South asia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS) is a new yet rapidly expanding research institute based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It aims to produce critical and pragmatic knowledge for social justice across South Asia and beyond, in areas such as public policy, development policy and practice, climate change politics, natural resource management, and local governance. SIAS has exciting opportunities and research facilities for students to learn about Nepal and South Asia.

More information and updates about SIAS and its activities are found in www.sias-southasia.org

Possible Volunteering Opportunities

1. Project Title: Conflict and Cooperation over REDD+ in Nepal, Mexico and Vietnam (CoCooR)

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the evidence on the impact of REDD+ on conflict and cooperation in developing countries through case studies of Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam. CoCooR will investigate conflicts and cooperation over REDD+ through research in Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam. All three countries are in advanced stages of developing and implementing national REDD+ Programmes. CoCooR will examine local-level conflict and cooperation over forests in two REDD+ demonstration sites in each country, one site characterized by significant cooperation and the other experiencing pronounced conflict.

  • Mexico: Quintana Roo and Chiapas in the southeast
  • Nepal: Dolakha in the middle hills and Lamjung in the Tarai
  • Vietnam: Thai Nguyen in the north and Lam Dong in the south

This project focuses on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and related forest-based climate change mitigation actions as a key climate change policy with direct effects on sustainable development and poverty alleviation. In addition, the insights gained, tools developed and capacity strengthened by CoCooR with regards to REDD+ will have wider implications for efforts to understand and influence the impacts of climate mitigation and adaptation policies in settings characterised by multiple stakeholders making competing claims on scarce resources.

CoCooR seeks to strengthen the evidence on the impacts of REDD+ on conflict and cooperation in developing countries through research in Mexico, Nepal and Vietnam. These three countries, which are at advanced stages of REDD+, offer excellent opportunities for generating insights relevant to other countries. The application of an environmental justice lens is expected to generate novel understanding of cross-scale conflict and cooperation over forests. This knowledge innovation allows CoCooR to develop a conflict prediction checklist for REDD+ practitioners, produce recommendations on conflict-sensitive national safeguards processes for decision makers and provide relevant training to local communities, grassroots organizations, NGOs, government and project developers. By involving national institutions and ambitious postdoctoral staff as equal partners, CoCooR makes unique contributions to capacity development with regards to the ability to investigate, provide advice and implement tools for conflict sensitive REDD+ policy and practice.

2. Project Title: Rethinking Environment and Development in an Era of Global Norms: An Exploration of Forests and Water in Nepal, Sudan and Uganda

The research responds to the unprecedented emergence of global environmental norms, particularly those intended to reconcile natural resource management with poverty alleviation in a just manner. The research will examine the effects of global environmental norms on poverty alleviation in the Global South through explorations of forests and water with particular attention to the links made between local claims and global norms by higher-level mobilisations.

The research will proceed by way of four comparative case studies from Nepal, Sudan and Uganda. Each case study explores the effects of a particular external intervention related to the management of forests or water. The first two case studies are situated in Lamjung district in Nepal, analyzing indigenous people’s successful mobilization and resistance to hydropower projects as well as their participation in a REDD+ pilot project. The Merowe hydro-electric dam in Sudan is the third case study, exemplifying a case where local people have been dispossessed from land despite support from exiled community members and international activists. The fourth case comes from Uganda, where the Trees for Global Benefit project has not led to any significant mobilization despite the presence of significant injustices and direct relevance of global norms on socially just carbon forestry projects.

3. Project Title: Climate Adaptive Water Management Plans for Cities in South Asia (CAMPS)

Climate Adaptive Water Management Plans for Cities in South Asia (CAMPS) investigates urban water insecurity under changing climate in small to medium sized cities in Nepal and north India, and demonstrates governance and city-scale planning strategies for adaptive and equitable management of urban water systems. The specific objectives of the project include: Analyze existing water management systems in four case study cities to identify water management problems and adaptation issues and opportunities in relation to (a) existing and predicted impact of climate change on water cycles, (b) city-level planning and governance context, and (c) socio-economic trends of urbanization in the region, and c) day-to-day water use practices; Explore, develop and pilot CAEWMPS focusing on priority critical water zones of the four cities adopting collaborative, participatory action and learning approach; Investigate city-scale planning and institutional change pathways for mainstreaming CAEWMPS, with particular reference to economic incentives, transformative knowledge partnerships through collaborative research, onsite trainings and workshops, and institutional innovations; Analyze policy and regulatory barriers to CAEWMPS in the context of Nepal and the two States in India, and demonstrate actionable policy improvement pathways for up-scaling CAEWMPS through active and collaborative engagement of different stakeholders including local government; Develop and disseminate scientific outputs in aspects of a) governance of critical urban water zones, b) reframing institutions for urban water system adaptation, c) effective planning pathways for urban water adaptation, c) gender sensitive urban water management, d) policy directions for effective and inclusive urban water systems adaptation, e) economic analysis of climate adaptive water management options, and f) analysis of everyday practice of urban water use.

Focus of the research is on meeting adaptation deficits at the small to medium-sized cities where demographic pressure and environmental stresses are particularly acute. The research results are expected to help decision makers understand the consequences of climate change on water resources, agriculture, and economic activity, and, take actions to improve the ability of communities, governments, and the private sector by adapting to the uncertainty, rapidly evolving risks, and environmental threats related to our changing climate. The overall objective of the project is to generate lasting local water solutions, bringing choice and change to those who need it most in the developing world by investing in knowledge and innovation, supporting the leaders of the future, and by being a partner of choice for the public and private sectors for the impacts of large scale.

Preferred Skills:

Open to third and fourth year students.

For students who are interested in areas such as development, environment, area studies, or social sciences and technical studies in Nepal and South Asia in general. Must have strong research skills.

Approximate cost

You should expect to spend about £1250 for eight weeks - this covers costs for food and accommodation, as well as local travel. There are no programme fees payable to Camvol.

In addition to these local costs, volunteers will need to book return flights to India (typically about £550 if booked early), and apply for a gratis visa, as required by the government of Nepal.

Vaccination and other medical costs have NOT been included in estimated costs, and applicants should take this into account while planning their budgets. If you intend to travel for recreation and tourism, these costs will be additional, so please budget accordingly.

Financial support is available, including Camvol-CMEDT Commonwealth Travelling Scholarships; support from Colleges; and from the University. If selected, the Camvol Director can advise about funding opportunities.