Nepal flood raises tensions with India

Ramesh Prasad Bhushal

Residents of Nepal feel Indian authorities worsened recent flood effects by releasing water from a dam upstream, a charge India denies

Since mid-June, videos on Facebook and other social sites have been showing multi-storeyed buildings plunging one by one into the swollen Mahakali river flowing through Khalanga Bazaar of Darchula district in far-western Nepal, bordering India’s Uttarakhand state.

Crying helplessly, people had to watch their houses plunge into the river. They had to lose their property earned in decades in just a couple of hours.

This remote area of Nepal had not witnessed such intense flood in Mahakali river in the last 50 years, says a report of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Lives were lost and property worth billions was damaged. Thousands are still homeless.

There was a massive flood in Karnali river as well, in Kanchanpur district in the region. Water flow rate in Karnali was measured at 18,460 cubic feet per second (cusec), the highest in the last 100 years.

The tragedy in Uttarakhand grabbed global media attention. Residents of western Nepal suffered the same, but with far less attention paid to their plight.

It was a totally unexpected event for the locals who were not yet prepared to welcome the monsoon this year. The monsoon that usually arrives in this part of Nepal in the last week of June brings joy to the farmers as it is the season for sowing paddy. Eighty per cent of Nepal’s annual rainfall is received in the four monsoon months from June to September. But this year, the monsoon came to far western Nepal with a load of trouble.
The weathermen had failed to predict the heavy mid-June rainfall and had not issued any flood alert.

Now the experts are saying the very heavy rainfall was due to a collision between the monsoon winds and westerly winds from Europe via central Asia.

But the locals do not think the flooding is primarily due to the rainfall. They are blaming the release of water by Indian authorities. They claim that a large quantity of water was released by the Indian authorities from the Dhauliganga dam upstream.

Media reports quote technicians at the Water Induced Disaster Prevention Divisional Office in Darchula as saying the same. Ministers and senior bureaucrats of the Nepal government have said in various media interviews and on public forums that locals are concerned about Indian government activities. The Nepal government wants a joint committee of the two countries to discuss the issues, but no committee has been formed yet. As the controversy heightened, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu stated that no water had been released by India and that Indian authorities had no role in the floods.

Disputes over dam construction along the India-Nepal border are not new. The two countries have over a dozen agreements on water use and flood control in the rivers they share. But local residents and officials in Nepal often complain that these agreements are not implemented fairly, and that Indian authorities dominate the decisions on how the water is to be used and when it is to be released from dams.

Having faced such intense floods at the very beginning of the monsoon, the people of Nepal are wondering what the rest of the season has in store for them.

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Climate diplomacy


Surrounded by two giant economies—China and India—and with a massive presence of development agencies representing developed nations, Nepal is under pressure to find a way to diplomatically tackle intense global climate politics, and raise its voice effectively at the global platform. Nepal’s dependence on donor countries for developmental works, and the necessity to maintain neutral relations with neighbors on various political, cultural and economic issues call for caution and tact in dealing with climate change issues. Recently selected as the chair of least developed countries (LDCs), the pressure to act effectively and responsibility is mounting for the country, as expectations from member countries grow.

Developed countries are demanding that along with them, rapidly growing economies like China and India be legally bound to reduce emissions of green house gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide. However, countries like China and India are of the view that developed countries have already reaped enormous benefits even as they have polluted the world. Hence they should be proactive on climate change and take the lead by binding themselves legally to cut GHG emissions, rather than ask the developing nations to make the sacrifice. This is the crux of global negotiations. But many other issues embedded in climate politics have made it complex. Until and unless these issues are resolved, there is little chance that the countries will arrive at a solution that can be implemented globally through legally binding provisions. These issues have been debated for the last two decades.


Many take climate change as just an environmental problem to be settled through multilateral environmental agreements between countries, but it is not that simple. Climate change is not only about rainfall patterns and floods, it is not just an agenda of agricultural and environment sectors.

