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VSO / Suraj Shakya


VSO is one of the longest serving INGOs in Nepal. All told, we've worked in 59 of Nepal's 77 districts, partnering since 1964 with government ministries and line agencies, national commissions, NGOs, donors and communities to support those most in need.

In Nepal, our international and national volunteers support girls to access and thrive in education and life. They work with communities to prepare for, respond and recover from disasters. They help communities collaborate with authorities for better service provision. And our growing youth network is an active national voice on sustainable development in the country and beyond.


In 2017/18, our work in nine of Nepal's Hill, Terai and central Kathmandu Valley districts directly reached a total of 128,629 people.


Our Girls' Education Challenge project supported literacy, numeracy, and self-empowerment for 7,219 girls in 2017/18.


In 2017/18, we mobilised over 1,000 international, national and community volunteers in Inclusive Education and Inclusive Governance.

Inclusive Education

Pramila sisters for sisters project Nepal VSO/Suraj Shakya

“I have learned that I need to speak up and be active. I am inspired by my Big Sister to study hard and take part in extra activities. Today, I am regular at school and very happy to be in the school. I like to study and be with friends. I dream to be a teacher and serve in my community.”


Pramila, 13, is a ‘Little Sister’ on VSO’s Sisters for Sisters’ Education project in Surkhet


One of our key focuses in Nepal is making sure that poor and marginalised children in Nepal get their education – particularly girls.

Community volunteers are a key part of this approach, working within their own communities to challenge attitudes and affect change from within.

Sisters for Sisters' Education

Discrimination and cultural norms are keeping girls out of school in Nepal. Early marriage, domestic duties and menstrual taboos all mean that girls are either not showing up to class or else dropping out due to family pressures. Girls with disabilities face even greater barriers, often never having the chance for an education. 

To address this, VSO's international and national education volunteers are working with local volunteers in dozens of communities to change attitudes and emphasise the value of educating girls.

Role models are powerful tools. VSO's Sisters for Sisters’ Education project is empowering adolescent girls by paring them with older women from the community to mentor them as their “Big Sister”.

We are also teaching teachers and school managers to understand and practice the inclusion, accountability and resilience skills that need to promote education for all.  

Originally funded by UK Aid's Girls' Education Challenge, Sisters For Sisters is now in an exciting second phase that is focusing on helping the girls prepare for higher education, employment, and even enterpreneurship. 

We choose to be educated rather than brides.

Little Sisters, Pokhara Bhnajyang, Surkhet

Results from Phase 1:                                                             

  • 93.8% of the Little Sisters said that they liked the mentoring approach of the Sisters for Sisters project and thought it would help them stay in school.
  • A comparison of two groups of girls showed that there was a significant difference in their study hours with Little Sisters studying more.
  • Over 67% of the Little Sisters studied for 2 to 4 hours at home as compared to only 54% of other girls
  • Little Sisters also experienced a significant boost in confidence owing to the counselling and motivation from the Big Sisters.

More information on Sisters for Sisters

Sisters for Sisters’ Education in Nepal is run in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Department of Education, managed by VSO and funded by the Department for International Development and the Million Hours Fund. Our implementing partners are Global Action Nepal and Aasaman Nepal.

Sisters for Sisters project page

Gender Equality & Social inclusion (GESI)

One Community One Family Nepal VSO/Suraj Shakya

Vulnerability to gender-based violence frequently starts in the family and is reinforced in the community. VSO is working to better understand how to balance family, school and community-level interventions with support for service providers who are tasked with security and justice.


Nepal has one of the highest poverty rates in Asia, with 25% of people living below the poverty line*. Women are disproportionally impacted by poverty across the board, with poor women and girls facing greater poverty and violence, and lower literacy, health and economic empowerment, than poor men and boys. They are also frequently excluded from local planning processes, leading to their increasing vulnerability and isolation from communities that badly need their local insight and knowledge.

VSO is working with disadvantaged communities to develop new and effective approaches to local development through the lens of gender. As a core approach, our volunteers listen to marginalised women and girls and their families and communities first, to understand the customs and norms that underlie gender and power dynamics, before then working with community members to develop interventions that make a difference. 

*Source: Asian Development Bank

Strengthening Access to Holistic, Gender Responsive, and Accountable Justice (SAHAJ)

Gender-based violence (GBV) is by far the most common form of violence in Nepal. The vast majority of incidents go unreported due to harmful social norms that perpetuate the idea that women and girls have little worth in society and to a culture of silence that says violence in the home is a private matter. When women finally muster the courage to report cases to the authorities, they are often met with the very same patriarchal attitudes and norms they had to overcome just to report the incident in the first place.

To strengthen access to security and justice for such women, more understanding is needed about the role harmful social norms play within families, communities, and services such as the police, courts, judicial committees, and other services that are meant to keep them safe. Although preliminary findings indicate good promise for a comprehensive and holistic approach towards gender transformation based on influencing key actors, the current data on how to effectively design such interventions and which combinations of interventions work best in which contexts, is still incomplete.

As part of the larger Integrated Programme for Strengthening Security and Justice in Nepal (IP-SSJ), VSO’s SAHAJ project aims to test the effectiveness of different combinations of interventions in 46 different palikas in 16 districts of Provinces 2, 5 and 7. It does this through family-centred, school-centered and grassroots approaches that will transform community social norms while improving the capacity of the security and justice system.

