Humla, situated in the north-western corner of Nepal on the border with China, is one of the poorest and least developed districts of Nepal. Constraints are imposed by low agricultural productivity in mountainous terrain under harsh climatic conditions. Food subsidies and other forms of external support have created a state of dependency, stifling local initiative and reducing reliance on local resources. Development efforts were hampered until recently by the Maoist insurgency. It was under such conditions that "Humla Development Initiatives" was formed to identify problems by conducting a needs assessment and work out solutions in close cooperation with local communities. Introducing improved water mills, promoting local food to substitute for subsidized rice, and cultivating nontimber forest products (NTFPs) on marginal farmland are some of the activities recently carried out to increase food security while reducing dependency on external support. Future activities include the establishment of community-based monitoring systems and cooperatives as the basis for the sustainability of the programme as well as for transferring ownership to the villagers.