Climate change has impacted almost all walks of life of the earth (NAPA, 2010). The rural communities in the developing countries are expected to be affected more due to their extensive dependence on climate sensitive livelihood options, and limited adaptative capacity to adapt to the changes (UNFCCC, 2009).
Climate change, undoubtly is a global issue, but its anomalies are observed at local level. Even at the local level, the most marginalized section of the community must be the focus as they are the ones who are the most vulnerable (Piya, 2012). In this direction, this report focuses on the Chepang community, one of the highly marginalized indigenous nationalities in the rural mid-hills of Nepal.
Who are Chepangs?
Chepangs are one of the indigenous nationalities constituting 0.23% of the total population of Nepal. More than 95% of Chepangs live in hilly villages of Chitwan, Makwanpur, Dhaging and Gorkha districts (CBS, 2008). Chepangs are believed to be until the last 100-150 years ago a nomadic group ranging the forests of Nepal. They live in areas most at risk to floods and landslides, are more reliant on local natural resources and would therefore suffer most from the drying up of local water resources or changes in vegetation cover (Piya, 2012).
The main objective of this study was to assess the climate change impacts on the livelihood of Chepang communities living in the area of Jugedi, Chitwan of central Nepal Mountain.
- To know the understanding of Chepang community on climate change impacts.
- To determine the impacts of climate change in agriculture and food security of the Chepangs of Jugedi.
- To determine the adaptation practices to cope with the climate change impacts.
Short glance of Chepang village:
Study Site: Kabilas VDC, Chitwan, Central Nepal
Study Time: February 20-28th (Field Visit)
GPS Location: 27.790N 84.480E
Wards: 9 total wards in Kabilas VDC and out of them Bharlang and Beldada ward number 1 and 9 were selected. Bharlang has a mix community of Newar, Gurung, Bhramin, etc whereas Beldada is totally inhabited by Chepangs.
Major Disaster owing to Climate Change: Kabilash had faced flooding as well as a huge landslide on B.S. 2060’s and 2063’s which had made it critical.
Though chepangs are considered as indigenous but they have their own way of living and they have adapted themselves to the harsh situations of Climate Change despite their poverty. Some of the findings were:
Understanding of People on Climate Change
We can see clearly that maximum people knew that climate of their area was changing and had more effect on their livelihood. Mostly affected parameters were agriculture and precipitation followed by water resources and temperature. However, the scenario was different for forest as the condition of forest was improving as it was turned into community forest.
Similarly, male people had much better understanding of these impacts compared to females. This dilemma might be because females are comparatively less educated than males.
The impacts of climate change in agriculture and food security:
Figure: impacts of Climate Change in agriculture and food security
According to the respondents, the major problem in agriculture was pest outbreak followed by decrease in productivity and changes in cropping cycles. People were lured towards animal husbandry and tomato farming due to decrease in production of staple crops like paddy, wheat, maize, millet, etc.
Adaptation practices of Chepang community to cope with the climate change impacts:
There are different organizations working in the area and they have helped to some extent to cope with the impacts of Climate Change. However, the glum is still on and yet there’s a lot to be improved in their scenario, some of the adaptation strategies followed by Chepangs of Kabilash for their livelihood are:
Construction of small scale plastic or cement water collection tanks;micro irrigation schemes
Pipelines and other irrigation canals
Forward Nepal;District Agriculture Development Office (DADO);Red Cross, PAN, VDC
home gardening, seed production programs, agroforestry integrating legumes crops; Collecting wild edibles, Wage labouring, Nonfarm jobs, Varietal selection, Adjusting sowing times (winter farming tomatoes, maize, potatoes), Cash crops, vegetables, liquor selling
Forward Nepal; Neighbours, VDC’s awareness programmes, RRN, Shram Nepal; Goat sharing schemes, loans as “Ghumti kosh”
Collection of NTFP’s from nearby forest
District CC coordination committee is doing awareness raising program -a radio program, Training in VDC level about LAPA , plantation programs in the villages.
Establishment of district Risk Reduction committee; Integrated Planning Commission with 22 members includes chepangs; Budget comes to mitigate CC impacts under Climate Change and mitigation Committee
- After a huge flood which had occurred some 10 years back, the whole Kabilas VDC was in trouble and this had wrecked the condition of chepangs.
- In one hand the poverty and disaster and on the other hand the impacts of climate change; challenging water, food security, forest and whole livelihood. However, different organizations are working for them. Also, people are doing some attempts to help themselves.
- The most important thing is their poverty, illiteracy, lack of confidence and their depending solely upon forest products; which have compelled them to be victimised
- Being in Chepang community for the first time was amazing; heart-touching, many organizations working for them yet they’re so backward. This is the main concern. To retify indigenous Chepangs developed modern human is a challenge but not impossible.
- At present climate change not just a talk it’s a hot cake and ready to burn out many areas including Chepangs communities with its bad impacts. so, any development programmes should prioritize CC adaptation as improperly planned programmes amplify the impacts.
- Lastly, hope Chepangs will get some attention and will be able to cope with the impacts of Climate Change.
Some moments with Chepangs:
“I am Reshu Bashyal doing my M.Sc. Second year at Central Department of Environmental Sciences, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Specialized in Climate Change and my thesis is also related to climate change. I am currently affiliated with Society for Climate Change Network Nepal, Environmental Graduates Himalayas (EGH) and ISET- N. I am also working as an Editor at EGH. I am involved inIntegrating urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry in city climate change strategies (RUAF Foundation and UN Habitat) project under ISET-N.”