Thursday, May 29, 2014

To reduce flood threats, Nepal builds climate risk into planning

Naresh Newar at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: It is nearly time for the monsoon, but there has not been even a drop of rain yet in this village on the fringes of Chitwan National Park, a deep worry for local farmers. Retired forest guard Potahariyu Chaudhary, 65, looks at his dry maize fields and says he doubts the monsoon will ever be normal again. “The climate is getting strange in this country. Either it is too dry or disastrous,” he said.

Chaudhary, like his neighbours, has endured plenty of droughts and severe floods over the last few decades in this flattest, most flood-prone district of Nepal. The worst flooding, in 1993, wiped out his crops and house, killed his livestock and nearly swept away his traumatized wife and children.

“Our eyes are constantly on the rivers and we all take turns every day to check the level of Narayani River,” said Chaudhary’s 29-year old son, Ranjan, who remembers being carried on his father’s shoulder to safety through a previous flood.

In neighboring Harnari village, the last big flood displaced 300 households for months. “It’s almost 10 years since the last big flood and we are all worried we might have another disaster,” 55-year old Kumar Chettri said. “That is where all the floods will attack from,” he said, pointing towards the north of the village, an area planned government-provided embankments and dikes have yet to reach.

The vulnerability of these villages also means grave danger for nearby Chitwan National Park, a key tourist attraction in Nepal and one of the last refuges for the endangered Bengal tiger and home to some of the largest populations of Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros....

A grounded boat in Chitwan National Park, shot by MMuzammils, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

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