March Analysis: National Security and Climate Change

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Timeline of Major Events

DateKey Events
2nd MarchA joint meeting between the wildlife officials of Nepal and India was conducted to address the issues of human-wildlife conflict
25th MarchChinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi arrived in Nepal
23rd MarchMinistry of Forests and Environment organized a “Regional Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Mountain Solutions’

Security Implications of Local Elections

As per the recommendation of Election Commission, the government announced that the local elections will be held on May 13 in one phase. To address the security challenges of local election, Central Security Committee endorsed an integrated security plan. Similarly, Nepal Police announced the recruitment of 100,000 temporary police. The main role of temporary police officials is peacekeeping during the elections and safeguarding election booths.

Local elections have different security implications including security threat against participants, infrastructure, information, and materials. One of the major concerns of any election is vote manipulation during the counting process. To tackle this issue, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has urged local levels to install CCTV cameras in vote counting centers. This way election commission can monitor the activities through CCTV camera. Some of the major issues during the Local Level Elections of 2017 were violence regarding the election, lack of voter’s education, violence against journalists, and abuse of alcohol for voter manipulation. The upcoming elections also present similar security challenges which need a coordinated effort from security apparatus, local governments, and the election commission to tackle these issues.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

In recent years, instances of human-wildlife conflict have increased. In Salyan more than 100 families have been displaced due to animals from Banke National Park destroying agriculture and livestock. To address these issues, a joint meeting between the wildlife officials of Nepal and India was conducted on March 2. Human-Wildlife conflict has been a growing issue which has resulted in agriculture, livestock, and even human life loss.

According to a report, instances of conflict are present in around 90 percent of the districts in Nepal. Most of these occur along the buffer zone areas of national parks. In recent years, the hilly region of Nepal has also been highly susceptible to human-wildlife conflict. To accommodate the needs of growing population, human settlements have altered the land use pattern by clearing forests to make room for agricultural land. Furthermore, climate change may also have added to this problem by disrupting the natural ecosystem. The habitat destruction of animals has enabled them to move closer to the human settlements. For instance, every year wild elephants wreak havoc in terai which is mainly caused by disruption of their migration pattern due to the fragmentation of their habitat.

It has been found that human fatalities are mainly caused by elephants and leopards. So, nationwide research should be conducted to identify the major human-wildlife conflict hotspots. This would help to develop strategies such as construction of electric fences to reduce the conflict. Similarly, deploying different techniques such as building predator proof corrals and planting unpalatable crops to wildlife will be helpful in protecting agriculture. Along with protecting vulnerable communities, it is equally important to protect the wildlife. So, development of wildlife corridors could be effective in resolving these issues.

Implications of Chure destruction

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. Hence, the Ministry of Forests and Environment has planned to organize a “Regional Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Mountain Solutions’ on March 23rd and 24th which will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. According to the IPCC report published in 2022, mountain ecosystems are some of the most vulnerable regions to the impact of climate change. Around 86% of Nepal’s total landmass is covered by Chure, Mahabharata, highlands, and mountains. Similarly, Chure covers around 13% of Nepal’s landmass. Chure range has undergone unchecked degradation for decades for the extraction of mineral stones. Furthermore, the government legalized the extraction of pebbles and sand mines for export to minimize the trade deficit. Around 60% of the country’s total population is dependent on the environmental services provided by the range. The impact of these activities is already evident in the changing rainfall patterns, flooding, and landslides.

Around 5 million people live in the Chure region, and their livelihood is dependent on agriculture and community forestry. Similarly, Chure region is one of the major watersheds for terai region. A study conducted in the Kamala River basin indicated that Chure degradation has impacted people’s access to water, rainfall pattern, and groundwater availability. Various environmentalists have highlighted that the government’s move to legalize extraction of pebbles, stones, and sands from Chure will lead to the desertification of terai region.

Air Pollution

Photo: RSS

After recording the highest air quality index, Kathmandu has become the most polluted city in the world. Every year, air pollution gets record high during this time. Air pollution levels get dangerous to the extent that daily activities also get obstructed as indicated by the shutting down of schools last year. Farmers burning residue of the crops and forest fires are the two major causes of worsening air pollution.

The air pollution poses a significant threat, especially to the older population and people with respiratory ailments. Short term impacts of worsening air conditions are irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and shortness of breath. Similarly, long term impacts include impacts on immune defense, and respiratory infections including pneumonia. The Air Quality Management Action Plan approved by the Council of Ministers proposes environment friendly and sustainable transport system, air quality management decision support system, and frameworks for the emergency management of air pollution to mitigate the issue of air pollution in Kathmandu.

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