Nepal: Taking On The Challenge Of Climate Change

Climate change is a hot topic in Nepal now as studies show that many people in the country are facing hunger due to frequent droughts and melting glaciers are also threatening millions. The country heavily depends on tourism and agriculture to sustain its economy and climate change could seriously hurt these two sectors.

“Changing weather patterns have dramatically affected crop production in Nepal, leaving farmers unable to properly feed themselves and pushing them into debt, ” Oxfam says in a report.

Chandan Sapkota, a Junior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also thinks that the effect of climate change on Nepal's agricultural sector warrants immediate attention:

“Late monsoon will decrease agriculture production, which is the backbone of the economy and more than 70 percent of the population depend on it for living. This will also have a huge impact on economic growth rate and per capita income.”

Nepal - Island Peak - Impressive glacier icefall below peak, Image by Flickr user mckaysavage

Nepal – Island Peak (Imja Tse)- Impressive glacier icefall below peak, Image by Flickr user mckaysavage

Climate change is also having serious impacts on Nepal's pristine Himalaya mountain range and the surrounding communities. Phil Butler at Pamil Visions notes the dangers of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Supported by satellite pictures he has posted an in depth analysis of the endangered glaciers and the rising glacial lakes to show the urgency of the situation.

“These high glacial lakes (..) have risen in some cases by as much as 45 percent. Satellite imagery reveals without a doubt, severe melting of these crucial glaciers, still further evidence that global climactic change is proceeding at an accelerated rate. Hundreds of millions of people in the region that depends on the water from these glaciers will be negatively effected in way we cannot envision or predict accurately.”

Nepal's “meltdown” has prompted many international environment organizations to look into the issue seriously, although the government in Kathmandu is still dragging its feet when it comes to serious long term planning on climate change issues.

This video from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows the impact of climate change on villagers and ecosystem of a mountainous village in Nepal.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in partnership with UNEP and the Asia Pacific Network has released this video to show the impact of climate change on Nepal's glaciers.

The Nepalese government's inaction aside, works of international organizations like WWF and ICIMOD are beginning to have an effect on the country's conscience. Various citizen and youth groups are being formed across the country to raise awareness about climate change.

Nepalese Youth For Climate Action is one such group. They call for stricter worldwide emission standard, encourage sustainable development by emphasizing on indigenous knowledge and industry, rally for investment on clean energy and seek more awareness in Nepal about climate change.

There are also efforts to provide training and resources to enhance the cause of climate change action by the private sector. Bhajumahesh reports that an eight day South Asian workshop (17th August -24th August 2009) was organized by PANOS South Asia-PSA to:

“build the capacity of media and other communication practitioners on climate change issues and the role of communications by applying ICTs for local content development, networking, knowledge sharing, to enable them to produce multimedia local contents on climate change communications in South Asia.”

As the country's government is sidetracked by political infighting, the Nepalese private sector and many ordinary citizens are leading the charge on climate change actions, showing the power of the people.


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