In the developed world, big businesses have a hold over oil market. They invest huge amounts to convince people that climate change is propaganda and that there is no need to worry. Many politicians in the US, especially the Republicans, believe that there is no such thing as climate change, leave alone express their readiness to fight it. Climate change deniers are scattered all over the developed world, and are as active as climate activists in developing and least developed countries. There are still arguments at the global level on the reliability of facts and figures presented by the scientific community on climate change, but most scientists agree that the reality of climate change can no longer be denied, with its effects visible all around.

Along with arguments over whether or not climate change is real, there is another fear that threatens climate negotiations. The developing world fears that the developed world is trying to decelerate the pace of their development by placing a millstone around their necks in the name of carbon emission reduction. Though it is not expressed in negotiations, the developed world, it is feared, doesn’t want the developing countries to grow unconditionally, as the carbon emission reduction provision in the Kyoto Protocol (an agreement between the countries under United Nations) places legally binding obligations on them. They want this provision to be extended to the developing countries as well.

Caught in this clash of egos and world powers are poor and vulnerable countries like Nepal that have been trying to convince both the parties of the urgent need to deal with these issues and come up with a workable solution. Poor and least developed countries cannot do much to solve the problem, as it is beyond their control. They have no option but to convince the developed world to support them in fighting climate change and to urge the developed world to take immediate steps to reduce GHGs like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The negotiations are getting tougher by the day due to growing pressures interest from various vested groups. Developed and developing countries have been sending veteran diplomats to climate change negotiations to make sure that each gets the favorable end of the deal. The missions attending the global negotiations are growing, and the tension during the talks indicates the countries are taking the issue seriously.
Poor countries have no option but to try to convince the developed world to help them fight climate change.
Amidst this complexity, Nepal has become the leader of 49 LDCs. In the next two years, it needs to be at its diplomatic best to deal with other members of LDC group as well as the rest of the world. As a nation, it can compromise on many issues, but as a leader, it must satisfy the other 48 LDCs, and make sure their voices are heard clearly in global debates, a tricky and risky prospect. With its selection as LDC chair on climate change, Nepal needs to urgently mobilize its diplomatic community to establish its leadership in climate change negotiations and send a message to the global community that despite political instability at home, Nepal is capable of effectively fulfilling this global responsibility.

The country’s diplomatic community, for which environmental agenda like climate change is a matter of low priority, should now be retrained and made proactive to establish the country as a leader in climate change. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment should try to convince diplomatic missions that climate change is not just an environmental agenda, but a great opportunity to establish effective diplomatic leadership in the global arena. Climate change, as such, should not be taken just as a responsibility of the Environment or Forest Ministry, or seen only in terms of the projects that will enter the country in coming years. Definitely, the Environment Ministry is the focal agency in dealing with climate change, but it is the government of Nepal as a whole that has become the chair of LDCs group; the nation should act collectively to prove to the global community that Nepal is a good leader. According to a Chinese proverb, “If the lips are gone, the teeth will grow cold.” In other words, if two parties share a common interest and one is hurt, the other will be too. It will be Nepal’s challenge to convince the global community of this fact.

Published in the Republica English daily…..

Call of the wild


Body parts of more than 1,400 tigers have been seized across Asia in last 13 years, which is about half of the world’s total population of wild tigers (estimated at 3,200). The report published by TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, titled Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited , revealed this alarming fact during the meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok last week. This shows how rapidly the illegal trade of wildlife parts has grown globally. Not only the tigers but many wild animals including elephants and rhinos have been poached and many will fall prey to illegal traders if conditions remain the same.

Poaching of African Rhino in South Africa has grown from 13 in 2007 to 658 in 2012. In last decade more than 1,500 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. Likewise, in 2011 an estimated 25,000 to 40,000 elephants were killed by poachers for ivory trade in Africa. Many more crimes remain unreported. This is more than enough to illustrate that the global wildlife crime is increasing rapidly and actions taken by governments is inadequate.

With this global scenario, the South Asian region—comprising of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka—that is home for 15 percent of the world flora and 12 percent of fauna has also been hit hard by networks highly active in transnational organized wildlife crimes. Despite efforts of governments and other concerned agencies to nab the poachers, the criminal networks are using advanced technology and exploiting weak law enforcement to transport wildlife body parts in the region.

