Changing weather threatening livelihoods

Changing weather threatening livelihoods

Bhattegaun, Nepal: Three years ago, Naina Shahi’s husband left their small village in rural Nepal to seek work in neighbouring India, leaving her to bring up their three children alone.

The dry winters and unpredictable monsoons Nepal has experienced in recent years had hit crop production on the couple’s plot in the foothills of the Himalayas, forcing them to look for other ways to feed their family.

For the past two years, their crop has failed entirely and Shahi now buys rice on credit from a local shopkeeper while she waits for her husband to return to their village with his earnings.

“My husband stopped farming because this place is not good for growing crops. We needed to earn money to feed the children," Shahi, 35, said in the remote village of Bhattegaun in mid-western Nepal. “There is not enough rainfall for the crops to grow well and we have to walk for 2 or 3 hours every day to get water."

International aid agency Oxfam says Nepal’s changing weather patterns are threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of desperately poor communities already struggling to produce enough food to survive.

In a new report released Friday, 100 days before a conference in Copenhagen aimed at sealing an international accord on fighting climate change, Oxfam warns of the potentially devastating effects on people in the Himalayan nation.

Almost a third of Nepal’s 28 million people live below the poverty line and the UN’s World Food Programme said recently there had been a “sharp and sustained decline in food security" in recent years.