Garmi se Behal?
Chalo Nepal
Nepal ka Tarai or mid valleys ka kya haal?

Ajaya Dixit
Across the countries in the Northern Hemisphere in 2023 high temperatures and heat domes scorched cities. Governments issued heat warnings and in cities of Global North, many went to cooling centers for respite. Heat stress and stroke led to deaths. These extremes of climate attributed to climate change are hard to ignore. A year ago, in 2022 Indus and Ganga plains faced scorching heat from March to May. So, did our plains and valleys. Interestingly, Nepali entrepreneurs saw this extreme as an opportunity and coined the slogan garmi se behal, chalo Nepal. Indeed, in summer our mountain tops are cooler but not the Tarai and river valley corridors, below about 600m in elevation.

The path to “development” that began with the advent of coal-fired pumps in the UK heralded industrial civilization. It also led to the pumping of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The gases prevent part of the energy that the earth receives from the sun from exiting the earth’s atmosphere. This adds heat. Today atmosphere has more anthropogenic gases accumulated, hence more heat and the average global temperature is 1.2 degrees higher compared to the pre-industrial average.

In addition, the global atmosphere today has more moisture (humidity) than in the past. The combination of temperature and humidity increases wet bulb temperature with serious implications and is exacerbated by urban heat island effects in many cities. With the emission of greenhouse gases likely to continue raising both temperature and humidity, what does this scenario imply for adaptation?

Another important question is what would people living in Nepal’s Tarai and mid-river corridors, below the 600 m elevation, do to adapt when days and nights become too hot? Nepal’s Tarai faced extreme temperatures in the summer of 2023 and so did the settlements along river corridors. Today more than 50 percent of Nepal’s population lives in Tarai, and when those in the river corridor region are added, the share goes further up. Furthermore, the rate of rural-urban migration and the rate of urban growth is rapidly increasing.

Ajaya will use the five pillars of resilience as an entry point to explore changing climate exposure including the threat of heat in Nepal Tarai as runaway climate change and terrestrial change processes occur simultaneously. He will aim to suggest the five pillars as one approach to addressing emerging challenges.

About the Speaker: Ajaya Dixit’s current work focuses on looking at the challenges of building resilience across boundaries and at sub-national scales.  He has studied and written extensively on water resources, transboundary water cooperation, flood management, wash services, and climate change adaptation and continues to pursue the study of these themes. Since 2020 he has been curating, South Asia Nadi Sambad (SOANAS), a digital platform aimed at promoting dialogues on water challenges across disciplines and geographies. Presently, he is a Senior Advisor at the Institute of Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) Nepal, a visiting Professor of Practice at Kathmandu School of Law, and Senior Fellow at SAWTEE, Nepal.

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