Nepal is known for its majestic mountain peaks and rich cultural heritage, but natural disasters are also a part of life at the foot of the Himalayas. Flooding, landslides, and wildfires are regular occurrences in Nepal and, with the climate crisis upon us, are expected to increase in frequency and become more unpredictable.
Annual summer monsoons sweep into Nepal’s southern plains, soaking rice paddies and vegetable fields. Too much rain brings flooding and can sometimes cause mountain slopes to collapse, resulting in dangerous landslides.
In 2017, during the annual monsoon, some areas of Nepal received 17 in of rainfall in just eight hours. An estimated 460,000 had to leave their homes, often with nowhere to go. Especially hard-hit were poor, smallholder farmers.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reported 2017 damage losses estimated at $585 million and recovery needs at $705 million. To cover such losses, Nepal needs international assistance.
Climate change is blamed for another of Nepal’s greatest threats—melting glaciers. According to the UNDP, “Glaciers melt, forming lakes filled with millions of cubic meters of water, soil, and rock. Outbursts can have catastrophic consequences for communities living downstream, taking lives and washing away livelihoods, assets, and infrastructure. In September 2020, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and UNDP produced a report that 21 glacial lakes in Nepal are at risk of bursting.”
In response to such disasters, the Nepalese Government, coordinating with UNDP, is working on disaster-preparedness plans that will include inputs from women, indigenous communities, and those with disabilities.
Addressing climate change will also be an integral part of the government’s disaster mitigation program and will include “early warning systems, off-grids clean energy solutions, and reforestation” in securing a safer future for all of Nepal’s citizens.
Source: UNDP report