The project includes a strong operational research component to provide learning and evidence on what works to change harmful social norms and strengthen community-police relationships to inform development actors, donors and service providers in the changing federal context of Nepal. Specialist volunteers are provided expertise on GBV, gender issues, protection and safeguarding, and in many communities young women and girls are being engaged as volunteers to champion rights and advocate for change. Key components of the project are adapted from lessons of One Community, One Family, a three-year project implemented by VSO as part of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children programme.

The SAHAJ consortium is led by VSO with lead support from International Alert, research expertise from Emory University, media support from Antenna Foundation Nepal, legal support from FWLD, and local implementation from Mahuri Home, SEBAC, and Samagra.

Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Resilience

Resilience Nepal

National and community volunteers work with local groups to develop a participatory vulnerability and capacity assesstment in flood-prone Rautahat. PVCA is a key tool for identifying local risks, addressing the needs of marginalised groups, and developing local resilience.


Nepal faces a dizzying array of economic, natural and political hazards, with the Kathmandu Valley frequently classified as one of the world's most vulnerable metro areas. Since the 2015 Ghorka Earthquake, a major aim of VSO's Inclusive Governance programme is to work with civil society, schools, local officials and communities to better understand vulnerability and build long-term resilience.

Today this work includes a two-year project to help communities build back better to the 2017 Terai Flood, a cross-sector urban DRR project in Kathmandu Valley, and school-based resilience and safety work underway in more than 50 schools. 

From Response to Recovery in the Terai

In 2017, a devastating flood tore through Nepal, destroying more than 400,000 homes – many of which belonged to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. At the time the floods hit, Nepal was still recovering from a high-magnitude earthquake in 2015.

Disasters – whether natural, political or economic – affect the most marginalised people the most. When a community has fewer assets, defences and insights, it is less resilient to shocks that a better-resourced community may be able to weather. The aim was to strengthen schools and support increased community level resilience.

The two-year project, envisioned as a school-centred “response to recovery” project, reconstructed six schools, installing raised hand pumps and building separate toilets for boys and girls with WASH facilities in each. In terms of long-term development, VSO Nepal also succeeded in providing on-farm and off-farm training for 30 of the area’s most marginalised communities.

We’re involving local people in finding and examining the vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms for their communities during a disaster. This encourages meaningful participation and accountability in the community by helping local people to identify their own problems and prepare for risks. Putting people in the centre of their own risk-reduction not only makes the most of the best local knowledge, but empowers them to and develop a deep understanding of the risks and action plans needed to build long-term resilience in their communities.

This area is prone to flooding – but this time, nature was ruthless.

Aalok Pandey, Community Volunteer, Rautahat


  • Reconstructed six schools, installing raised hand pumps and building separate toilets for boys and girls with WASH facilities in each.
  • Provided new Early Childhood Development and Learning facilities for 2,000 students in the six schools.
  • Provided on farm and off-farm training for 30 of the area’s most marginalised communities.

Youth Empowering Youth

ICS Youth Volunteer Kritika Thapa Magar VSO/Suraj Ratna Shakya

Kritika Thapa Magar, 22, wanted to volunteer with ICS to see more of her country and get out of her comfort zone. She works as part of a team of volunteers from both Nepal and the UK on activities including extra tuition session at the community library for local children.

More than one in every five people in Nepal is aged 16-25. VSO Nepal is best known for our International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, and we're engaging young people in much of our other work too.

Our 2,000-strong, and growing, youth network is an active national voice on sustainable development in Nepal and beyond. Our youth programme works to empower young people, supporting them to know their rights, demand inclusivity and hold decision-makers to account.

These are just some of the things we’ve been doing:

  • We launched National Youth Engagement Networks (NYEN) in six countries, including Nepal. These youth-led networks provide platforms for ICS alumni and community youth to engage with decision-makers on the social actions most important to them.
  • ICS volunteers are working to recruit and train peer educators as part of the Sisters for Sisters’ programme, with topics focusing on girls’ empowerment, career development, and the importance of education.
  • ICS volunteers deliver our adolescent sexual health rights programme – enabling young people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
  • In the disaster prone areas of Kathmandu valley, ICS has been focussing on Disaster Risk Reduction, working at the grassroots level with community members, schools, and municipality and ward officials in raising awareness on disaster preparedness and response to disasters such as earthquakes.
  • Three ICS volunteers were featured on BBC News live from their placement in Nepal on Christmas Day talking about their ICS experience and work in community in education.

ICS gave me a lot of skills and personal development. I want to use my experience as a positive thing to inspire someone else.

Danial, 21, ICS volunteer in Nepal

Volunteering for Development programme

The Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.

The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality. Find out more:


Our partners

VSO’s valued funding partners in Nepal include DFID, SAMRC and the EU. We have good relationships with Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD), Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Finance and the National Youth Council (NYC).


Contact us

Postal address: 
VSO Nepal
PO Box 207 
Kathmandu, Nepal

Office location: 
VSO Nepal (map link and directions)
Doka Dol, Sanepa
Lalitpur, Nepal 

Tel: (+977) 1 544 1469 (main number), (+977) 1 542 1616, (+977) 1 544 0269/4
Fax: (+977) 1 542 4743 


Interested in volunteering?

Find out more about volunteering in Nepal

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