Climate change and rural livelihoods in Nepal


Start date: 31 August, 2009 End date: 29 April, 2013 Project type: Smaller projects: Postdoc Project code: 09-006LIFE Countries: Nepal Thematic areas: Climate change, Natural resource management, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Policy Brief: Policy Brief Project coordinator: Anja Byg Total grant: 2,397,695 DKK Project files:

Project summary

The aim of the project is to investigate consequences of climate change for the livelihoods of rural populations in three areas in Nepal and how people try to adapt to these changes. Emphasis will be on rural people’s own perceptions, experiences and interpretations as these form the basis on which people decide about their future livelihood strategies and which actions are deemed appropriate and necessary. The project will therefore investigate which livelihood changes people have experienced, how they interpret these, what is their relative importance, and what strategies they use to cope with them. Especially consequences for the sustainable use and management of natural resources such as wood and medicinal plants are of interest as these play important roles in development strategies. Therefore emphasis will be put on these resources and forest user groups and medicinal plant collectors will be included in the project. Adaptation to climate change depends on the resources (including local knowledge) and options available to people, and how these options are evaluated. Therefore it will also be investigated how people’s personal circumstances and (material and non-material) assets, user group organisation and resources are related to their decisions and efforts at adaptation. The results will be of relevance to development strategies by providing information on local concerns and needs and by identifying obstacles and opportunities for successful adaptation.


Project Completion Report:

Climate change is already visible in Nepal in the form of melting snow, more unreliable rain and increasing temperatures. These changes are noticed by local people and are felt through their impacts on crop yields. However, so far the negative impacts of climate change are being off-set by other developments such as agricultural intensification and a growing tendency for rural families to incorporate non-agricultural income sources in their livelihoods. Although these initiatives have seldomly taken place in response to climate change as such, they have nevertheless made many rural families less sensitive to climate change impacts. However, not all of these changes can be regarded as sustainable in the long term. Use of agrochemicals is having increasingly negative impacts on health and environment, valuable genetic resources are being lost as traditional crops are being replaced by hybrid varieties, and members of lower castes often lack the necessary connections and resources to take advantage of new opportunities which may help them to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

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