Our Work in Nepal

Adara has worked in Nepal since 1998 - both in Kathmandu, the capital, and Humla, a remote and highly disadvantaged region in the country's north-west. We are dedicated to integrated development projects that are community led, strengthening capacity in the communities in which we work. Our focus is long term sustainable support, in partnership with local communities on health, education and community infrastructure, for the benefit of children and their families. Projects have included alternative technology, remote mobile-healthcare services and anti-trafficking initiatives in Humla. We also have projects in Kathmandu focused on the emergency relief, rescue and care of trafficked children, and healthcare for disadvantaged communities.


  • Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. We aim to ensure that marginalised communities receive equal access to education.

  • Quality healthcare is inaccessible, poor quality or unaffordable for many poor and remote communities. We are working hard to change this.

  • Basic community infrastructure can improve the wellbeing of remote communities. We evaluate needs and help implement infrastructure projects.

  • Child wellbeing is at the core of our work. We always, always do what is best for the children.


  • In the late 80s, Audette Exel and Sharon Beesley had the fantastic opportunity to go trekking in Nepal and found it to be a country with incredible need. Together, with a small group of friends and supporters they established the ISIS Group (now called the Adara Group) in 1998. Audette travelled again to Nepal to learn about the world of development and to identify the first places to start working. She hoped to work remotely with the most vulnerable people in underserved or forgotten communities, and began by looking for countries with some of the lowest quality-of-living indicators. Her aim was to find support-worthy projects in remote areas that other aid organisations did not reach.

    Audette had the good fortune to meet Kimber Haddix McKay, an anthropologist who had spent much time living and working in Humla, a remote district in Nepal's north-west. The capital town Simikot is 9800 feet above sea level, and all the villages where we now work are only accessible by foot or horse. Humla is incredibly beautiful, but being so remote it has huge challenges. For instance, when it snows in the winter, communities can be isolated for months at a time, unable to walk from village to village. This forces families to live on the food they have cropped during the rest of the year, and it creates a massive starvation problem throughout the area. The region has extremely limited healthcare facilities, schools and other infrastructure.

  • Humli people are rich in culture but are often forgotten in Nepal. Communities in Humla suffer entrenched disadvantage and poverty as a result of the region's remoteness and harsh weather conditions. The situation for children and young people is dire. The education, housing and basic infrastructure are very poor, healthcare facilities are scarce, and most people have inadequate sanitation and limited food. There is almost no cash economy, which limits the prospects of gainful employment for adults and makes it hard for them to provide for their families.

    Beyond the geographical and weather-specific disadvantages, Humla has also been damaged by war. During the civil war between the Maoists and the Government, desperate families fell afoul of child traffickers. The traffickers convinced some well-meaning parents to pay for their children to be taken to Kathmandu under misleading promises of safety and education. Thousands of children were taken and crammed into dismal homes in appalling conditions. These children were also at serious risk of ending up in the sex or slave trade.

  • We knew that improving access to healthcare in this remote and mountainous area would not be quick or easy. Since that first trip in 1998, The ISIS Foundation and Adara Development made a long-term commitment to the Humla people.

    Since the beginning of our work in Humla, Adara has been initiating and managing primary healthcare projects through an integrated approach to community development. In particular, we recognise the critical link between health and education, and we believe funding appropriate education projects will directly improve children's health as they come to understand and learn about the importance of hygiene and sanitation. As such, our work has always been focussed in these key areas.

  • While working in Humla in 2004, Adara heard appalling stories of traffickers taking children from Humla to Kathmandu. We sent staff to investigate and found 136 children from Humla living in horrendous conditions in Kathmandu. We knew we had to act fast to save these children. So Adara (then The ISIS Foundation) immediately established a presence in Kathmandu and fought hard to extract these children from the traffickers.

    We began to support the children from the day we found them and urgently sought to gain full custodial rights. This day finally came in 2006, when we were able to obtain full guardianship of all 136 children. We moved them to safe and comfortable homes in Kathmandu and set up the the ISIS Children's Foundation, a local NGO, to care for the children while we worked out a longer-term strategy for supporting them to live safe, happy lives and if possible, reuniting them back with their families in Humla.

    During the early years of the Nepali conflict, we identified some outstanding local non-profit organisations. They were doing amazing work to provide health and education support to marginalised communities right in the capital city. Some of these organisations were struggling to stay afloat. Recognising that their work aligned with our development philosophy and overall goals, we partnered with them to support their efforts and in turn help communities in need.

HUMLA PLAN 2011-2013
  • Seeing the impact of our work, we identified the need for a more extensive, village-focussed plan to provide targeted support for building community infrastructure in Humla. With the the ISIS Children's Foundation, we established a village-by-village project plan, called the Humla Plan, to enhance the development of the Humli communities in education, health, income generation and environment.

    This extensive plan spans a three-year period and covers many focus areas and objectives, including to:

    1. repair and build community infrastructure and train the villagers on how to maintain it
    2. increase health and hygiene awareness, provide health services, refer villagers, and examine causes of high disability rates in the area
    3. increase the quantity, quality and affordability of education in Humla
    4. combat child trafficking in Humla and repatriate trafficked children
    5. increase employment and income-generation opportunities in Humla
    6. establish baseline surveys in new villages and measure impact of projects


  • 83% of Nepal's population live in rural areas

  • The average life expectancy in Nepal is 68.8 years old

  • 17% of the total population in Nepal live in urban areas

  • 25.2% of Nepal's population is living in poverty

  • 15.5% of Nepal's urban population live below poverty line

  • 27.4% of the rural population in Nepal live below the national rural poverty line

  • The annual growth rate in Humla is 2.28%

  • The population of Humla is 51,008

  • The number of households in Humla is 9,494

  • The average size household in Humla is 5.37

  • The population density in Humla is 9 people per square kilometre



A landlocked nation, Nepal claims a distinctive natural and cultural climate with…
read more here



Humla is a region in north-west Nepal, bordering the Tibet autonomous region. It is considered remote even by Nepalis and has no operational roads. Humla fares poorly - they have the nation's lowest literacy rate, higher than average maternal and infant mortality, and harsh winters which lead to food shortages for people who are snowed in for months. The region is accessible by two weeks' walk from the nearest road, or by light plane from the Indian border to Simikot, the 'capital' of Humla, at around 9800 feet. From there, villages are only accessible by foot or by horse.


Nepalgunj is a small town on the Indian Nepal border and the ‘gateway’ to Humla. From the Nepalgunj airport, tiny planes fly into the imposing Himalayas ferrying cargo, people and goats to Humla and other hard-to-reach towns in Nepal’s north-west. Many Humli people come to Nepalgunj to search out facilities not available in Humla, such as healthcare, education and trade facilities. Adara has an office in Nepalgunj.


Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and the largest city in the valley beneath the mountains. It is a vibrant city with many working people, bright colours and busy markets. Though Kathmandu is a bustling metropolitan region, it is still rife with poverty. It is also a central point for traffickers bringing children from the mountainous regions to be kept in usually very poor conditions. Adara Development and the ISIS Children's Foundation have offices in Kathmandu.