Policy recommendations for adaptation in Nepal

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 23rd Jul 2011 | last updated 17th Mar 2020

Summary of recommendations for Nepal

This work is part of a Policy Brief on Climate Change in Nepal produced by Practical Action in 2008

Policy makers from all sectors urgently need to focus attention on the implications of climate change. Support for adaptation to the impacts must start now. Many aspects of climate change and variability are already having a profound effect on the livelihoods of poor rural communities, and enough is known about the future impacts of climate change for action to be taken now. The vulnerability of the poorest to climate change is a central challenge and 'no regrets' adaptation options, which focus on poverty relief through diversifying livelihoods and extension support for sustainable agricultural systems, must be a priority.

In particular, action is required in the following areas:

Central government

Issue:

• Climate change is not just an issue for those in government with responsibility for the environment.

Recommendations:

• All government departments must acknowledge the importance of climate change and analyse the impacts for their sector. Disaster planning and risk reduction strategies must account for the new challenges of climate induced disasters.

• Central government will need to support decentralised policy development so that appropriate adaptation activities can be planned and to prevent the imposition of 'one size fits all' solutions. National level activities need to support the distribution of resources and extension services to the local level, training and awareness raising in communities, research for technology generation, information provision, and take forward international lobbying.

• Nepal needs to speed up the process for formulating its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). This process not only provides an important opportunity for examining the impacts of climate change for Nepal but also, once completed, opens opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation to help Nepal with financing adaptation.

Water resources management

Issue:

• Melting glaciers will cause an initial increase winter and spring in river flows but lead to a long term reduction in water supply after 2050 as the ice resource depletes. Water stress will become a significant factor in for agriculture and human consumption. In the short term increasingly frequent flooding from increased glacial outflow and extreme rain events is anticipated.

Recommendations:

• At the local level, action plans and concrete implementation activities are required for irrigation systems, drinking water, and water induced disasters. Training, awareness raising and mobilisation of resources are essential at the local level; this will require decentralised funds that are managed at the local level, for example through community based organisations.

Agricultural policy and extension support

Issue:

• As temperature and precipitation rates change and precipitation in particular becomes less predictable, farmers will need to change their practices and diversify crops. Changes in vegetation may have significant implications for livestock keepers if grassland areas decrease in line with predictions, whilst the disappearance of tropical wet forest and temperate rain forest will change the livelihood options of those who depend on these natural resources. More positively, the rise of the vegetation line in mountain regions may offer an opportunity for the cultivation new land. However, irrigation and soil fertility will be important considerations.

Recommendations:

• Action will be required at several levels to support adaptation in agriculture, including in the Department of Agriculture, Nepal Agriculture Research Council, and District Development Council. Identification and investment is required on appropriate cropping patterns and systems, crop varieties and species, emerging pests and diseases, and evolving and anticipated climate stresses on crops and livestock. Training and the support of extension worker for farmers will be necessary in all these areas.

Health

Issue:

• Diarrhoea diseases are already a significant problem in Nepal and flooding is likely to increase the pollution in surface water, increasing both diarrhoea and cholera. The subtropical and warm regions are likely to see an increase in malaria and kalaazar whilst Japanese encephalitis risk will increase in the subtropical region.

Recommendations:

• Local and national planning will be required to secure local drinking water supplies, drainage, and health facilities. The distribution of vaccinations as people are exposed to new diseases to which they have are not immune will be essential.

Forestry and natural resources

Issue:

• A change in Nepal's forest composition is anticipated, with tropical wet forest and warm temperate rain forest disappearing and rain forest emerging in the tropical and subtropical regions. Forestry policy is critical as forests act as both carbon sinks and provide a source of livelihoods Moreover, as extreme rainfall events increase in likelihood the flood and landslide protection offered by forests will become ever more important.

Recommendations:

• Community forestry approaches will be a key component in developing and preserving the ecosystem resources (livelihoods, flood and landslide protection, and carbon sinks) that forests provide as the climate changes.

• Attention should also be paid to alternative livelihoods as the current natural resource based livelihoods are likely to be affected by climate change. Strategies for alternative livelihoods must offer affected communities a range of employment opportunities and should include support for local labour, industrial and business initiatives.

• Strengthening of natural resources and with enhanced livelihood options strengthens the coping capacity of the landscape to climate extremes and enables communities to better cope with adversities. Community based adaptation which integrates the natural resources on which the livelihoods of most of the population is based is thus the most viable option for adaptation to climate change.