In the first instalment of our #CoolerPlanet series, Kabita from Nepal, a recent International Citizen Service volunteer, explains how climate change is affecting her country already and the trouble they have in tackling it amongst many other issues facing the country. The #CoolerPlanet series will be publishing new perspectives from young people all over the world in the build up to the crucial climate talks (COP21) in Paris this December.
Despite being a relatively small country, Nepal has a diverse climatic structure ranging from tropical in the south to alpine to the north. The country has three distinct geographies: the snow covered Mountains, the slope Mid-hills and flatland of theTerai. So we face all kinds of climate change threats.
In the Mountains, avalanche, glacial lake outbursts and snowstorms are great threats. People who live in the Mid-hills face landslides, and people who live on the Terai face heat waves and floods. These are the bigger effects of climate change and can be seen by the world easily. However, we are also facing numerous small but serious other issues like drought, unexpected hailstones, variability in temperature and rainfall, drying wells and water resources.
All of a sudden all water resources have dried back in my birth place, a village three hours bus travel from Kathmandu. Those water resources had long history and civilization. Nowadays when I go back to my village I have to walk thirty minutes to fetch drinking water. I experience the same in Kathmandu as well. A lot of things have been changed since 2005 – all the stone taps have dried. Ten years ago you could see beautiful stone taps around city.
My mother says when she was very young her village was covered by snow in the winter. Now that has become history. Nowadays I myself feel less cold then in my childhood. People say the hills around Kathmandu used to be covered by snow regularly in winter.
A huge number of people are being killed by natural disasters,and the number is going up every year. For example around 43 people were killed by a snowstorm on the way to Thorang-La, famous trek route, in October 2014.This year around 240 people were killed by avalanche after occurrence of massive earthquake in Langtang valley.
I think we are not a mass producer of anti-environmental elements and pollution, unlike developed countries, but are severe victim of climate change.It is not only the issue of polluted air produced by multinational companies but also the issue of their chemical and poisonous products. We are not a producer of chemicals.
In the past we used to use compost in field,now our field has been chemicalized. As a result my family is losing our crops of almond and pulse, and are producing less cereal. Elder people are disappointed that there is no taste in food like there used to be. My father says there used to be so many fishes, frogs, bees and worms in the field. We have lost them all. And some species of birds are disappearing day by day. Not only that, long term diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, kidney failure, cancer are also emerging.
In our case we have other urgent priorities like fulfillment of food, shelter, clothes and other basic needs. We cannot think about climate change when we have hungry stomachs.