National climate change policy and strategies set out a framework for planning and undertaking climate change adaptation as well as mitigation activities at the national and local levels. In this article, we examine the coherence and contradictions between national policies and plans, and its impacts on the implementation of adaptation measures at the local level. We undertook a content review of key climate change policy documents (n = 4) of Nepal. In addition, we conducted a field study in the Rajdevi Community Forest User Group (CFUG) located in the mid-hills of Nepal, which has developed and implemented a community level adaptation plan of action (CAPA). The field study involved household interviews, focus group discussions, and an in-depth analysis of CAPA implementation. The paper found that while policies are coherent for targeting highly affected areas and communities, they deviate from discerning an appropriate planning and implanting unit. The local adaptation plan of action (LAPA) considers the local government as an implementing unit, while the national adaptation program of action (NAPA) puts an emphasis on the local community groups. It suggests that the existing LAPA implementation breaches the provision of community-level institutions for the implementation conceived in the central framework. Despite little attention to promoting food security in climate change policy, through the CAPA, local communities have planned and implemented adaptation measures envisioned in the thematic areas identified in the climate change policy of Nepal: agriculture and food security; forests and biodiversity; water resources and energy; climate-induced disasters; public health; and urban settlements and infrastructure. Nevertheless, the CAPA is not institutionalized under government policies and the institutional framework as a local level implementing unit. So, the consensus for a local implementing unit in the policies has remained a key issue. We suggest identifying a suitable and acceptable unit for implementing climate change adaptation at the community level. Only if an appropriate implementing unit is identified can the policies be successful with a broader acceptance and desirable outcomes enshrined in the climate change policy.
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