Energy, environment,
climate and disaster-risk

For the locals of the village of Gadhi in Surkhet, a UNDP-supported project designed to supply piped water to households through a locally-managed distribution system has completely altered their prospects, particularly that of women. Photo: UNDP Nepal

In depth

Nepal is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Globally, it is ranked fourth, eleventh and thirtieth in terms of vulnerability to climate change, earthquake and flood risks respectively. More than 27,000 deaths – an average of more than two every day –occurred, and approximately five million people were affected due to natural disasters during the period of 1971-2007. As climate change impacts increase, Nepal’s vulnerability continues to grow. About 80 per cent of Nepal’s population lives in rural areas, and improving the resilience of the villages is crucial. Around 70 per cent of Nepal’s population depends upon agriculture and even slight changes in climatic conditions can have a major impact on their lives and livelihoods.

Nepal has a rich geography, with tall mountains spanning its northern border. But behind this beauty grave disaster risks lurk. Nepal has 20 of the 200 potentially dangerous glacial lakes. Three
of these lakes, the Tso Rolpa, Imja and Thulagi, are in critical condition and need immediate attention to reduce risk of outburst oods. The increased rate of glacial melting not only threatens mountain dwellers of Nepal but also a affects millions living along South Asian rivers and in the delta basin of Bangladesh. Such far-reaching consequences of climatic changes can undermine development and reverse development gains. Addressing current and future risks requires a comprehensive preparedness programme, including integration of preparedness in development programming—as well as a solid repository of disaster knowledge and trained human resources.

While enhancing resilience of communities, it is equally important to improve living standards so that they can adapt to changes in the environment better. Evidence shows that increasing access to energy has positive knock-on effect on efforts to reduce poverty.

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