Billions of dollars are invested across the globe to conserve forests and wildlife, while millions of people are committed to saving these endangered species. But at the same time well-networked criminal groups are earning billions by selling wildlife body parts and plant species, thus threatening many endangered flora and fauna. If this trend continues, the efforts of the world conservation community in the last few decades will go to waste. The world now has to realize that unless immediate actions are not taken and joint efforts are not initiated to nab the criminals and break their strong networks, the future generation will have no option than looking at posters and pamphlets of many species now in endangered list.

According to estimates, the annual transaction in animal body parts is more than US $10 billion, turning it into the third largest illegal trade after weapons and drugs. On the one hand wildlife are facing problems due to habitat degradation, human encroachment in the jungles and parks, rapid urbanization and increasing human population and their demand for forest products and at another hand, criminal networks are targeting the species and killing them for money, which might ultimately result in the extinction of the species that are already threatened or endangered.

There are some encouraging signs as the wildlife trade has started to receive attention of leaders across the globe, including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On November 8, 2012 Clinton gave a rare keynote speech on wildlife trafficking at her office in Washington DC where US diplomats from all over the world were invited. “Over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before,” she said while also admitting that the US is the second largest consumer of the wild body parts. The seriousness of top level leaders in US has been applauded by the conservation community.

China is said to be the largest consumer of wildlife body parts. However, the number of consumers is increasing all around the world. With the economic boom, the number who can afford expensive wildlife body parts has also increased demand that has encouraged the criminals. The organized criminal networks are using poor families near national parks and protected areas for poaching and are trading body parts of poached animals through various trade routes across the globe. South Asia is one of the major trade routes. The traders in illegal wildlife parts have been using various routes to smuggle body parts into China and South East Asia as well as bringing various parts of South Asia.

The issue of illegal wildlife trade entered the global arena in 1960’s and in 1973, the international agreement called Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) was signed, with the goal of controlling wildlife trade. Till date 177 countries are parties to the convention. The sixteenth meeting of the parties to the convention was held in Bangkok in the first two weeks of March where the trade issue was debated with gusto. Though governments across the globe had realized as far ago as 40 years that wildlife crime needs to be dealt seriously, their actions proved to be inadequate to control the rapidly growing illegal trade of species all over the world.

The governments agreed in Bangkok that only strong enforcement of laws related to wildlife crime could help curb this problem but at present, there is lack of adequate information sharing between the countries on illegal wildlife trade. There is still very little willingness to share information regionally and globally. As animals are poached in one country and transported to another, there needs to be a cooperation and collaboration mechanism between the countries and strong willingness to share available information and intelligence as fast as possible so that the traders can be nabbed and punished on time. This is yet to happen in South Asia, even though there have been some initiatives in last few years.

Though late, action against wildlife crimes is increasing and governments have started to act more seriously. Almost all regions in the globe have established regional networks to act closely and enhance cooperation and collaboration to fight wildlife crime, which has raised hope in conservation sector. In South Asia, eight countries have established a regional network called South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). The government of Nepal hosts the permanent secretariat in Kathmandu which has been working to enhance cooperation among member countries.

It’s not easy for the countries to share all information due to security reasons, but they can definitely share information regarding wildlife as wild animals have no political boundary and we are all in the common cause of saving wildlife in the region, which in turn will be instrumental in saving global ecosystems. The willingness of the countries in South Asia to enhance cooperation and collaboration to fight illegal wildlife crime has cheered up the conservation community, for it is the one and only way of curbing illegal transnational trade of wildlife.

50 per cent of Wetlands lost globally in last one century: UN


HYDERABAD (INDIA), Oct 17: The most important Ecosystem in the Earth- the Wetlands, are depleting so rapidly that half of them have disappeared from the earth in last one century, according to the United Nations report launched today in Hyderabad, India.

“In last one century, the world lost an estimated 50 per cent of its wetlands, while recent coastal wetland loss in some places, notably East Asia, has been up to 1.6 per cent a year,” said the report ´The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands´

The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.

