"Every year there is a landslide and big rocks roll down
to our village. But what can we do? We cannot leave our village. The only
option is to run whenever there is a landslide.”
So spoke a woman in Lupra, a village in the mountainous
district of Mustang in Nepal which I visited earlier this year. I was in her
village to run a community assessment for the Climate Asia project, a research
and communications project that aims to understand people perceptions,
experiences and responses to climate change to inform communication activities
and programmes that can help them.
With a heartbreaking air of helplessness, the woman told me
how the villagers have to cope with landslides and floods every year. She told
me they’re also very afraid of “glacier lake outburst floods” (GLOFs), which
could sweep away their homes at any time. The floods, she said, were
increasing because of the ice melting on the mountains.
I had many conversations like this during the project. And
every time I would ask myself how our project could help people like her.
Picture of man on drum – caption: A man calls the villagers to gather for the Climate Asia community assessment by beating his drum.
Hunger for information
During my discussions with the villagers, I found that they
were hugely interested in the research and really wanted information about how
to cope with their situation.
Using their own money, the village had adapted to their
changing environment already, building pipes to bring water up to their village
and small water collection tanks, in addition to strengthening their flood
A man calls the villagers to gather for the Climate Asia community assessment by beating his drum.
But I found out the villagers just didn’t know how to tackle
such large-scale landslides and flooding. Similarly, our research found that
across Nepal, 59% of people felt that crop production had decreased as a result
of changes in climate and most were trying to cope but struggling. From the
2,4000 people we surveyed in Nepal, we built up a picture of a nation of people
who are trying to adapt to the changes they experience, but finding it very
Knowing your audience
After two years of talking to people like the villagers in
Lupra and writing reports, we launched our findings this week in Kathmandu.
As we presented our results in front of non-governmental
organisations, academics and media professionals, I couldn’t help but remember
the despair and demand for information I encountered in Lupro and thought, will
people really able to understand their predicament and be able to respond?
Thankfully, my fears were quickly abated and I will always
remember our launch day as a special and positive moment.
Not only did lots of people attend the launch but they
showed a lot of interest in our findings and how these can help them to support
people. There was a very positive response and an interest in using not only
our data but also the toolkits we created to help organisations, government and
media design communications.
While there's a long way to go, I'm hopeful that villages
like Lupra won’t feel as helpless as before.