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Climate Change and Nepal’s food insecurity
October 6, 2017
Food insecurity and malnutrition is one of the major health issues caused by climate change. It is irrefutably the most important consequences to the poor and least developed countries like Nepal where about quarter of the population are living in poverty. When the underlying population is starving and the fact that food security directly impacts human health is evident, all other problems besides being food secure becomes secondary. To aggravate the situation further, the constantly changing climatic pattern is constantly threatening the major basis of livelihood of the country i.e. agriculture.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Nepal, “over the last decade, around 30,845 hectares of land owned by almost five percent of households became uncultivable due to the climate-related hazards”. Majority of the land under cultivation (76%) is rain-fed which has been affected by the erratic patterns of rainfall, drought, flash floods, landslide et cetera over the years. The reduced winter crop production due to lower post-monsoon precipitation directs a concern of food security amongst those residing in Hill and Mountain areas that are economically and environmentally highly vulnerable to climate changes.
Ranked 4th under Climate Vulnerability Index, it is not easier for Nepal to jump out of the vulnerable condition mainly due to the tough topographic barrier and low infrastructural sufficiency. The most relevant example of how unprepared we are to the climate-related risks is the occurrence of flash flood in 2017 which caused 80% of the southern agricultural belt to submerge in water causing a loss of about 57 million USD of agricultural crops and also claimed hundreds of lives.