Evidences of climate change impact are already visible in vegetation, hydrology, and rising temperature affecting normal plant productivity and ecosystem services in Nepal. Indigenous people whose livelihood is based on the state of natural resources are hard hit when such changes occur. Since the livelihood of the indigenous people is less diverse than that of migrant settlers, it is important to understand the level of climate impact on livelihoods of the indigenous community, without which it will be difficult to plan support program in order to enhance their resilience towards the impact of climate change.
This study was conducted to document the vulnerability of indigenous Tharu community to the emerging climate change in the Darakh VDC of Kailali district of the Far-western region of Nepal, and recommend adaptation measures. The study VDC lies in Western Terai Landscape Complex Project Area working district and the findings of the study are expected to contribute to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity that form the basis of livelihood of indigenous local communities.
The study analyzed temperature and precipitation records of last 3 decades (1980-2009), and peoples' perception of the observed variation in climate that has affected ecosystem services. The study attempted to document the most effective measures adopted by local community to natural hazards such as flood disasters. The study revealed that overall temperature in the area is rising, but precipitation is decreasing. The temperature increase is in parity with the observed temperature trends in Nepal, however, the precipitation trend show high fluctuation with increased rainfall intensities and decreased rainy days. Heavy rainfall events have become pronounced since last 5 years. Tharu communities have experienced increasing floods, inundation and drought in recent years. Floods have increased disaster risks in the study area. There is no significant evidence to suggest adaptive responses adopted by Tharus and therefore they need to work on to enhance their resilience so that they can withstand the threats of floods which is likely to increase with emerging climate change. The study also examined other impacts such as increase in insects and pests, and change in time of crop harvest etc.The study concluded that the extreme weather events have increased the vulnerability of agriculture based livelihoods of Tharu communities that warrants immediate attention to enable them to adapt to the emerging threat. Recommendations have been made to enhance their adaptive capacity of local Tharu communities.