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Alarming Ignorance: Nepal Unaware of Climate Change’s Devastating Impact, Survey Finds

Kathmandu, 16 May.

The National Climate Change Survey 2022 released by the National Statistics Office, paints a stark picture of Nepal’s climate change situation and urges intervention for the resource-crunch Himalayan nation.

The survey reported by households, excluding significant infrastructure damages, amounted to Rs415.44 billion. Experts say worse is yet to come.

In Nepal, the number of households unaware of the consequences of climate change is significantly high.

The survey shows that many households reported adverse weather changes. They noted that their water resources dried up, new diseases infected crops, productivity losses rose, and flowering and fruiting behaviours changed over the last two and a half decades.

Major economic sectors and essential services like health and education in Nepal have felt the repercussions of extreme weather events linked to climate change, the survey said.

The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews from July to March 2023 among 6,508 households in 326 primary sampling units from all seven provinces.

According to the survey, over the past 25 years, approximately 50 percent of households reported the emergence of new diseases in their crops, 53.9 percent observed the presence of new insects or pests affecting their crops, and 29.8 percent of households noted the appearance of new diseases in their livestock.

The survey report shows households in altitudes between 1,500 and 2,000 metres reported emerging new crop diseases (60.2 percent) over the last 25 years. This shows diverse factors influence the prevalence of crop diseases across diverse geographical and climatic domains.

The survey shows that 35.8 percent of the households surveyed were aware of climate change. Across all three geographical domains, the number of households unaware of climate change is significantly high, with the highest number being in the mountain region (70.9 percent).

The sex-disaggregated data indicate that most male (61.3 precent) and female (74 percent) respondents were unaware of climate change impacts. The accessibility of early warning information among the people is weak.

The survey results show a significant impact of climate change on Nepal’s water resources over the last 25 years. Climate change has notable implications for the country’s energy transition, as it is actively pursuing a shift from conventional fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Experts says, the survey report is eye-opening. Nepal plans to generate 30,000MW of electricity by 2035, and the market for Nepal’s hydropower is opening in India and Bangladesh.

Many households reported adverse changes and noted their water resources dried up.

This phenomenon was observed across all domains and indicates a nationwide decrease in water availability. Respondents experienced a reduction in ground and surface water, primarily attributed to insufficient rainfall and increased drought incidents.

According to the survey, 78.3 percent of households observed a decline in rivulets and streams, and 55 percent observed a decrease in wells, springs, and stone spouts.

Likewise, 47.7 percent observed changes in water resources due to insufficient rainfall, followed by an increase in drought (20.3 percent), road construction (3.4 percent), deforestation and urbanisation (3.2 percent). In contrast, minimal respondents observed change due to population growth, earthquakes and landslides/soil erosion over the last 25 years.

The survey said that over the past 25 years, Nepal has suffered from various natural disasters. Drought has emerged as a major disaster, affecting 44.87 percent households, and floods 13.87 percent. Storms have affected 9.9 percent of households, while landslides have affected 7.81 percent.

Drought has been reported as the major disaster, affecting 65.4 percent of households, followed by diseases/insects at 54.3 percent, storms 46.2 percent, hailstorms 32.6 percent, floods 28.5 percent, cold waves 21.7 percent, landslides 21.5 percent, and inundation 17.5 percent. Thunderstorms impacted 15.7 percent of households, while occurrences of other disasters such as avalanches, GLOFs, and snowstorms were relatively lower.

Climate change has significant and wide-ranging impacts on biodiversity in Nepal, a country known for its rich and diverse ecosystems, including the Himalayan mountains, tropical forests, and wetlands.

Ten percent of households reported changes in flowering and fruiting behaviours affecting trees, shrubs, and fruiting plants, leading to reduced production and altered taste.

Some of the critical impacts of climate change on biodiversity in Nepal are shifts in species distribution, habitat loss and fragmentation, altered breeding and migration patterns, invasive species, loss of endemic species, biodiversity conservation challenges, and human-wildlife conflict.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)

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