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People living in Nepal’s remote Humla region high in the Himalayas face some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Most villages have lived without access to consistent electricity, clean drinking water, and proper health care, while only 1% of the rocky land is arable. But the situation is changing.

“It's very easy to talk about remote community development, but actually understanding just how remote it is and then thinking about the progress that has been made is incredible,” says Daniel Silver, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at the Adara Group, which has been supporting local communities in Nepal and Uganda since 1998.

A key part of Adara’s ability to track long-lasting change has been its Household Survey, which most recently gathered data from more than 4,600 people living across 12 Humla villages. It provided a vast trove of information that is revealing the priorities of Humla residents and the type of support which is proving most effective.

“That engagement with the community is just so important to understand their needs and how they’re evolving, especially with COVID and climate-related disasters, as well as the unique challenges that they’re facing,” says Daniel.

The survey, which creates a feedback loop that underpins long-term change, has already revealed large improvements in:

  • Food production, with 99% of households able to grow enough food to support their households for six months thanks to Adara-installed greenhouses.
  • School attendance, with 99.2% of children in Adara-supported villages regularly attending school compared to 74.5% nationally.
  • The number of flushing toilets, which are now in 73.4% of households compared to zero households in 1999.

Better health care and access to birthing centres

The Household Survey has also helped improve maternal health in Adara-supported communities. It helped identify a key issue – that pregnant women living in remote Humla villages, like Chauganfaya, were giving birth at home rather than face a gruelling four-to-five hour walk to the nearest hospital.

“We set up this birthing centre alongside the government and community,” says Madalyn Busby, Adara’s Communications Manager. The centre, which was built alongside an existing health post, was renovated and staffed with a trained nurse and midwife. It created a lifesaving option for local women such as Dolma, who gave birth to her first two children at home.

“She gave birth last year at the birthing centre. She could walk 10 minutes to get there rather than having to walk five hours,” Madalyn says.

Adara continues to focus on maternal, newborn and child health, with undernutrition still an issue among children given the remoteness of the area and climate.

“Climate-related disasters are really compounding the community’s vulnerabilities and lessening their purchasing power, which is further complicated by restricted access to markets because of a lack of roads,” says Daniel. “The reliance on smallholder farming as well is huge and so climate-related disasters are affecting crop yield.”

Adara Development has raised A$73m* in funding since 1998 for international development. A key part of that success is its innovative business-for-purpose model, with Adara’s two corporate advisory businesses, Adara Partners and Adara Advisors, contributing A$25m*. Contributions from these businesses fund Adara's infrastructure and administrations costs, so 100% of other donations go directly to project costs.

Adara is also sharing what it has learned with other organisations as it scales up its child-centred model for community development, AdaraRemote. This model focuses on improving access to education, strengthening child protection, fostering youth development, building community resilience to disasters and climate change, and ensuring people can enjoy good health.

“We want to share our successes, expertise, experience, and our mistakes as well with other organisations so they can replicate our successful models,” says Daniel.

Supporting an organisation’s capacity to collect data, measure and learn from a project’s outcomes and evaluate success is vital to their sustainability and their ability continue delivering projects that make a difference in community.

Adara has previously received support from trusts managed by Equity Trustees.

To learn more about Adara’s work in remote community development, reach out to Georgie Kershaw, Partnerships Manager on

*February 2024