Community Based Climate Solutions In Nepal

Kaitlyn West

Dr. Webler

ENST-492

December 11, 2018

 

Sustainable Efforts Within Nepal Villages

 

Many individuals around the world are aware of the climate changes that we are experiencing, but still find it hard to make that jump from awareness, like seeing and hearing about it, to actually acting on it on a local community- based level. Many cultures around the world view climate change and its effects differently. Some cultures that are traditionally more intact with the environment, either relying on it for food, shelter, or a sense of income have a stronger desire to mitigate climate change effects and prevent further damage. Not everyone perceives climate change as a threat or see the effects of climate change on a daily basis, leading to an avoidance of the problem, and many do not act on it. Some may only see the effects of climate change on the news or on social media, or simply hear about something going on around the world from a friend. There are many sustainable projects around the world that have been planned or completed, with endless creative opportunity to be intertwined.

Sustainability is a very important concept for many Nepali people. With more than a quarter of Nepal falling below the poverty line, and with a lack of resources within the country, it is under some extreme threat in many cases. Sustainable practices play a huge role in an average day in Nepal; it is shown through the way they interact, grow food, travel, and live. It does not take much to convince a Nepali person that climate change is present, because there is no doubt that it affects them, and even more today than not.  According to an article by The Guardian, “the amount of heavy rainfall in the Himalaya’s causes an overall increase in earthquakes following a hurricane and heavy storm” (McGuire). With rising global temperatures, comes more activity of particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a trend of more rainfall annually. The devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal took about 9,000 lives and ranked about a 7.8 magnitude. As global population increases, the demand for rapid urbanization is increasing, leaving little arable land to grow crops. This is hard to find in Nepal, where the climate might not be ideal for growing all year round. Many people in Nepal depend on agriculture as their main source of income, and this is very dependent on a productive growing season. All animal and agricultural productions depend on the productivity of the land throughout growing seasons, and with the numerous weather fluctuations that we see in the weather today, it is hard to predict. A lot of landscapes have been changed throughout the city of Kathmandu, Nepal, due to socioeconomic or natural factors like natural disasters. The frequent earthquakes in Nepal leave many people devastated and displaced as a nation. An extremely unfortunate event like this one occurs in Nepal this intensely just about once every few years. After devastating times, it is hard for a nation to get back on their feet and regain strength and confidence again after 2 tragic earthquakes in two months.

This one Nepali man Krishna Gurung decided to take something that is looked at as trash and turned it into a renewable resource in his own village of Kathmandu. Krishna used plastic bottles, cans, glass, and rubble to construct his communities’ own renewable houses throughout the villages. This process is carbon free and does not require any other materials than trash, and dedication to the community and the people around. This action in the community was intended to clean up trash, as well as do something creative and productive with it, like use the glass bottles and cans. Thousands of houses get destroyed from these natural disasters, and one idea that Krishna had with the bottles was to mitigate the number of deaths that he unfortunately was seeing across his villages. With bottle houses, there is no dangerous rubble that has the potential to kill any villager that is living in the house. It is devastating to think of all of the time, money, and effort put in to building a house and a life within and around it, to only have it get completely destroyed from an uncontrollable factor for some people.

Some challenges that people may face in smaller, rural communities, is access to resources around to build houses. Even resources like timber and stone may be scarce, or expensive to buy, which is why using the recycled material there and the natural resources in the area are much more cost efficient and overall much more sustainable. Community members collaborated and collected the minimal resources around, like dirt, mud, cow dung, rock debris and even paper to make cement for the leftover trash, rubble, glass and cans. There are many pros to the process of using trash as its own renewable resources, like simply reducing waste, land and water pollution, and providing a cleaner community for people to live in. Another strength this provides to the community, is by adding a strong social value and connection for the people living and working on the houses and land that could be their own one day to maintain. The community finds strength and gratitude towards the nonprofit organizations like Krishna’s that provide better outcomes for communities and their futures.