The wetlands were lost mainly due to factors such as intensive agricultural production, unsustainable water extraction for domestic and industrial use, urbanization, infrastructure development and pollution, the report said.

Nepal boasts of nine wetlands of international importance recognized by Ramsar Convention and is also the signatory of the convention. “Countries like Nepal which is poor may have to face more threats as the urbanisation is rapid and the country has other more pressing priorities,” Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General of Ramsar Convention Secretariat told Republica.

But experts said governments all over the world were slowly giving recognition to wetlands and their importance which is appreciable. “It´s not enough. The key role that rapidly diminishing wetlands play in supporting human life and biodiversity needs to be recognized more and integrated into decision making as a vital component of the transition to a resource efficient, sustainable world economy,” added Davidson.

According to the report, water security is widely regarded as one of the key natural resource challenges currently facing the world, and human drivers of ecosystem change including destructive extractive industries, unsustainable agriculture and poorly managed urban expansion are posing threat to global freshwater biodiversity and water security for eighty percent of the world´s population.

“Policies and decisions often do not take into account the many services that wetlands provide-thus leading to the rapid degradation and loss of wetlands globally, said UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner.

According to the Ramsar Convention, Inland wetlands cover at least 9.5 million square kilometers (about 6.5 per cent of the Earths land surface). “If we undervalue wetlands in our decisions for economic growth, we do at our increasing peril for people´s livelihoods and the world´s economies, added Davidson.

Published on 2012-10-17 05:40:02

Developed countries to double funding on biodiversity conservation


HYDERABAD (India), Oct 21: The developed countries of the world have agreed to double the funding to reduce biodiversity loss in the developing countries by 50 percent.

At the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) held in Hyderabad, the developing countries had stressed the need for adequate funding to take urgent actions to reduce the rapid loss of biodiversity. Around 150 countries participated in the two-week long convention that concluded Saturday.

The developed countries agreed to double the funding to support efforts in developing countries toward meeting the internationally agreed biodiversity targets and the main goals of the strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020 was agreed two years ago during the meeting Japan.

According to the secretariat of the convention, the developed countries using a baseline figure of the average annual national spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010, would double biodiversity- related international financial flows by 2015.

The developing and least developed countries have long been demanding more investments from developed countries on saving the planet´s biodiversity as the rapid and rampant developmental works and population growth has threatened life of many flora and fauna in terrestrial ecosystems and aquatic lives in marine ecosystem.

“These results, coming in a period of economic crisis, demonstrate that the world is committed to implementing the convention on biodiversity. We see that governments are moving forward in the implementation and seeing biodiversity as an opportunity to be realized more than a problem to be solved,” said Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias.

The Hyderabad meeting which is the eleventh meeting of the countries has also set targets to increase the number of countries that have included biodiversity in their development plans.

For the first time, developing countries including India and several African states pledged additional funds above and beyond their core funding for conservation of bio-diversity.

The Global Environment Facility, the financial mechanism of the convention, for the first time, was provided with an assessment of the financial resources required to meet the needs of developing countries for implementing the convention.

“The present economic crisis should not deter us, but on the contrary encourage us to invest more towards amelioration of the natural capital for ensuring uninterrupted ecosystem services, on which all life on earth depends,” said Jayanthi Natarajan, minister for Environment and Forests, India.

The meeting adopted recommendations for improving the sustainable use and management of species hunted for ´bushmeat´ in the tropical and sub -tropical regions, where large-scale hunting and trade of animals has led to empty forest syndrome.

“Mobilizing the necessary financial resources from the public and private sector needed to ensure achievement of the 2020 targets remains a challenge — but here in India, many nations including developing economies have signaled their determination and sense of urgency to seize the opportunities by providing much needed additional support,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme.

Two years ago the tenth meeting of the countries in Japan had agreed to implement strategic plan(2011-2020) which among many other points said that the rate of loss of all natural habitats including forests, would at least be halved and where feasible brought close to zero and as well as significantly reduce degradation and fragmentation by 2020.

