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Feature: Nepal feels heat of climate change
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20:05, September 28, 2009

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The golden apples it once produced were famed in Nepal and across the border area in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China for their luscious taste.

But now, the northern district of Mustang, some 195 km west of Nepali capital Kathmandu, lying in the lap of the Himalayan ranges, is feeling the heat of global warming and the ensuing climate change.

This is the finding of a team of 14 members of Nepali parliament affiliated to the Parliamentary Action Team on Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (PAECD) who participated in a climate change impact study visit in Mustang from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23.

"We visited Muktinath, Kagbeni, Jomsom, Marpha, Tukche and Kobang areas of Mustang District," parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant told Xinhua reporter on Monday after returning to Kathmandu and issuing a statement on their findings.

"We have directly witnessed the multiple impacts of climate change in the mountains and our direct interaction with the locals helped us to understand the issues and problems faced by them," he said.

Around September, the inhabitants of Upper Mustang, where the maximum temperature used to be about nine degrees Celsius, would start getting ready to migrate to the lower altitudes with their livestock.

However, this time it is so hot that there is no such preparation so far.

"We were shocked to see a growing number of flies and mosquitoes," said Pant, "The unusually warm weather is also causing diarrhea and spreading crop diseases."

In several places, farmers have cut down the apple orchards since the fruit they produced were invested with larva. Now, they are trying to grow vegetables and corn -- crops usually associated with lower altitudes and warm temperatures.

Winter snowfall, once a regular feature, has now become a rare event, leading to the decline of snow deposits, and exposing the black rocks of high mountains where permanent snow cover used to be a key feature.

The warmer and dry winter and high temperatures have devastated apple farms in lower Mustang whereas unusual and torrential rain has weakened the clay roofed houses, built in the past to withstand just snow.

To the worry of the local people, water sources are drying up and livestock, particularly goats, are dying in large numbers due to diseases linked to unusually dry and warmer weather.

Wild fires have started breaking out, causing deforestation and degradation.

"It is clear that climate change has already been felt in the mountains and plains in Nepal," the team said in a press statement," Urgent action is needed to adapt to the new situations."

Besides urging the Nepali government to formulate effective policies and plans to tackle the climate change, the team is also urging the international communities, especially rich and industrialized countries, to help cope with the change and support sustainable development.

The MPs said they will raise the issue of climate change and its impacts in parliament, public forums, government policy processes and the media.

"Climate change concerns should be reflected in constitutional policy dialogues," the statement said.


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