally important is to make designated provisions to monitor and evaluate think tanks and research institutes in appropriate ways. Similarly, there is a dire need for the provision of ethical approval of research pertaining to varied sectors for the consistent regulation. Last but not the least, the state should consider the research capacity development through universities and research institutes, making them resourceful with a strategic plan and linking with the strategic development of Nepal.