A Village Adapting to Climate Change
Arun Adhikari of CARE Nepal, the Nepalgunj-based Field Coordinator for the Hariyo Ban Program, explains: “In June and July 2012 we carried out an Underlying Causes of Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment in the Basudevpur VDC. Following the assessment, we identified Farm Tole as a vulnerable village. Farm Tole is surrounded by the Duduwa River on three sides and over the years flooding has become more serious, particularly in the monsoon, affecting all 31 households of the village. Now, every year land along the river is washed away, directly affecting the livelihoods of the local people, most of whom are ultra-poor Dalits and subsistence farmers. This, coupled with their dependence on rainfall for rain-fed agriculture, makes them very vulnerable.” Delays in the onset of the monsoon due to increasingly erratic rainfall is having a direct impact on crop production. With the help of Hariyo Ban Program the villagers have now put together a Community Adaptation Plan of Action aimed at improving the ability of the community to adapt to climate change. In their adaptation plan, immediate priority was given to addressing the impacts of flooding and increasing their resilience by improving their livelihood conditions.
Farm Tole locals have planted cactus and bamboo along a 1,500 meter stretch of the Duduwa River, to help bind the soil, slow the water, and reduce the risk of soil erosion by the floods. To help improve livelihood conditions of the local community, Hariyo Ban organized training in off-season commercial vegetable farming. Villagers have started seed production of asparagus; future efforts will focus on the mass production of asparagus seed and the establishment of a seed processing plant. Members of the local community have also proposed turmeric cultivation and mushroom farming as alternative sources of livelihood. Hariyo Ban supported the establishment of a Community Learning and Action Center (CLAC), and with funds saved from their CLAC snack allowances women in Farm Tole are enjoying financial support after starting a savings and cooperative group. "Reducing dependence on rainfall for food production and other livelihood means will make the impacts of climate variability less severe in Farm Tole," adds Arun Adhikari.
Alongside these activities, Hariyo Ban is also helping the community with improved cooking stoves and biogas plants. The biogas and improved cooking stoves installed with the support of the Hariyo Ban Program help to reduce the pressure on local forests, save women’s time spent collecting firewood, and drastically reduce indoor air pollution. The restored forest should absorb more rainwater and help to reduce flooding of the river. It also offers a more suitable environment for wildlife and flora. However, the community cannot resolve all its problems locally and is also discussing flood management with upstream communities.
Sanitary conditions in the village have improved immensely following the installation of toilets (16 permanent and 15 temporary) in every village household. Toilets at home also reduce the chance of human-wildlife conflict that often occurs when villagers defecate in the forest.
Thanks to the support provided by Hariyo Ban, lives and livelihoods in Farm Tole have considerably improved and crucial natural resources are being conserved. Farm Tole truly is an example of positive change realized in a short time period that other communities in Nepal can look to for inspiration.
By Richa Bhattarai, Communications Associate, Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.