Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Climate and life in Nepal, as seen by a BBC reporter

This article is based on a recent Oxfam report:

But an Oxfam report released earlier this week has warned that poor harvests, water shortages and extreme temperatures - the consequences of climate change - will plunge millions of rural poor in Nepal into hunger.

In Bhattegaun, an hour's walk away from the road through forested hills, the effects are already apparent. A stream that provides water has dried up to a thin trickle.

Each day 35-year-old Naina Shahi gathers what she can for her three children and carries it back to her two-room hut.

Prabin Man Singh, who works for the international aid agency, Oxfam, says that with the changes in weather patterns the daily struggle for survival has been accentuated.

"Food production has fallen because of variable rainfall, so they don't have enough to feed the whole family. "There is a water scarcity in the hills and women have to walk a longer distance to get water," he says.

Two issues warrant immediate and close monitoring:

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

(ii) late but heavy monsoon might wreak havoc, especially destroying property, landslides, farmed land (further decreasing production), increase the number of internally displaced people, and cause starvation, among others. This might fuel social conflict.