23 Oct Climate change in the Solukhumbu
Remote Nepal, and particularly the granite solidity of the Himalaya, can feel so far removed from the rest of the world that it may just rise above global problems. But Nepal has been identified as the fourth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Snow cover is shrinking in the mountains, rain patterns are unpredictable, and fertile land has become barren. This solid-looking environment is incredibly fragile.
The Australian Himalayan Foundation has worked with communities in the small Solukhumbu region, in the far north-east of Nepal, since 2005. In the Solukhumbu, people are traditionally farmers, living in remote villages with no road access. Snow leopards, red panda and many other rare animals share this region.
The people, flora and fauna of the Solukhumbu are some of Nepal’s most vulnerable to climate change.
What are the problems?
The recent Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment reports that we can now expect temperatures across the Himalaya will increase by more than 2°C on average, more at higher elevations, within the next 30 years. Himalayan communities are already living with the effects of climate change – they are experiencing erratic rainfall, flash flooding, drought, forest fires, and landslides, and we expect these events to become more severe and frequent as temperatures rise. Families are having to abandon their homes and farms due to uncertain and hazardous climate conditions.
Generations of people have farmed the land in the Solukhumbu, and the future of this life seems precarious at best.
So, what can be done?
Everest Youth Climate Initiative (EYCI)
Communities who are poor and isolated have limited alternative livelihoods. When you are not part of national decision making processes, you are inherently more vulnerable to change. Learning to adapt is now recognised as an essential part of the human response to climate change, and this is where we can help.
It’s not too late to help people in the Solukhumbu region develop and deepen their understanding of the Himalayan environment and the threats that face it.
Together with REED Nepal, the Australian Himalayan Foundation has piloted a project working with teachers and students in 16 schools throughout the Solukhumbu. On our own we can’t impact climate change, but we can increase local communities’ ability to adapt to the changes facing them. Through the EYCI project and the school-based eco-clubs, students and teachers will create awareness campaigns, training workshops and climate change monitoring.
” Combining indigenous and local knowledge with external expertise is vital for resilience. ” – Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment
Project EYCI will bring together local communities with local and international agencies, experts in the Himalaya and in climate change. AHF and REED Nepal will help school and community groups to partner with government bodies, scientific organisations and other NGOs.
Community members will be encouraged and empowered to plan local activities around environmental conservation. Some initial plans include:
- Local reforestation
- Red Panda monitoring and conservation
- A livelihood-support program
Communities are well-prepared when they are engaged, educated and included in the conversation around climate change. AHF’s hope is that with our trademark collaborative approach, we will be able to work with the communities of the Solukhumbu to help them adapt and overcome some of the challenges posed by climate change in the region.
This land, this life, and this culture are some of the most unique and beautiful in the world and must be protected and assisted to preserve them for future generations.
Climate Risk Profile Nepal https://www.climatelinks.org/countries/nepal
Climate change adaptation in Nepal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_adaptation_in_Nepal
Climate change in Nepal: a comprehensive analysis of instrumental data and people’s perceptions https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-019-02418-5
Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-92288-1
WWF Climate Change Adaptation http://www.wwfnepal.org/hariyobanprogram/what_we_do/climate_change_adaptation/