Likewise, the strategic plan had also agreed to establish a conservation target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water resources and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas whereas restore at least 15 per cent of degraded areas through conservation and restoration activities globally.

Published on 2012-10-21 07:00:59

Rich nation promises on climate change mostly broken: Report


Just before the global meeting on climate change started Monday in Doha, Qatar, where thousands including government officials from more than 190 countries have gathered to discuss how to tackle the earth´s rising temperature and its negative effects, a greatly detailed financial analysis has disclosed that the rich nations have failed to fulfill the promises they made in past years to support poor nations.

“So far, only $23.6 billion of the $30 billion promised has been committed. And only 20 percent of the money has been allocated to projects that will help poor nations adapt to a changing climate,” mentiond the report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

The wealthier nations promised in 2009 to provide developing countries with US$30 billion by the end of 2012, and said this should be “new and additional” finance balanced between support for adaptation and mitigation activities.

They made additional pledges about transparency, governance and the need to help the most vulnerable nations first. But the countries have not even fully committed their pledges.

The study also revealed that half the support provided was in loans and the remaining was grants, which means poor countries must repay with interest the cost of adapting to a problem they have not caused.

Aside from money, the report says that rich nations have not even provided enough transparent information to prove that their contributions are really new and not just diverted from existing aid budgets.

To examine transparency in more detail, the researchers evaluated donor nations across 24 measures. On the resulting scorecard, no donor nation scored more than 67 percent.

“Without transparency about how and when rich countries will meet their climate finance pledges, developing countries are left unable to plan to adequately address and respond to climate change,” says co-author Timmons Roberts of Brown University in the United States, whose Climate and Development Lab led the research.

On these measures, Norway has performed best, providing five times its fair share. At the other end of the scale, both Iceland and the United States contributed less than half their fair share.

David Ciplet, also of Brown University, added “Only two of the ten donors we assessed are delivering their fair share of climate finance, based on their ability to pay and how much they have contributed to climate change through emitting greenhouse gases in recent decades.”

The broken promises will make it harder for developing countries to take seriously what richer nations say at the UN climate change talks that kicked off Monday in Qatar.

The poor track record of rich nations in meeting their fast-start finance pledges has raised serious concerns that these countries will also renege on their bigger promise to ensure that $100 billion flows to developing nations each year by 2020 to help them respond to climate change.

“With trust in short supply, and little time to negotiate a global response to climate change, the UN talks need an injection of goodwill,” says IIED´s Saleemul Huq. “The rich nations can provide this by making good on their past promises and showing the poorer nations that they are serious about working together to tackle this global challenge.”

Major findings of the report
Finance is not adequate
Only Japan and Norway committed their ´fair share´ of climate finance
Only one-fifth of climate finance supports adaptation in developing countries despite commitments to balance funding between adaptation and mitigation
Contributor countries are not being transparent. Only Switzerland received a ´pass grade´ in this year´s transparency scorecard
UN Climate Funds remain empty shells. Only two percent of climate finance is being delivered through the UN Climate Funds.

Climate change? Most Nepalis are unaware of it!


Thousands of people gather every year at UN climate negotiation forums and discuss how to tackle climate change – one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, according to scientists and leaders. It’s not a new story, as people have been debating on the issue for the last two decades globally but failed to reach a consensus on how to move forward to tackle the problem by reducing the emission of carbon dioxide gas—a major culprit for global warming.

The science of climate change says that due to the massive developmental works by the developed countries in the past one century, the emission of greenhouse gases—the gas that helps to increase the surface temperature of the earth – increased, resulting in an unusual increase of the Earth’s temperature, threatening the only habitable planet. The change in temperature changes weather patterns, rainfall patterns resulting into negative effects to agriculture and many other sectors.

But those who are at the forefronts of climate change and would be affected most are unaware of what’s happening at global and national level and the science of climate change. More than 100 people whom I interviewed while traveling in many parts of the country said they haven’t heard the word in their entire life. Those interviewed ranged from pedestrians to porters and farmers to drivers. Not only that they don’t know about climate change, almost all said they don’t know whether there is Ministry of Environment in the country or not.