His projects were intended to help his community out in a number of ways; providing housing to people that may not be able to afford it, providing a safer infrastructure for the community, and reducing plastic pollution and overall carbon emissions. Krishna claims that the “aim of his organization is to create a healthy, sustainable environment, embodying eco-friendly practices for the well-being of the local communities.” In Nepal, it may be extremely hard to find health clinics, and modern-day medicine in smaller villages that do not have access to these resources. According to a study in 2016 by the Asian Development Bank, “a thousand of children died before turning five in Nepal” (ADB).  Krishna’s goal of creating a sustainable community involves a few different aspects; reliable health care and clinics for villagers, providing birth control for women, and educating the public about holistic practices. Many of Krishna’s other projects within his organization include acres of organic bio-agriculture practices. Bio agriculture includes integrating multiple different crops, to maximize the amount of nutrients in the soil. This process helps revitalize soils and transform arable land into functionable land. This provides jobs for villagers around to provide for the land and create something more efficiently.

Krishna saw this land transformation as a chance to bring something back in his village. By bringing the community together, they practice organic bio-agriculture, revitalizing and restoring soil beds to grow crops for the cities and villages. Bio agriculture uses organic farming methods, no fertilizers or pesticides and can influence successful environmental management. Villagers can learn sustainable farming techniques and learn how to grow crops of their own. This is especially important in small villages, that become self- reliant on food. It is important to keep the environment sustainable, when there is not unlimited access to natural resources in that area, and the demand for imported food is reduced. This is the background behind all of Krishna’s projects that he introduces to the villagers of Kathmandu. His main message to his community is to use the resources that are right in front of you. If more people thought this way, the world would be very different and much more sustainable.

Like Kathmandu and other bigger cities around Nepal, these communities found strength, and hope within these low budget, eco-friendly houses, greenhouses, and green projects that are being placed throughout their villages, and the other projects that have been brought in. This gives hope for reliable housing for those that cannot afford to keep rebuilding after natural disasters and gives hope to the people living here that they feel more secure, and healthy. It does not take a lot of convincing to change an individual’s perception of climate change, when it is directly affecting your daily life like these people in Nepal. For some place that does not contribute nearly as much carbon output as somewhere like the United States, they are still directly seeing the causes in front of them, and the sporadic weather patterns, and rising temperatures typically affect them more than the average person.

Krishna helps reduce his villages carbon footprint tremendously by the projects he has put on, and the lifestyle changes he has influenced all around his community village. Krishna’s number of projects were established as a memorial for his son Kevin Rohan who passed away in 2008 from medical problems. His goal of creating a sustainable environment and eco-friendly programs around Nepal started chain reactions and began with his improvement of medical care. His programs are intended to get community members involved and help restore the local landscapes and architecture in a more sustainable way. This community- based climate change approach has definitely been a success in many Nepali cities, especially around Kathmandu.  I saw Krishna Gurung put on a presentation two times here on campus at Keene State, and I was personally inspired and changed even more, each time. You can see his determination, perseverance, and love for his community and country within the projects that he does. Krishna is a true inspiration for many people around the world, to change the way we can look at resources differently, use what you have, reduce carbon emissions and waste materials, as well as educating the public and bringing community members together to grow.

This action in his community is likely to be successful in areas that experience the same kinds of disasters and have similar qualities. I think the process of cultivating fresh new land into sustainable, efficient, and eco-friendly housing and infrastructures could be extremely successful on a much smaller scale, such as small villages in Nepal and other countries that suffer from similar natural disasters, poverty rates, and social problems. A warmer climate would be more suitable for these types of sustainable infrastructures, for health and safety reasons, yet the other projects that Krishna has introduced into Kathmandu and surrounding cities can be used all over the world today as well. Bio-agriculture and organic farming is a sustainable solution to large monoculture farming and the reliance of that we see in our world today. Revitalizing soils, and restoring landscapes is extremely important to grow crops especially in third world countries today where food security is threatened.

