Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation

Quantity and Quality of Water Climate change impacts on glaciers and a resulting decline in water availability was suggested after the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC 2007). Several studies were conducted thereafter to better understand this issue. Some of these studies used fully distributed hydrological models to investigate how glaciers and runoff would respond to an ensemble of downscaled climate model data (e.g., Immerzeel et al. 2011; Lutz et al., 2014) These projections show both an increase in temperature and precipitation and a concomitant steady decline in glacial area, which would lead to an increase in river flows. However, the challenge for the future lies in dealing with changes in the timing and magnitude of river and stream flows between seasons and potential increases in extreme weather events such as landslides, glacial lake outbursts, and floods. GLOFs A significant threat in the Himalayas, and one that is directly correlated to rising temperatures, is posed by glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). GLOFs are caused by a rapid accumulation of water into glacial lakes, which then burst, sending a flash flood of debris and water from high elevations, wreaking havoc on downstream communities and damaging valuable infrastructure such as hydropower facilities and roads (Bartlett et al. 2010). Twenty-four GLOF events have been recorded in Nepal in the past, of which 10 were the result of flood overspills across the Nepal border. There are approximately 1,444 glacial lakes in the Nepal, of which 21 are categorized as potentially critical in terms of GLOF risk (Mool et al. 2011). Climate change is likely to increase the possibility of GLOF events in the future. Furthermore, socioeconomic development in the river corridors of Nepal also increases the risk of damage from GLOFs, as more settlements and infrastructure is put in their path. This concern has been corroborated by an Asian Development Bank concept paper (2011a), which points out that the fast rise in temperatures at the highest altitudes will affect glaciers, snow, and ice, and threatens the generally poor and isolated communities that depend upon them. The expected climate change impacts on water resources include greater water scarcity in high mountain regions, affecting water quality and availability in the middle mountains, and causing more water-related disasters (flooding, landslides, sedimentation, water-borne disease, vector-borne disease) in the Churia-Terai region (the Churia hills adjoining the Terai) (Lama et al. 2013). The priority concerns of communities are to secure water for drinking and agriculture and to protect against flood and water-borne diseases. Only a quarter of all cultivable agricultural land in Nepal is irrigated; as agricultural production is mostly rainfed and greatly dependent on favourable weather conditions, it is likely to be greatly impacted by climatic changes. Agriculture and Food Security The Strategic Program for Climate Resilience states that climate change impacts on agriculture and food security will come through rising temperatures; climate variability; and related changes in the timing, intensity, and volume of rainfall; and rising carbon dioxide levels. These factors will have the most severe negative effects on the poorest rural population, which is dependent on agriculture and which has the lowest capability to adapt. In an agrarian country such as Nepal, where there has been a staggering increase in population and food demand, a decline in annual food production is a matter of great concern. The agriculture sector has already been adversely affected by a loss of fertile soil due to soil erosion, landslides, and floods. Soil loss is one of the major causes of the decline in agricultural production in Nepal. The negative effects of climate change may further aggravate this situation. Rising temperatures As Nepal has various types of agricultural zones, changes in climatic parameters in agri-zones will lead to changes in the ecological distribution of agricultural crops within zones. Increases in temperature will cause more damage to agricultural sectors in the Terai region and will be more favourable to agriculture in the hills and mountains. As temperatures increase, cropping patterns and vector-borne diseases of humans and livestock can be expected to shift to higher ecological zones. Some land, which is presently unsuitable for agriculture because of different


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