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology is the focal ministry to deal on climate change, especially at international forums and national policy level. There is the Climate Change Council headed by the Prime Minister, a separate division at the Environment Ministry to look over the issues and dozens of million-dollar projects already completed and more in the pipeline. There is no donor agency which may not have worked on climate change and hundreds of NGOs working on it. But with that influx of money on advocacy and awareness in the last one decade, the information has not reached to those who are really in the need.

Nepal has been categorized as the 4th most vulnerable country in the world due to climate change, glacier melt in unusually rapid in recent years, and rainfall pattern is said to be changing. However, most people in the country were found totally uninformed about what’s happening at the global and national level on climate change talks despite the large amounts of money spent by national and international agencies, including Nepal Government.

One cold November morning at the foothills of Shivapuri National Park on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley, Kanchhi Tamang of Arkhauli Village in Nuwakot District was worried about some tablets of cetamol she needed for her daughter. Forget about climate change and government initiatives, she doesn’t even know that her government provides some essential drugs free of cost in the health post.

Nor does Nawaraj Adhikari of Jhor Village in the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley know what the government is doing or where international negotiations are heading to. Even people at the outskirts of the capital are unaware of one of the most debated and challenging problems of this century—climate change.

“I don’t know any activities of anybody, including the government, but there has been massive change in weather pattern, and the availability of water is declining,” said Tamang who instead asked this reporter where she can get a few tablets of cetamol as her daughter is suffering from fever.

For experts, there are too many documents to read, for government agencies and other civil society organizations, there are lots of issues to be raised at international forums, for international community there are lots of economic and political agenda on climate change. But for the people who are most vulnerable to changing climate, it is one of the many unheard or untold stories.

Nawaraj Adhikari works as a guard of the National Park in Shivapuri. He was a professional hunter for the royal family before monarchy was abolished in the country.

“My entire life remained very close to forests. What I feel is there has been significant changes in weather and the winter days are hotter than those we felt a few decades ago and summers are getting much hotter,” said he. But he doesn’t know why it’s happenng. There were others in the village who also feel the same.

Murari Lamichhane owns a motorbike workshop in Jhor Village and he also feels the same. “Our parents used to say that they had to sell oxen and buy blankets even during summer. But now children play in T-shirts in September and October,” added Lamichhane.

From the the capital city, let’s move to Sindhupalchowk, only a few hours’ drive from Kathmandu. In Melamchi, some farmers/porters were found carrying milk to the dairy. Totally soaked in sweat, they were on a short rest in the morning while heading to Melamchi Bazaar.

Dip Bahadur Thapa and Jit Bahadur Thapa are farmers from Jyamire Village in Sindhupalchowk. They collect milk from the villagers and carry it to Melamchi Bazaar everyday for which they earn Rs 200 per day.

“We don’t know anything about climate change initiatives, nor have we been informed through any means from the government or other organizations,” both said. “There’s been huge change in the weather system and we can feel that. But we don’t know why it’s happening. May be god is angry and he wants this earth to be collapsed,” Jit Bahadur said in a fading voice.

For the last two decades, the world is discussing carbon dioxide which is the major responsible gas for global warming. Scientists have confirmed and advised governments globally to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide as soon as possible to save the planet. But Melamchi folks are predicting it as god’s work.

Moving northward from Melamchi to Nepal China border in Tatopani Bazaar, Sonam Sherpa is much worried about the hassles created by the border police both in Nepal and China rather than climate change. Scientists have been reiterating that mountains with icecaps would soon turn into rocks if the temperature increases at the same trend. But the folks at the foothills are rather worried about the business.

“What is climate change? I don’t know anything,” Sherpa said. Himalayan glaciers are the mostly debated issue globally by the media and scientists. But those at the foothills, the mountain people are totally unaware of what the global community is talking about their landscapes.

From the Nepal-China border, moving downhill to the plains of the southern parts of Nepal bordering with India, the condition is the same. In Chitwan District that also borders with India, there is high flow of tourists at the entrance of the Chitwan National Park in Sauraha—one of the major touristic hubs in the country.

