Millions of Rural Poor in Nepal Could Face More Hunger as a Result of Climate Change; Situation 'Deeply Worrying'

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

In Delhi:
Press officer, Caroline Gluck
cgluck@oxfam.org.uk
+911 423 96000 x 216;
mobile +91 9999 139796

In Nepal:
Wayne Gum, Nepal country director
+9771 5530 574
Mobile +977 9851 026 079;
wgum@oxfam.org.uk

Report co-author Prabin Man Singh
+9771 5530 574
Mobile +977 9841 171461
pmansingh@oxfam.org.uk

Millions of Rural Poor in Nepal Could Face More Hunger as a Result of Climate Change; Situation 'Deeply Worrying'

The melting of the Himalayan glaciers will be felt well beyond Nepal’s borders

WASHINGTON - Poor crop yields, water
shortages and more extreme temperatures are pushing rural villagers
closer to the brink as climate change grips Nepal, according to a new
report launched by the international aid agency Oxfam.

In the report,  "Even the Himalayas Have Stopped Smiling:  Climate Change, Poverty and Adaptation in Nepal", 
farmers  told Oxfam that changing weather patterns had dramatically
affected crop production, leaving them unable to properly feed
themselves and getting into debt. Oxfam called the situation "deeply
worrying."

"Communities told us crop production is roughly half that of
previous years. Some said that while they used to grow enough food for
three to six months of the year, last year many could only grow enough
for one month's consumption," said Oxfam's Nepal country director,
Wayne Gum. "Poor farmers rely on rainfall. They farm small areas of
land which, at the best of times,  can barely produce enough food for
the family."

Currently, more than  3.4 million people in Nepal are estimated to
require food assistance, due to a combination of natural disasters,
including last year's winter drought - one of the worst in the
country's history. Higher food prices have also reduced people's
ability to purchase food. Although single drought events cannot be
attributed to climate change, climate models predict less winter rain,
indicating how  the current situation could get worse.

Among recent changes in weather patterns in Nepal are an increase in
temperature extremes, more intense rainfall and increased
unpredictability in weather patterns, including drier winters and
delays in the summer monsoons. The melting of the Himalayan glaciers
will also be felt well beyond Nepal's borders. Scientists warn that if
the Himalayan glaciers disappear - with some predicting this could
happen within 30 years - the impact would be felt by more than one
billion people across Asia.

Some of the heaviest burdens have fallen on women who are on the
frontline of climate change.  They have to travel  further distances to
fetch water and take  on the responsibility for feeding the family as
men in many poor households migrate seasonally to seek work.

"The predicted impacts of climate change will heighten existing
vulnerabilities, inequalities and exposure to hazards", said the report.

"Poor and marginalized communities tend to be those most vulnerable
to climate change and least able to cope with weather-related disasters
because of lack of access to information and resources to reduce their
risk."

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Nepal is one of the world's poorest nations, with 31% of its 28
million population living below the poverty line.  Most of Nepal's poor
live in rural areas that are  most at risk  to disasters such as floods
and landslides.

Oxfam says more work needs to be done in Nepal by the government and
international organisations to create greater awareness about climate
change and its likely impacts, to prioritize and institutionalize
actions at national level; and help communities to play a greater role
themselves in initiatives to reduce their vulnerability.

Nepal is extremely vulnerable to climate change; yet has one of the
lowest emissions in the world - just 0.025% of total global greenhouse
gas emissions.

Oxfam is calling on the world's richest countries, those most
responsible for global emissions,  to do more to help poor countries
like Nepal better adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change when
they meet to discuss a global climate treaty in Copenhagen in December
- in 100 days from tomorrow.

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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