Following our baseline surveys, November Charlie 5 established that one of the many challenges faced by the residents of Simaltar and Ghantikhola, is the impact that climate change is having on their agriculture based livelihoods. Citing problems of erratic and unreliable rainfall, as well as longer hot seasons, many of the farmers complained that certain crops were not growing on time, often resulting in reduced crop yields, thereby affecting the amount of food available to feed their families. Though the majority of the community members were aware of the changes, there was a noticeable lack of understanding of how this was related to climate, and importantly, how they could best cope with, and adapt to the changing seasons.
Working with our project partner, Women, Children, and Environment Development Center (WOCHEND), we subsequently facilitated a climate change awareness raising lecture, run by a local professor. The session, which was well attended by 35 farmers, provided attendees with a basic understanding of the science of global warming, and what climate change means. This prompted lively discussion around the injustice of Nepal’s climate vulnerability; in comparison to the UK. Nepal is a country that has contributed very little to global CO2 emissions, and yet, is feeling the affects of global warming in an increasingly disastrous way.
As well as raising awareness, we also wanted to identify practical, affordable, and sustainable ways for the community to respond to climate change. The lecture had introduced a variety of different coping strategies that rural communities can adopt to better prepare themselves for changing weather patterns. We organized a follow up training session on how to implement drip irrigation systems to save water, and how to use bio-fertilisers to conserve the land and avoid soil degradation. Whilst mobilizing door-to-door for the event in small groups, we gave each household a short presentation on climate change coping strategies, giving a brief overview of bio-fertilisers, and drip-irrigation, but also encouraging afforestation – the active planting of trees and green plants to attract cloud and rain to the local area.
The training sessions were a great success, and the community came away from the meetings with two simple and affordable ways to both protect their livelihoods from changing weather patterns, but also ensure that their future agricultural practices are sustainable, thereby hopefully safeguarding and enhancing the livelihoods of future generations in the community.
-written by UK volunteer, Constance (November Charlie 5)