Hiralal Chaudhary has a cart and looks a bit happy as the tourist season has just started. “Maybe I can earn a bit more and feed my family,” said Chadhary.

During the five-kilometer drive on his cart, I asked him many questions regarding climate change, government programs, and international negotiations and about the money the country has been receiving in the name of climate change. But he said he didn’t know anything as it wasn’t his concern. “No one has told me anything about it. And why should I care?” he said.

Some US$700 million has been received by Nepal from donor agencies on climate change in the last one decade and most of the projects were focused on awareness and advocacy.

As per the report, “Future of Climate Finance in Nepal,” more than 50% of the total money invested in climate change was spent on awareness and advocacy but the real victims –the poorest in the country – are fully unaware of the money spent, or the programs launched in their names.

If you look into it, the government has already prepared a document called National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and endorsed by the Cabinet two years ago. Climate change policy has already been approved by the government. Many other documents have been prepared for each project but people who should have received money to fight against climate change have not even received information that could help them plan to adapt in changing climate.

The writer is the Social Bureau coordinator at Republica.

Govt frets as donors divert funds to climate change


KATHMANDU, Nov 5: The increasing trend of the use of Official Development Assistance (ODA) by donor agencies for climate change activities has worried the government.

According to the report ´ The Future of Climate Finance in Nepal´, published by the Overseas Development Institute in the UK, about $650 million in international public grant finance has been made available for the country by donor agencies in last one decade and all of the funds are under ODA.

ODA money provided by developed countries to support poor countries is basically used on developmental work, including essential services such as health and education. But in the past few years, donor agencies have been slowly shifting the ODA money to climate change activities, and the government fears that it would face a funding crunch in the development sector if the trend continues.

“In the past, climate change was not in the bilateral programmes of donor agencies, but in recent agreements under ODA, this is one of the major programmes proposed by donors,” said Under Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Hari Prasad Pandey.

He added that if the trend continues, developmental work would suffer due to lack of funds as more money gets shifted to climate change activities.
“We face unlimited demand by people in development sector and ODA is one of the major fundings to meet that demand. If the funding is shifted to climate activities, there could be a problem in future,” Pandey added.

As per the commitment made by developed countries during international negotiations on climate change, they should provide additional funds (not from ODA) to countries like Nepal to fight climate change. But that´s not happening.

“Climate change funding has to be additional to ODA, not part of the funds that developed countries were providing to poor countries for decades as ODA,” said Dr Dinesh Chandra Devkota, fomer vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission. “Things will be in a mess if this continues,” he added.

At international climate change negotiations, developed countries had committed themselves to providing $30 billion by 2012 to poor countries to fight climate change, and this was named ´Fast Start Finance´. But this basket fund established under the UN Convention on Climate Change is almost empty as those countries have not put the pledged money in it.

“The problem with climate finance is that developed countries pledge funding but don´t put it in the basket as they pledged; so it has become like a business on credit for poor countries like Nepal that are highly vulnerable to climate change,” said Raju Pandit Chhetri, an expert on climate finance.

On one hand, the country hasn´t received the money pledged at international climate negotiations and on the other, money that used to be spent on developmental work has become reduced after donor interest shifted to climate change activities. Not only that, another issue that worries experts is that in many cases developed countries have been reporting ODA money used on developmental work as money for the climate change fund.

Experts on climate change say it would be highly unfair to put ODA money into climate-related activities and term this as support provided under the climate change fund.

“Donors may use the money for climate-related activities but the problem is that many times, the ODA money used for climate activities has been reported as Fast Track Finance money,” said Manjeet Dhakal, another expert on climate change, who has been following international climate negotiations for years.

The experts say that the way developed countries have been using ODA for climate change work would have a huge impact on other sectors in the country. So the developed countries should put additional money into climate change activities under the UN Climate Change Convention.

“There is huge dependency on ODA for many sectors in the country; so developed countries should provide additional funds to fight climate change rather than using the funding provided for developmental work,” said Prof. Madan Koirala at the Central Department of Environmental Science at Tribhuvan University.