Climate change? Most Nepalis are unaware of it!

RAMESH PRASAD BHUSHAL

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.

http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=44692

Govt frets as donors divert funds to climate change

RAMESH PRASAD BHUSHAL

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.

http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=44388

Lessons from superstorm Sandy – for Mumbai

New York’s response to superstorm Sandy holds many disaster management lessons for coastal Indian cities. So does the limitations of that emergency response in the face of changing weather patterns – rising sea levels may mean that cities have to rethink their development policies altogether. Click here to read the piece.

Livestock kills on the rise

While people in rural residents are reeling under the intensified human wildlife conflict, no studies are done in Bhutan on why it is happening.

http://www.kuenselonline.com/2011/?p=39444

 

Nov 05, 2012

Livestock kills on the rise

  

In Nubi gewog  more than 100 cattle were preyed on this year alone
Human-wildlife conflict: After a tiger mauled one of its villagers to death in 2010 the small hamlet of Dozhong (Dorji) gonpa in Trongsa has occasionally made news. Since then numerous cattle have fallen prey to tigers. The last kill on October 30 was a young ox.

Villagers of the 11 scattered houses amid oak and pine trees, 17 kms from Trongsa town towards Bumthang, say wild animals have always preyed on their livestock but never like in the recent years.

“When I was young the village lost about five to six cattle to wild animals like tiger, wild dog and leopard,” a 52-year old farmer said. “Tigers would attack only one to two cattle in a year. But these days we can’t even keep track of the loss.”

This plight of intensified livestock depredation is shared by farmers of more than 15 villages of Nubi gewog in Trongsa.

A 57-year old farmer said while wild cats attacking their livestock has been a part of their lives the situation has worsened in recent years. Villagers claim that more than 100 livestock has been lost this year alone.

Village tshogpa (representative) Kezang Jurmi said more than 60 livestock were killed in three villages in his locality in the past 10 months. Tsagay, a farmer from Dozhonggonpa, claimed that more than 60 were killed in his village.

But officials from territorial forest division say only 54 cases were reported. Records maintained by wildlife conservation division indicate that from two reported tiger depredation cases in 2002, it had increased to 54 this year.

It is, however, not known why the conflict had increased in the recent years.

Village elders believe that the numbers of tiger seems to have increased but they do not know by how much. Chimi Dub, 57, said the only probable cause he could think is the increase in the forest cover in the area.

Forest officials say camera traps confirmed the presence of about three tigers in the area. Even leopards were spotted in the camera trap.

While officials working for wildlife conservation pointed out the conflict could have been intensified because the tigers are old and are not able to hunt, there are no studies conducted to prove it. Conservationists are also not in position to say if the tiger numbers have increased in the area.

Meanwhile, farmer Tsagay from Dozhonggonpa, whose ox was eaten by a tiger on October 30, said farmers in the locality might have to leave if the tigers go on predating their livestock.

Tsagay owned more than 15 cattle four years ago but is left with only eight now. “We live in the highland and depend on livestock,” he said.

Many Dozhonggonpa residents claimed they were not compensated for the livestock lost to tigers in 2010 and 2011. “We only got compensation for the livestock that were killed in 2012,” a 32-year-old woman said.

By Tashi Dema

Mountain men and women are impacted differently by climate change

Climate change has different impacts on men and women while they have different abilities to respond to the impacts

Mountain men and women are impacted differently by the effects of climate change and thus have different roles and responsibilities to play in the society.

This was highlighted during a Climate change adaption and gender plenary, at the Bhutan+ 10 summit, “Gender and Sustainable Mountain Development in a Changing World”.

Most of the members of the plenary agreed that gender lens is extremely important because it shows not only the differences between men and women, but also other power relationships in the society at large.

While climate change has different impacts on men and women especially in the mountain context, both women and men need different resources in order to adapt to changes. Many agreed that gender issue should be addressed widely in every climate change negotiation or policy decision.

One of the members of the plenary, Dr. Andrea Nightingale of the University of Edinburg, Scotland, said if people do not see gender being integrated in National Adaptation Plan of Actions (NAPA) and Local Adaptation Plan of Actions (LAPA), it is because UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) fails to address gender issues.

“IPCC, which advises many climate change negotiations, cannot include generic statements and there are few scientific data related to gender impacts of climate change.

Dr. Andrea Nightingale said women should not be projected as vulnerable but must look at their potentials and how they have been coping.

