Last October our MCC Nepal Program Coordinator, Durga Sunchiuri, had the opportunity to visit the U.S. through the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, and share about the impact of climatic changes on the communities with whom our MCC Nepal partners work. Climatic changes are a very real challenge to our partners’ work, as farmers regularly share with us about the shifting rainfall patterns, prolonged periods of drought, increased frequency of natural disasters and loss of water resources that significant impact their families’ well-being.
Below are several stories Durga shared during his presentation that guide our learning about the climate change crisis many people in Nepal currently face:
Effect of Climate Change on Water Supply
Lila Devi Niraula, of Okhaldhunga, lives in a village of 30 households that built a water pipeline in 1993. Over the years the water started decreasing, and totally dried up in 2015. She then had to walk two hours a day to fetch water, and sell her cattle (5 cows & 8 goats) – her family’s main source of income – because she could no longer feed them. After a long period of negotiation, the village now has a pipeline from a neighbouring village’s water source.
“After three years of struggle, I have enough water for my household use, but I still have not recovered my livelihoods as I had to sell my cattle. I am not sure how long this new water system will run.” – Lila Devi (age 45)
Effect of Prolonged Drought on Earthquake Reconstruction
After the earthquake destroyed his home in 2015, Badiraj Rai needed to rebuild. However, lack of water forced him to remain without a home for 3 years:
“We don’t even have water for drinking,” Rai said, “The water crisis has delayed the reconstruction.” “We are facing a water crisis for three years,” adds Rai’s neighbor, Tham Bahadur. “We always need to worry about the water and the construction cost increases due to the shortage of water.”
Rai’s municipality was declared a drought-hit region in 2014. Since then, 4 families have been forced to migrate due to lack of water, and 50% of the 20,000 population has had to purchase truckloads of water for reconstructing their houses.
Effect of More Frequent Flooding on Farmers’ Livelihoods
“I never experienced such devastating flood in my life as I am living in my village all the time, we are experiencing more frequent disasters like floods and droughts in the recent years and more and more people are affected.” – Sikendra Yadav (age 46)
Yadav, a vegetable farmer from Morang District in southeast Nepal, has a wife and three children. In August 2017 they lost their home and most of their belongings after unusually destructive floods. His vegetable farm (pictured above) was destroyed by the flood water as mud totally covered his crops.
The family lost an entire season’s crop. The lack of income left them in a critical economic situation in which they were unable to pay for their children’s education, food, and medicine. In the winter, they suffered badly from a cold wave since they had lost most of their possessions and could not afford warm clothing and blankets.
Responding to Climate Change
Some of the ways that MCC supports our partners to respond to climate change are by encouraging diversified agricultural options, building drinking water and irrigation systems, and responding to natural disasters.