These projects could be taken more seriously throughout the world today and brought into even bigger cities in more economically stable countries. Nepal suffers tremendously from global climate changes that we are seeing around the world today, regarding poor air quality, leading to many health problems, and continuous weather fluctuations resulting in extreme environmental damage. It is important to tackle this problem on a community- based level because everybody is affected by these problems in the community, it is not just one targeted group. Community based climate change approaches start with an understanding of the area’s capability and resilience, as well as the resources that surround it. There are many steps to follow and look at while adapting a community- based approach against climate change. First, a community must select and understand the behavior they would like to adapt to; This could be, using less greenhouse gases and plastic, or using less water. The community must understand the impact of changing this behavior, for the better of the community and for the environment around them. This does not mean just conquering this task one time, or for one year; it is an adaptive change in behavior that the community is seeking.

 

Krishna saw the opportunity for action in his community, and a little work went a long way. Many people in Nepal are already convinced that climate change is happening, because they see it all around them with changing weather patterns, and warmer growing seasons. Many villagers are aware that change needs to happen soon, but the concern for resources in a community is threatening. I believe this is why Krishna’s program in Nepal is so important, to show people how to fight climate change, live and adapt with it, to create a better outcome for future generations. Money is typically a common denominator to look at when taking action to fight climate change. With Krishna’s bottle house building program, he was able to take a free resource like plastic, in his community and turn it into productivity and life. This is a no cost project, and this is extremely important in a place like Nepal that deals with poverty and devastation throughout the year.

By implementing this idea and adaptive program to his community in Kathmandu Valley, he was able to provide housing for hundreds and spread a message of hope and knowledge along the way with his beautiful bottle house artwork. It is important to celebrate local successes in communities when fighting and adapting to climate change, because any bit of hope and motivation is what is going to save our future generations. With mitigated climate change and carbon free solutions, such as a few of Krishna’s ideas, we can create a more sustainable future for our children, with appropriate strategies necessary to carry out this action. A community -based approach, allows more minds to creatively work together with more input, and more hands-on work. The power behind a community of strong -minded people who want change, is unstoppable. Change takes time, and once these changes are adapted into a community it becomes an inspirational lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

 

Aaron, A. (2012). Bottle Houses in Nepal. In Permies.com. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://permies.com/t/18903/Bottle-Houses-Nepal

 

Agrawala, S., Raksakulthai, V., Aalst, M., Larsen, P., Smith, J., & Reynolds, J. (2003). Development and Climate Change in Nepal: Focus on water resources and hydropower. In Environment Direct Development. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://search.oecd.org/env/cc/19742202.pdf

 

Bhagawat, R. (2005). APPLICATION OF REMOTE SENSING AND GIS, LAND USE/LAND COVER CHANGE IN KATHMANDU METROPOLITAN CITY, NEPAL. . In Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from http://www.jatit.org/volumes/research-papers/Vol23No2/3Vol23No2.pdf

 

 

Bio-agricultural farming practices (n.d.). In Organic Federation of Australia. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from http://bio-agriculture.org/bio-agriculture_2.html

 

Groves, S. (2017, April 6). Nepal’s air pollution threatens humans and glaciers. In PRI. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-04-06/nepal-s-air-pollution-threatens-humans-and-glaciers

 

 

Gurung, K. (2018). The Foundations Past Progress. In Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from http://www.krmef.org/krishnaswork/

 

 

Hahnel, U. J., & Brosch, T. (2016, October 24). Seeing Green: A Perceptual Model of Identity-Based Climate Change Judgments. In Taylor Francis Online. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1047840X.2016.1215205?journalCode=hpli20

 

 

Macfarlane, A. (1976). Resources and population: a study of the Gurungs of Nepal. In PopLine Health. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.popline.org/node/497118

 

Manandhar, S., & Perret, S. R. (2011). Adapting cropping systems to climate change in Nepal: a cross-regional study of farmers’ perception and practices. In Regional Environmental Change. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs10113-010-0137-1.pdf

 

 

McGuire, B. (2016, October 16). How climate change triggers earthquakes, tsunami’s and volcanoes. In The Guardian. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/16/climate-change-triggers-earthquakes-tsunamis-volcanoes

 

Poverty in Nepal (2018, January). In Asian Development Bank. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.adb.org/countries/nepal/poverty

 

 

 

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