Another member, Ms. Elbegzaya Batjiargal of the Mountain Partnership, Central Asia Hub, said in Central Asia, where 90% of the territory is mountainous it is still not sure to what extent mountain women are affected.

“Gender disaggregated data and good researches are required to support effective policy making,” she said.

A report, released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) earlier this year called “Women at the frontline of Climate Change,” revealed that women are most likely to suffer from Climate Change, but they are also the most capable of creating change and adaption within their communities.

The UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, during the launch of the report said women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security.

He said sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful.

“Women’s voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be made a central part of governments’ adaptive responses to a rapidly changing climate,” said Achim Steiner.

Further, the Bhutan National Human Development 2011 also highlighted that women in general will experience a higher level of adverse impacts of climate change but has better ability to adapt to climate change.

The report states that women experience a higher level of impact due to their social, economical and cultural circumstances. It says poor access to resources, limited mobility, education, restricted rights and low level of participation in the decision making process are some factors that could contribute especially to their vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.

During the Plenary session, Dr. Govind Kelkar of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), India, said even though mountain women have some advantages over women in the plains, they also face mountain specific challenges to adaption.

She said mountain women have more social mobility, less patriarchy, more engagement in outside activities but also face challenges to adaption such as limited exposure to markets, men’s outmigration, and limited access to infrastructure, and greater dependence on natural resources.

The Bhutan National Human Development 2011 also highlighted that gender roles create opportunities for climate adaptation.

It says women are considered to possess valuable knowledge and have comprehension about managing water and forest resources, soil conservation, social networking, and nurturing children.

“Considering the special vulnerabilities and opportunities, it is crucial that adaptation plans and programs consider the different roles, needs, adaptive capacity, knowledge and perspective of men and women,” states the report.

Bhutan’s draft revised National Adaptation Program of Action includes the need to recognize gender balance, especially in the implementation of developmental activities and in the participation of both men and women.

http://www.businessbhutan.bt/?p=10772 published in Business Bhutan

Nepal’s expertise on micro-hydel technology to be replicated in other countries

After successfully transferring technical expertise and experience on ‘homegrown’ bio-gas plant technology, a clean form of energy that has helped to meet the energy demands of thousands of rural populations across the country and beyond, Nepalese experts are now ready to share their knowledge on mini-micro hydro projects in relieving countries like Nepal from energy crisis and improving economic opportunities. Nepal has gained its expertise based on its more than four-decade long experience on developing micro hydel in most of the rural parts of the world and helped the poor and underprivileged communities to get access towards clean form of energy..

http://ekantipur.com/2012/11/02/capital/nepal-to-share-micro-hydel-skills-in-region/362228.html

World agricultural patterns can change with climate change

The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research programme of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Organisations (CGIAR) has published a policy brief looking at the impact of climate change on global agricultural patterns.

The CCAFS brief states that an already uphill task of generating food for the increasing global population by 2050 has been made more complex with climate change. A combination of global warming and increasing frequency of extreme weather events will make it difficult to grow many of the food crops. Though some crops like warmer weather, they can become increasing susceptible to pest and diseases.

Production of wheat, maize and rice and also livestock production and fisheries will be challenged by climate change. “The recalibration of agriculture will eventually extend beyond what is grown and raised. The world’s many cultures must adapt to the changing dinner menu forced upon them due to climate change,” states the brief.

The CGIAR is a network of 15 international agricultural research centres working for increasing food production in the developing countries. The more famous ones are the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquartered near Manila in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) headquartered in Mexico City, Mexico. India hosts the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Sri Lanka hosts the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

Though the CGIAR centres have been researching in the last few decades to increase food production by overcoming abiotic (drought, flood, salinisation, etc.) and biotic (pest and disease) stress, it is in the past few years that the research programmes of the different centres were dovetailed into a research programme to deal with climate change.

The CGIAR Centres also hold in trust for humanity more than 600,000 accession of germplasm (seeds) of food crops. This diversity could be the source of genes for developing crop varieties that can withstand the new stresses that climate change will generate.

The policy brief can be accessed from this link.

 

Dengue under control

Although the monsoon rains have come late this year, the dengue outbreak in Lahore appears to have been controlled. Around this time last year, the city was gripped by fear with people largely staying indoors in the evening and each home reeking of the fumes of mosquito repellents. Dengue, which is usually not fatal unless you are bitten twice in the same season, is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a day-biting insect that feeds on human blood.

The outbreak of dengue seems to have a link with climate change. http://dawn.com/2012/09/30/earthly-matters-dengue-under-control/