In the climate change front, this month saw a series of cases on landslides, water scarcity and decrease in paddy plantation raising concerns among affected and the farmers. Every year, impact of climate change is getting more and more visible, endangering lives and livelihood of the people. With growing incidents and risks, the Government of Nepal needs to be well prepared for the imminent disasters to protect human security. Similarly, there is an increase in cholera cases, and significant rise in corona cases which is predicted to push Nepal into another wave of COVID-19. Whereas, with regards to Nepal’s attempts at progressing in the digital world, its monetary policy aims to digitalize Nepal’s banking system with the formulation of new legislations.
Timeline of Major Events
|July 6||Additional 2 lakh 23 thousand families are listed as poor by Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation|
|July 7||Sajha Yatayat Started 3 electric bus inside Kathmandu Valley|
|July 8||President Bidya Devi Bhandari authorized the amendment bill for Plant Protection Act and Seed Act|
|July 13||Sustainable Development and Good Governance Committee held a meeting on Disaster Risk Management and decided to take steps toward Disaster Risk Management|
|July 15||World Bank has approved to provide Nepal with 100 million Dollars to promote green Nepal and inclusion, and mitigate impact of climate change. The Indian Government provided flood victims with 3 thousand tent and 10 rubber boats.|
|July 21||Ministry of Health and Population issued 10-point guidelines for Health protection due to increased COVID cases.|
Climate Change: Disaster Risk Management, Water Scarcity and its Impact in Agriculture
Climate crisis has continued to adversely affect Nepal. Loss in crops, floods, landslides, drought has increased and risked people’s lives and livelihoods. Similarly, water resources and disaster risk management are the immediate environmental problems facing Nepal. Water resources drying up and depletion of underground water even during the monsoon season, raises the issue of water scarcity in the country. Furthermore, irregular monsoon showers caused a rise temperature, mostly the hilly region, of Nepal. According to meteorological forecasting department, it is due to more than average shift in the axis of monsoon trough towards the south (India) this year. Many are facing water scarcity making daily livelihood difficult (women traveling far to fetch water, women health issues, food scarcity, youth travel foreign for employment).
Amidst the fertilizer shortage over the past months and continuing concerns on paddy plantation due to erratic rain despite it being paddy planting season has left farmers distressed. According to statistics, until mid-July last year around 76% of plantation was achieved, but this year only plantation could only reach 54.3%. It is predicated that if plantation does not reach 80%, it will severely effect paddy production of the country.
The government has already prepared Nepal water resource strategy 2002, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation National Policy 2004, National water resource plan 2005, Water Supply Management Board Act (2006) and National water resource policy 2021. However, the lack of implementation has rendered these plans and programs ineffective and failed to resolve water scarcity problems in the country.To address the issues of Disaster Risk Management, Sustainable Development and Good Governance Committee held a meeting and decided to take certain steps since those affected have not been compensated on damages caused by floods and landslides, and the need to keep account of damages is essential to mitigating the severity of the situation. It is important for the government to conduct studies on impact of climate change and agriculture optimization in the country, create strategies for water management in high rainfall seasons to meet dry seasons, and seek out climate friendly alternatives with the federal government’s support to local governments in fulfilling their responsibility in addressing these issues. On a positive note, monetary policy published on July 22, clause 104 provides to draft a ‘green taxonomy’ plan which promotes green financing and determines the required funds to address the issues. If the policy comes into operation, this will benefit the country, the environment and people.
Cholera Outbreak and Omicron New Variant BA.5: Another Wave?
In the beginning of the month, sporadic occurrence of cholera outbreak was mostly seen in Kathmandu valley. DWSSM, KUKL and EDCD had jointly tested 62 samples of water, where 41 of them were contaminated with fecal E. coli. Total no. of cases until 26 July has reached 36. Experts have said that Kathmandu is reeling from a waste management problem, uncleanliness, water sanitation issues that have led to these issues. Although vaccine request for the disease was made out to international vaccine institutes such as IVI and WHO, IVI was not able to provide the vaccines, whereas, answers from WHO is still being awaited. Government should take water sanitation and city waste management seriously to protect people’s health and implement measures to eradicate/minimize future outbreaks.
Adding to the crisis, a new variant of omicron called BA.5 has been detected. It has resulted in the steady and significant rise in COVID cases which is also likely to increase the need for hospitalization. On July 21, Ministry of Health and Population forwarded 10-point guidelines to 77 District Administrative Office and related institutions throughout the country. Also, learning from previous impacts. Nepalgunj, Belahiya, Jhapa have set up a help desk at the borders testing for COVID as cases in India are on the rise, and Nepal is likely to see the spillover effects. Hence, pre-cautions and measures from the government is essential at this point. Nepal suffered tremendously during the first two waves as many lives were lost due to the lack essential services such as hospitals beds and oxygen cylinders and the overall unpreparedness of the government which brought about health crisis in the country.