Home Contact Us  

South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5377, 6 October 2017
Nepal: Climate Change and Human Mobility
Avasna Pandey
Research Intern, CRP, IPCS

In 2016, Samjong village in Upper Mustang, Nepal, which is at an elevation of 4100 m, had to be relocated to Namashung village in the same region. This was necessitated by acute drought in Samjong that had persisted for almost a decade. While this might be a small case study of relocation, it merits closer analysis to understand the implications of climate change and human mobility. Should this happen on a larger scale, say, across Nepal, given the country’s vulnerability to climate change, climate change-induced migration will demand timely policy intervention.

Droughts: Does Samjong Reflect a Trend?
In Upper Mustang, which is a trans-Himalayan region receiving less than 200 mm of rain annually, erratic rain and snowfall has led to a deepening water crisis. The village of Dhey in the same region is a case-in-point. After facing an acute shortage of water supply for seven years and consequently decreased irrigated land size, a total of twenty three villages had to be relocated to Thangchung in 2009. Similarly, in 2016, eighteen households shifted from Samjong village to Namashung village in search of water. Upper Mustang, where people depend on agriculture and livestock rearing, has been reeling under acute water shortage due to prolonged spells of drought. With their main source of livelihood in jeopardy, the locals are faced with no option but to move.

Whether this is a trend or a standalone incident is hard to gauge as of now owing to the nature of droughts. Droughts occur slowly as compared to other natural hazards. They start without warning. Prolonged periods of no or acute rainfall can bring about crop failure, which in turn increases the vulnerability to food shortage. As a corollary, agrarian families that are directly dependent on the natural environment for their livelihood have to migrate. However, a single event of drought might not trigger migration. Due to this, the link between slow onsetting environmental changes like droughts and migration are not immediately apparent as sporadic droughts do not usually cause a large number of people to leave their living environment. Repeated droughts however can induce forced migration as without water for both drinking and irrigation purposes, people are compelled to move elsewhere as a means of survival.

Future Projections
Based on the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) 2010 report, due to effects of climate change, out of 75 districts in Nepal, 29 are highly vulnerable to natural hazards. Of the 29, 22 are drought-prone. Despite a paucity of data, it is safe to assume that these 22 districts will be the most vulnerable should the significant and consistent increase in temperature projected for Nepal over the coming years translate into drought conditions. In addition there are 12 districts vulnerable to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).

Programmes like Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA) have focused on the possibility of drought and have tried to mitigate the effects by encouraging ground water storage in communities, harvesting rain water, and so on. However, the enforced mobility of populations such as in Upper Mustang has not been given attention, despite the fact that it may become a necessity.

Human Mobility
Human mobility in the context of climate change and livelihood choices is based on individual capacities to access social and natural resources. Human mobility could manifest itself in the form of evacuation, temporary displacement, cross-border movement, planned relocation and so on. This has consequences of its own. High population density in one area can cause land stress as a disproportionate number of people will be dependent on a small amount of land for cultivation and agricultural purposes. Population stress on resources as a result of migration increases the chances of social conflict. This could manifest in the form increased competition over resources between local inhabitants and newly relocated populations. The relocation of people will influence the ecosystem at their destination by driving up demand for local and natural resources such as land, food, water, and fuel. Also, the relocation destination could already be under some water stress. Thus, more people will only add to the problem, making the site selection imperative.

Although this has so far been seen only in the two above-mentioned villages in Upper Mustang,  should relocation become inevitable, government policy must consider factors like potential social tensions, availability of cultivable land, and population density of the area to be relocated. Having key infrastructure in the place of relocation is important; this would include access to clean and drinkable water and water for other purposes, such as irrigation. Unless these factors are considered, arbitrary relocation could potentially cause  a backlash – usually in the form marginalisation - instead of providing relief to those relocating.

According to Nepal's Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, the country's average temperature is  increasing at an average rate of 0.04 degree celsius per year with the trend being much higher in the mountain region. Yet, the relationship between human mobility and climate change remains in the fringe of Nepal's policy discourse.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Nepal's Disaster Management Preparedness: Taking Stock

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.