Climate change disasters and-development nexus in Nepal

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United Mission to Nepal (UMN)

This research report delves into the intricate interplay between climate change, disasters, and development, shedding light on the complex dynamics and significant impacts that emerge from their interactions in the context of Nepal, a country highly vulnerable to natural hazards. The study aims to understand the factors contributing to environmental degradation and natural disasters, assess the policy and institutional capacity at the local level, and identify climatefriendly technologies and solutions that are suitable for the local context. This study conducted in Nepal’s Doti and Bajhang Districts used qualitative techniques like interviews, focus groups, observation, and quantitative analysis of climate and disaster data. It employed a multi-method approach to identify hazards, risks, and adaptation strategies, incorporating participatory tools to capture diverse perspectives. The study also analysed policy gaps and identified climate-friendly technologies through action research for local development planning on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The findings highlight that the escalating prevalence of both climatic and non-climatic hazards has contributed to the rise of climate and disaster risks, resulting in a wide array of adverse effects experienced by communities. Unpredictable rainfall patterns, intense precipitation events, fluctuations in maximum and minimum temperatures, declining winter rains, and recurrent droughts have left communities and their livelihoods under immense pressure. Human activities have played a crucial role in exacerbating these hazards, intensifying their impact on vulnerable regions. Concurrently, the migration of populations to hazard-prone areas has increased the exposure of individuals, agricultural practices, livelihoods, and human assets to elevated risks. The situation is further compounded by inadequate local government policies and governance, leading to unplanned and vulnerable settlements. Often, individuals migrate from safer locations to more hazardous areas in pursuit of improved facilities, services, and access. Furthermore, the construction of schools and public infrastructure in hazard-prone areas amplifies the exposure and sensitivity to natural disasters. Aquatic life damage and depletion of resources like fish and spring water also affect community livelihoods. At the policy and institutional level, the study employs the UNDRR disaster resilient preliminary assessment scorecard to assess the resilience frameworks of two municipalities, highlighting areas of progress and improvement. The study reveals the limited ability of local governments to effectively address climate and disaster risks. This highlights a significant gap in the local government’s capacity to attain disaster resilience and climate adaptation. Consequently, a comprehensive assessment of hazard, exposure, vulnerability, and capacity reveals the continuous and high-probability nature of disaster risk in affected communities. While both municipalities have made progress in certain areas, they lag behind others on their path to becoming disaster resilient multiplicities. It is crucial for them to address these gaps and implement the necessary plans and strategies to achieve resilience.

The report also emphasises the importance of climate-friendly technologies and local adaptive actions in building resilience and reducing disaster risks. Locally available seeds, solar cooking stoves, low-cost recharge pits, and resilient crop varieties are identified as viable solutions. However, support from government institutions, development organisations, and civil society groups is crucial to promote and sustain these initiatives. The discussion section highlights the role of human activities in exacerbating natural hazards and converting them into disasters. It emphasises the need for incorporating disaster risk reduction measures into infrastructure and curriculums to minimise vulnerability. The integration of DRR and adaptation approaches into development policies and programs is necessary to achieve disaster resilience. In conclusion, the study reveals the escalating risks associated with climate change and disasters, driven by both natural hazards and human factors. It highlights the vulnerability of communities and the limitations of local governments in addressing these risks, necessitating comprehensive strategies for disaster resilience and climate adaptation. The report raises critical questions about the transformation of development initiatives into disasters, and the role of human agencies in intensifying, calling for further research and proactive measures to address these challenges. It also argues that comprehending the ‘hazard’ in a given region is inadequate without acknowledging human activities or elements within its framework. Study acknowledging the potential of community-based initiatives and low-cost climate-friendly technologies to mitigate risks and promote resilience. By embracing these approaches, communities can overcome resource limitations and enhance their ability to withstand the challenges posed by climate change and disasters, ultimately ensuring sustainable development.

Maharjan, K., Thapa, D., Shrestha, N., Maskey, N, Magar, S.B., Awasthi, L.K., & Sonar, S.