16 Oct Responding to climate change in Nepal
The damaging effects of climate change are impacting many people’s lives in Nepal. As the climate crisis intensifies, people in Nepal face the threats of increasingly severe and unpredictable weather.
In Nepal this raises the risks of natural disasters which damage people’s homes and livelihoods, including floods, landslides, extreme heat, droughts, storms, and fires.
Monsoon season is a peak time for floods and landslides, but Nepalis now face its increasing strength and variability. The changing climate has delayed and extended monsoon season, so there can be heavy rain when crops need to be harvested. Last year, in Banke and Bardiya districts there were floods during harvesting, so a lot of people lost their crops.
Nepal’s towering Himalayan peaks also provide further evidence of our warming planet, as the melting glaciers on the globe’s ‘third pole’ cause more flash-floods.
Esther Gurung, INF Nepal’s Community Programme Manger, said: “Food insecurity is one of the biggest issues impacted by climate change which affects people in rural Nepal. The severity of the challenge people face depends on how much land they have and the amount of crops they can harvest, so some can grow enough food for 6 months a year but for many others it might only be 2 or 3 months.”
Climate change therefore presents a higher risk to families living in the greatest poverty in remote villages, so the most vulnerable Nepalis face the greatest consequences.
About 70 per cent of Nepal’s working population relies on small-scale subsistence agriculture2. In rural areas that rises even higher so men are forced to find work abroad, often spending at least 6 months a year in India or other Nepali districts.
Adapting to help families flourish
Our Nepali partners are helping the most disadvantaged communities adapt to minimise the impacts on people’s livelihoods.
For example, supporters like you are helping fund an INF Nepal project in part of Bajura district where only about 20% of land is cultivated for agriculture and a meagre 2% of that is irrigated, so farmers are almost totally dependent on rainfall.
A similar INF project covers the districts of Kapilvastu and Rolpa, while other work has been taking place in other INF working areas.
Esther is encouraged by seeing how these projects sow seeds of hope: “People are improving their lives by making changes and initiating new climate adaptation plans, such as cultivating their land and growing new types of vegetables.
“Adopting more modern agricultural techniques can include using polyhouses and crop rotation to produce more food, and drip irrigation systems to improve water supply.
“Awareness is another important issue. People are being affected by climate change but there is a lack of understanding, so we are making people more aware about the impacts on their future livelihoods and how they can adapt. We also do workshops and training with policy-makers, so authorities can take ownership of the changes that need to happen.”