The KEP offers employment to poor households in Karnali, allowing them to rely on a source of income during lean periods. This employment enhances the security, consumption and livelihoods of the poor, while it also fosters the local growth through the development of community assets. Due to the geographical remoteness and economic backwardness of Karnali region, many households face difficulties in sustaining their livelihood through traditional occupations, trade or employment throughout the year. Poverty and food insecurity are highly linked to lack of employment opportunities in this zone, so the Government of Nepal (GoN) made provisions for Karnali's regional development in the budget speech of FY 2063/64 (2006)(budget speech point nos. 84 to 90):
"Karnali Employment Programme [KEP] is introduced on a limited basis to provide relief to the families without employment in projects or development works or private sector employment or personal/family enterprise".
After years of implementation challenges and limited impact, the GoN is in the process of reforming the KEP based on a new vision for the programme. According to this new policy direction, the KEP aims to provide a Productive Safety Net (PSN) to poor Karnali households in order to help improve their ability to cope with seasonality and other socks, as well as increase their household livelihood security.In order to do this the KEP will become a PSN, which will support the most vulnerable of households in Karnali by offering them paid employment entitlements and additional support for livelihood enhancement.
Some key elements of the new KEP are: