Nepal tackles methane emissions through trash recycling

By Saleem Shaikh
October 23, 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Labourers work at the Biocomp-Nepal project site in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Saleem Shaikh

KATHMANDU, Nepal (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Nepal’s capital is recycling organic waste into compost in a bid to reduce methane emissions and provide cheap, environmentally friendly organic fertiliser to local farmers.

The scheme aims to tackle environmental degradation and reduce the health hazards from rotting produce.

Trash is a significant nuisance in Kathmandu, and organic matter accounts for almost 70 percent of the total waste generated daily in the city.

Many neighbourhoods in the capital are dirty and strewn with rubbish. Some markets look scarcely different from garbage dumps and streets are littered with discarded trash. Inadequate waste management in the Kathmandu Valley and a lack of dumps and landfills make the problem worse.

To address the problem, Biocomp-Nepal – a not-for-profit social enterprise –launched a year-long pilot project to recycle organic waste into compost in March 2011 in collaboration withmyclimate, a non-profit foundation based in Zurich. The foundation develops and supports projects around the world to reduce greenhouse gases.

During the pilot, the project collected organic waste every day from the Kalimat market, Kathmandu’s largest wholesale vegetable market, and composted it at a facility in Khokna, a village on the outskirts of the capital.

A total of 140 tons of fresh organic waste was collected and 15 tons of high-quality compost produced. The compost was sold to farmers who cultivate fields on the edges of Kathmandu, but local traders were pleased with the impact too.

CLEANING UP

“We are extremely happy that the surroundings of our vegetable market no longer get strewn with waste or rotten vegetables discarded in the open outside the market for want of proper dumping sites and … waste collections,” said Pitamber Gurung, a vegetable trader at the Kalimati market.

In January 2013, Biocomp-Nepal expanded its waste processing capacity to 20 tons a day, producing 3 to 4 tons of compost daily, to meet the demand for organic agricultural fertiliser in the Kathmandu valley.

According to Raju Khadka, Biocomp’s former project director in Nepal who now advises the project, the organisation is collaborating with myclimate to increase its collection capacity to 50 tons of vegetables and fruit by 2015, which will produce 7.5 tons of compost daily.

The waste will not just be sourced from vegetable markets such as Kalimati, he explained, but also from landfill sites and homes. The growing collections should help curb emissions of methane – a powerful climate-changing gas – and as well as reducing health problems associated with rotting trash.

Kathamandu Valley is a hub for agriculture due to its fertile and relatively flat land, and the majority of the vegetables sold at the Kalimati market are grown using chemical fertilisers to boost farm productivity.

Compost, a traditional fertiliser in the region, lost ground to chemical fertilisers as they became more widely available on the market, experts say. But the overuse of chemical fertilisers has caused soil fertility to decline globally, according to studies by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In contrast to chemical fertilisers, compost feeds the soil through its nutrient-rich organic matter. According to Khadka, it maintains soil fertility, reduces acidity, and stops nutrients from being washed away by rain. The compost improves the soil’s ability to let water percolate, helping to recharge underground aquifers and prevent desertification of fertile land, he said.

CHEAPER PRICE, BETTER CROP

Krishna Hari has been buying compost from Biocomp-Nepal for the past nine months to use on his land in Kirtipur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

“Before I used the compost fertiliser, I earned 35,000 Nepalese rupees (about $350) a year from my one acre land,” Hari said.

“But using the compost fertiliser has improved my income to 60,000 rupees” by boosting his yields per acre, he explained as he put small packages of compost into a cloth bag hanging from his bike at Biocomp-Nepal’s project site.

The compost is effective for twice as long as chemical fertiliser, according to Hari, and is cheaper too, at a rate of around $70 per ton rather than the $180 per ton for chemical fertiliser. Hari adds that other farmers have noted his improved results and started switching to compost.

Apart from these benefits, recycling vegetable waste into compost reduces methane emissions, said Khadka. Food waste is one of three main sources of methane, along with emissions from livestock and the mining and burning of fossil fuels.

Composting vegetable waste at the expanded rate of 50 tons a day has the potential to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 40,000 tons between 2012 and 2021, according to Khadka.

Biocomp-Nepal hopes to seek carbon credit financing through myclimate to scale up the project and make it self-sustaining.

The organisation also plans to offer training and demonstration sessions to meet the interest of community organisations from other areas of the country that want to create their own organic waste recycling programmes to counter the burden of rising fertiliser prices and address health hazards from decaying produce.

“Waste is a major problem in many cities of developing countries. The project can potentially be replicated in different places in Nepal or elsewhere in South Asia or the Asia-Pacific region where waste is a problem,” said Krishna Chandra Paudel, former secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

Weblink: http://www.trust.org/item/20131023115900-0irwm/

Pakistan’s mountain farmers struggle with erratic weather

By Saleem Shaikh
Thu, 31 Oct 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Short climate video story
Pakistan’s mountain farmers struggle with erratic weather

http://www.trust.org/item/20131031161044-3546f/

 

Farmer Bibi Baskiya describes the sudden cloudburst that damaged her maize crop just a few days from harvest time in Danyore, a village in Gilgit district in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin area. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

Farmers in north Pakistan valley welcome warmer climate, experts fret

By Saleem Shaikh 
Tue, 8 Oct 2013
AlertNet Climate, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Farmer Shehla Hayat describes how the abrupt shift from summer to winter in the Hunza-Nagar valley in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin has become a problem for vegetable and fruit farmers like her. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

KARIMABAD, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In the mountains of northern Pakistan, some farmers say rising temperatures are giving them bumper harvests, even as climate and agricultural experts worry about the consequences of warming for the glaciers that are vital for the country’s irrigation.

“Many years back, the weather used to remain cold and cloudy most of the year. But now we have (more) warm months that are helping our staple, cash and fruit crops to grow faster and longer, and post higher yields,” said Sultan Khan, a farmer in Karimabad, a village in the picturesque Hunza valley of Gilgit-Baltistan province.

Farmers in Hunza say maize never used to grow taller than 3 feet (1 metre) during its five-month season (June to October). But a longer growing period and warmer days are helping the stalks reach up to 7 feet (2 metres). The maize yield has increased by an estimated 20-25 percent, they add, and harvests of other crops are also bigger.

Nonetheless, farmers in this remote area also complain that a lack of government guidance has left them uncertain as to whether to adjust their planting schedules to take advantage of the earlier onset of summer, since they do not know if the changes in weather patterns are permanent.

The Hunza valley perches on the north side of the Hunza River in the Upper Indus Basin, some 675 km (420 miles) from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The valley lies at an elevation of around 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) and is surrounded by much higher mountain peaks and glaciers.

LESS SNOW

Ali Madad, a 76-year-old farmer in Barashal village, said that because of warmer temperatures, glaciers are melting more consistently, which makes his livelihood easier. “Now the streams, which are a major source of irrigation for mountain agriculture, flow even in winter,” he said.

Whereas snow used to begin falling in the valley around mid-October and continue for six months, it now begins in late December and ends a couple of months later, he added.

Temperatures that would fall as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius a dozen years back now rarely drop below minus 2 degrees. Summer, previously a three-month season, has become correspondingly longer, Madad said.

In Karimabad, Sultan Khan observed that winter snowfall is now less than 5 inches, in sharp contrast with the 13 inches or more typical a decade ago.

Local agriculture expert Fida Karim said only the mountain peaks now get covered with snow in winter, while the middle and lower latitudes hardly receive any snowfall. Rakaposhi, a spectacular peak in the Karakoram mountain range and the twelfth highest in Pakistan, has not been completely covered in snow since 2008, he added.

According to Karim, over the last five years, the winter snowfall in the valley has melted in just a few weeks in March. It used to remain until at least the end of April.

The changes experienced by farmers in the Hunza valley are different from those happening elsewhere in Gilgit-Baltistan. In other parts of the province, the winter season both begins and ends later than it used to, delaying the snow melt needed for irrigation and stunting the growth of crops.

But even in the Hunza valley, the changes in the onset of the seasons are a problem for vegetable and fruit farmers like Shehla Hayat.

“Every year in October, the shift from summer to winter used to be gradual. But for the last four years each October, hotter summer days (have) become cooler abruptly,” the 35-year-old farmer said, while harvesting fodder outside her house in Barashal village.

The sudden plunges in temperature, together with unexpected rainfall, have badly affected local crops of apples, apricots, pears and potatoes when they were nearly ripe, causing losses for farmers, Hayat said.

GLACIER MELT FEARS

Climate and agricultural experts warn, meanwhile, that the long-term consequences of the rising temperatures and glacial melt could be dire.

Inayat Karim, a mountain farming conservationist at the Baltit Rural Support Organisation in Hunza valley, said the Ultar glacier, which looms over Karimabad to a height of 7,400 metres (24,300 feet), has been shrinking since 1999, and a previously snow-covered peak is now bare.

Shahana Khan of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme said the valley now receives rain as well as snow in the winter months.

“This points to a scary scenario for sustainable flows of the Hunza River,” Khan said, pointing out that declining snowfall will eventually reduce levels in the Hunza River, which accounts for 25-30 percent of the water that flows into the Indus River – in turn vital to much of the nation’s agricultural economy.

There are short-term problems for the Hunza River too. Farmers say it has become increasingly turbulent in recent years due to increased glacial melt in the summer months, which sometimes causes it to breach its banks.

The director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Arif Mahmood, is concerned by the retreating snowline in the high mountains.

“In the past, mountains in the valleys like Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Shigar in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) used to receive huge snow in their lower altitude areas, between 2,000 and 3,000 metres. But this is no more the case,” he said.

“There has been a surge in heat wave incidences in UIB areas,” Mahmood continued. “The temperature now goes up beyond 40 degrees Celsius in summer as compared to (an earlier) maximum of 28 degree Celsius some 10 years ago.”

There has also been an unusual shift in monsoon patterns, which are becoming heavier and moving to higher altitudes, he added.

Mahmood warned of increasing flash floods and landslides in the UIB region if temperature increases continue.

The senior weather official called for urgent action to make public infrastructure more climate-resilient, such as strengthening river banks and bridges, and to introduce new crop varieties. Otherwise, local communities will be increasingly threatened by torrential rains, floods and wildfires, he warned.

Weblink: http://www.trust.org/item/20131008081530-fy7qp/

Weeping sea : Documentary on climate change

Weeping sea 
 Duration: 21 minutes
 Language: Malayalam (Subtitled in English)
 Direction: K Rajendran
 Camera: K Rajendran, Rahul R Chandran, Muhammed Basheer
 Editing: Jayakrishnan

 

An investigation on
How does climate impact marine and fisheries sector?
How does it affect fishermen?

How does human intervention precipitate climate change impacts?

1. Depletion of Mussels.
Location: Elephant mussels hill, Thiruvanandhapuram.
Two varieties of mussels are found in Kerala;Brown mussels and green
mussels. This (September-December) is the season of mussels. Huge
depletion of mussels is being found this season. Depletion is being felt
during last 3 years. According to marine expert this is due to the climate
change.

2. Fishes disappearing

Location; Kovalam beach, Thiruvanandhapuram
Many varieties of fishes are disappearing in Kerala sea shore.. Kilimeen (Mesoprion) is the best example. According to Central Marine and Fisheries research institute, it is one of the best examples of climate change impact on fisheries. Kilimeen is known as the ideal fish for poor. Because of it’s less
cost and good taste. So it’s depletion is widely effected the poor who doesn’t have enough money to purchase fishes of high cost.

3 .How islanders are affected?

Location: Lakshadweep
How lonely islander is being affected? .Lakshadweep is the best example.
Three islands in Lakshadweep, Pitti(Fastest sinking Island) ,Kavarathi,
Agathy are telling their stories.
Here 3 climate change impacts;
A . Water level is rising marginally.
B. Depletion of fishes is being felt
C. Corals are vanishing.
4. Salty water
Location; Mavilakadavu village, Poovar

This is a new phenomenon in many of the villages in Kerala. Water in the well became alty although it is situating 5 or 6 Km away from sea. According to marine expert this is an excellent example of climate change.

5. Human intervention expedites climate change

Location: Puzhikara beach
Once, the beautiful beach Puzhikara, was known for the varieties of fishes. Now it has become a “beach of Eagles”. The beach has been turned as a dumping place of waste. Eco system in the seashore is being scuttled.6. Encroachments

Location; Vembanadu backwater, Alapuzha
This backwater is converted as a lake of Tourism and encroachment. All existing laws are being violated. Encroachments are being done by big corporates. Authorities act as mute spectators.

Kindly watch the filmPlease click here

Pakistan’s mountain farmers ‘helpless’ in face of erratic weather

By Saleem Shaikh 
Thu, 3 Oct 2013 01:03 PM
AlertNet Climate, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Farmer Bibi Baskiya describes the sudden cloudburst that damaged her maize crop just a few days from harvest time in Danyore, a village in Gilgit district in Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin area. TRF/Saleem Shaikh

DANYORE, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – One night was all it took for Bibi Baskiya’s fortunes to be reversed. In June the young farmer had sown maize on half an acre of land in Danyore, a scenic mountain village in northern Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan province.

On Sept. 12 it was sunny and the skies were so clear that Baskiya watered her crop from a nearby spring, certain there would be no rain. But that night, her hopes of a good harvest were destroyed.

“A sudden rainstorm and heavy winds flattened 80 percent of the standing crop,” she said. The maize is now only good to be used as fodder for her cattle, and she will not recover the cost of cultivating it.

Baskiya is one of many farmers in this remote region whose livelihoods are threatened by the effects of erratic weather and climate change. Experts say measures are desperately needed to help them adapt to unreliable rainfall, but few – if any – are available so far.

“We farmers are really helpless before the inconsistent weather,” said Baskiya. “We are thinking to abandon growing maize and wheat, and cultivate cash crops like tomato and potato instead that are short-duration and less water-intensive.”

Maize is the most important summer crop after wheat in northern Pakistan’s Upper Indus Basin (UIB). The grain is harvested to eat, while the stover (dried stalks and leaves) is used to feed livestock during the winter.

“Owing to erratic weather patterns, the area under the staple crops in most of Gilgit-Baltistan province in UIB has shrunk alarmingly, and vegetables are now being grown as cash crops,” said Asmat Ali, director of the province’s agriculture department.

An estimated 70 percent of the wheat consumed locally must now be imported from Punjab province in eastern Pakistan and Sindh in the south, Ali added.

LIGHTNING STRIKES

Cash crop farmers are also suffering the consequences of extreme weather.

Ali Da’ad, 50, a vegetable farmer in Danyore, said his potato and tomato crops have been struck by lightning several times.

“There has been a significant escalation in lightning activity and thunderstorms over the last 10 years, particularly during summer months,” Da’ad said.

The lightning has triggered fires, damaging crops and endangering populated areas. At the same time, rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, causing crops to fail.

“In Gilgit district, rains are no longer even and fall patchily during the summer months,” Da’ad explained. “Sometimes it is intense and sometimes not.”

Muhammad Iqbal, chairman of Local Support Organisation Danyore (LSO-D), a nongovernmental group working for rural development, said rains are unequal even within Danyore village. “When it rains in the eastern part of the village, the west remains without it,” he said.

DELAYED SNOW MELT

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to the world’s largest frozen water reservoir, which feeds the Indus river system – a lifeline for Pakistan’s agro-based economy.

Farmers in the province depend on melting snow from April onwards to replenish streams, enabling them to sow seasonal vegetables and maize from late May. But Da’ad said prolonged winter weather is causing the snows to melt later, making it difficult to plant crops in time.

Nek Parveen of LSO-D said this year streams filled 50 days later than expected.

“Women wheat farmers in Sultanabad village (adjacent to Danyore) suffered substantial financial losses early this April, as they had to prematurely harvest after farmers sensed (the crop’s) growth had halted,” Parveen said.

According to Ghulam Rasul, a scientist at the state-owned Pakistan Meteorology Department in Islamabad, rainfall in the province has become less frequent but more intense over the past 50 years.

The decrease in winter precipitation and snowfall due to rising temperatures in the area is affecting Pakistan’s hydrological cycle and hampering the country’s agricultural growth, Rasul said.

“Investing in farmers’ climate adaptation capacity building and knowledge development can help them cope with impacts of climatic variability on their crops,” said LSO-D’s Iqbal.

HARD TO REACH

Iqbal sees a need for the construction of small or medium-sized reservoirs in the foothills and plains, so that water from streams can be harvested for use during the dry season and the winter, both for farming and domestic purposes.

But there has been little progress in the province so far, where development agencies are hampered by the inaccessibility of much of the terrain, political inertia, and a volatile security situation due to conflict between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim sects.

Jamil Uddin, who manages programmes in the Gilgit region for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), said his organisation plans to introduce climate mitigation and adaptation measures for the province’s farmers.

“Our experiences show that information-sharing programmes for mountain farmers and communities about better, proven adaptation and mitigation measures can enable (them) to cope with the aftermath of rapidly occurring climatic variability,” he said.

The AKRSP hopes to bring climate-resilient crop varieties and water conservation technologies to farmers.

According to LSO-D’s Iqbal, transmitting weather forecasts via FM radio and free SMS texts on mobile phones would help farmers, who now rely on indigenous techniques that are increasingly inaccurate as weather patterns become harder to predict.

Iqbal emphasised that helping mountain farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change is vital to support the livelihoods of rural people and maintain an acceptable level of food security.

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are climate change and development reporters based in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Weblinkhttp://www.trust.org/item/20131003130344-27fjs/?source=hptop

Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall

Saleem Shaikh
Scidev.net
Science and Development News Network International
September 09, 2013
In his short climate video documentary, Saleem Shaikh reports on how changing rainfall patterns have been devastating crop yields for farmers in Pakistan. 

Weblink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy6ETXTDO8U
Alternative weblink: http://www.scidev.net/south-asia/environment/multimedia/erratic-weather-threatens-livelihoods-in-pakistan-1.html

Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall. Photo credit: Saleem Shaikh

Northeast Pakistan hit by ‘surprise’ floods, as monsoon rains intensify

Saleem Shaikh
Thomson Reuters Foundation – Thu, 1 Aug 2013

A mud house surrounded by floodwater in flood-hit Narowal district, Punjab province. PHOTO/Punjab PDMA

SIALKOT, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – “We kept quivering with fear the whole night and could not sleep even a wink,” recalled Salma Zehra, a mother of five teenage children. The family trembled to think that the roof of their mud house could cave in at any time, as the rain lashed down in a huge thunderstorm.

By early morning on July 22, the house in Mehtabpur village in northeast Pakistan’s Sialkot district was waist-deep in water. The torrential downpour had left Zehra’s two buffaloes dead, the 45-year-old said in a shaky voice.

Another bout of heavy rain followed later that night. The Dek tributary of the Chenab River in Sialkot, 192 km (122 miles) from Islamabad, burst its banks, submerging more than 72 villages in the district.

Besides Sialkot, other districts in Punjab province have also suffered massive damage to crops across 1,000 hectares of land, as well as to properties. According to the district disaster management authorities of Sialkot, Gujranwala and Narowal, an estimated 400 villages have been flooded.

Officials have declined to give final figures for the losses, but say dozens have died and thousands of people remain stranded in the affected parts of the three districts. Some are starting to return home, but many houses have collapsed and must be rebuilt, they report.

Sialkot District Coordination Officer Iftikhar Ali Sahu told Thomson Reuters Foundation thousands of people had been trapped on the roofs of their houses during the worst of the flooding. “Mortality among cattle is high – the number of dead animals continued to rise as the floodwaters began to recede on July 26,” he added.

The situation in adjoining districts is just as bad. In Narowal alone, around 2,000 people were marooned on their rooftops in some seven villages a week ago.

Less than 30 percent of the floodwater has yet to recede, according to Mujahid Sherdil, director-general of the Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

Machines have been brought in to help drain water out of the flood-affected areas, and he hopes the task will be accomplished in the next two to three days, he told Thomson Reuters Foundation from Lahore.

Sherdil said the torrential rainfall had caused breaches of irrigation canals, streams and natural dams, and the floods had washed away crops, livestock, roads, bridges, buildings and even entire villages.

Farmers say surviving cattle in flood-hit areas are now at risk.

“Besides paddy, maize and vegetable crops, fodder fields are also underwater. This has created an acute shortage of fodder, and it is barely possible to save our cattle from the looming threat of hunger and disease,” said Zehra’s husband, Ghulam Abbas.

METEOROLOGISTS ‘STARTLED’

The above-normal monsoon rains in Punjab’s northeastern districts have taken weather experts by surprise.

“Last month, we predicted that this year monsoon rains across the country would remain normal with no possibility of flooding. But unexpected heavy rains in the northeastern districts are startling for us,” said Ghulam Rasul, a senior weather scientist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in Islamabad. “This shows how monsoon rains have become erratic and unpredictable in timing, volume and intensity.”

Sherdil, head of the Punjab disaster management agency, said the heavy rains and flooding had caught them unprepared.

“We were closely following the weekly and monthly forecasts of PMD that never predicted heavy rains of unprecedented significance for July in northeastern parts, which have been nearly 40 percent above normal for the month,” he said.

It has been difficult to get aid into the affected areas due to damaged and flooded roads and bridges, he said. “Nevertheless, we left no stone unturned to get the emergency relief items including food, medicines, to the flood victims on boats – although (they arrived) a bit late,” he added.

MONSOON SHIFTS

In June 2012, scientists argued in the Nature Climate Change journal that global warming would make understanding changes in the South Asian monsoon more difficult.

They said the impacts of short- and long-term monsoon shifts would affect the lives of over a billion people in the region, who rely on rainfall for agriculture, hydropower generation, economic growth and basic human needs.

Understanding how the South Asian monsoon will alter due to climate change is necessary to cope with the effects, reduce the risk of disasters and safeguard people’s livelihoods, they underlined.

“Addressing the uncertainties in projected changes of the monsoon variability in coming years will remain a daunting challenge for climate scientists,” said Arshad Abbasi, a water and energy expert at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad.

Arshad Khan, the executive director of the Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC), the research arm of Pakistan’s Federal Climate Change Division, said the country is in the grip of unpredictable weather patterns.

Intense monsoon rains will be a common phenomenon, particularly on the country’s southern plains which lack water reservoirs and are highly vulnerable to floods, he warned.

And a spurt in the speed of glacial melt, due to rising global temperatures and above-normal monsoon rains, is likely to cause rivers to overflow and burst their banks across the country, he added.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

Officials at the Climate Change Division, which operates under the oversight of the prime minister, said efforts are underway to tackle the vagaries of climate change across different sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture and water.

“Consultations are being made with national and provincial disaster management authorities, and officials of federal and provincial environment, agriculture, irrigation departments to implement national climate change policy to mitigate the impacts of changing weather patterns and erratic monsoon rains,” said a senior official, who coordinates policy at federal and provincial levels.

The Climate Change Division is developing climate adaptation plans for the agriculture, water and irrigation sectors, which will be implemented in Pakistan’s four provinces in collaboration with international NGOs and provincial government offices.

It is also working on programmes to ensure that climate change is considered in other sectors such as health and education, to make them more climate-resilient.

Abbasi of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute said the best ways to avert the growing threat of floods in Pakistan include efficient watershed management, reforestation in northern mountain areas and the revival of riverine forests.

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio are Islamabad-based journalists specialising in climate change and development issues.

Weblinkhttp://www.trust.org/item/20130801085120-sk59n/

Ladakh Invites New Scarcities

Athar Parvaiz

LADAKH, India, Sep 24 2013 (IPS) – The Ladakh of today is a different world from the one Skarma Namgiyal remembers as a child. Back then, he had taken for granted the breathtaking beauty of its landscape, the purity of the cold mountain air, and the sweet taste of water in its streams.

Today, at 47 years of age, this resident of Tukcha village in Leh district in the north of Kashmir cannot believe they are digging borewells for water, using water to flush toilets in their homes in place of the dry toilets they had been accustomed to, and having to cope with sewage flowing right up to their houses.

Climate change, booming tourism and modern practices are wreaking havoc in this high altitude cold desert in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. The average elevation in Ladakh is 11,000 ft above sea level and temperatures swing between minus 35 degrees Celsius in winters to 35 degrees in summer. Annual rainfall in the region is less than four inches.

Earlier, water from the melting glaciers would be enough to cater to the needs of the locals, Namgiyal tells IPS. But with less snowfall and warmer summers, some of the glaciers have vanished altogether while others too are fast melting.

“Look at Khardongla,” says Namgiyal’s neighbour Tsering Kushu. “It used to be a huge glacier. It is not there anymore.”

More at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/ladakh-invites-new-scarcities/