Nepal NAPA Case Study

					                               Nepal NAPA Case Study
                                    9-11 September 2003
                                      Thimphu, Bhutan

Geography—Nepal is located in South Asia, at 28° north latitude and 84° east longitude. It has
a very diverse environment, resulting from its impressive topography. Elevations of the country
vary from 100 m above sea level in the southern plain area to Mount Everest (8,840 m)
bordering China. Kathmandu, the capital city, is located in the center of the country. There are
approximately 23.6 million people, and the land occupies 147,181 square kilometers.

Socio-economic Profile—Nepal is the only Hindu monarchy in the world, with 86.5% of the
country practicing Hinduism. The remainder is made up of Buddhists (7.8%), Muslims (3.5%),
and others. 50.3% of the population speaks Nepali, and there are over three dozen other
languages spoken. Almost half of the population lives in the Terai Plains region, where the land
is more suitable for cultivation. Like many other Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Nepal’s
development process has commenced relatively recently and has faced challenges of
inadequate infrastructure in a highly rugged terrain, little exploitable natural resources, a
shortage of skilled labor, and a landlocked location.

Nepal’s GDP is US$5.5 billion, and per capita income is US$250. In 2001, GDP was
approximately $5.5 billion, with an annual average growth rate of 4.9%. The agriculture sector
employs most of the labor force at 82% in 2000. Despite engaging a majority of the population,
agriculture is primarily a subsistence activity and contributes only 38% to GDP, compared to
industry at 23%, and services at 39%.

1.1 National Development

1.1.1   Goals and Objectives
The National Development Council (NDC) oversees the process of producing 5-year
development plans for Nepal. In addition, the NDC also monitors progress and adjustments
following mid-term reviews. The current Tenth Development Plan sets poverty alleviation as its
overarching objective. Poverty is currently at 38% of the population in Nepal, and the Tenth Plan
seeks to reduce this to 30% in the period from 2002-2007. Nepal aims for a 10% improvement
in human development indicators and a 6.2% increase in the economy. The key social,
economic, and infrastructure objectives are summarized in the Table 1 below. Nepal’s strategy
for achieving these objectives are based on the “Four Pillars” of poverty reduction:
        1.      Broad-based economic growth
        2.      Social sector development, including human development
        3.      Targeted programs for underprivileged groups
        4.      Good governance

                             Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

Table 1: Summary of Nepal’s Development Objectives (Source: NPC, 2003)
                           Description                        Unit of          Status     Goal Of
                                                            measurement                  Tenth Plan1

Economic Goals
Annual economic growth rate                                       %             3.9         6.2
    Agricultural                                                  %             2.9         4.1
    Non-agriculture                                               %             4.6         7.3
National saving/domestic production ratio                         %             17.1        22.7
Total investment/domestic production ratio                        %             24.6        26.8
Fixed capital investment ratio                                    %             23.3        25.4

Social Goals
Infant Mortality Rate                                         Per 1,000         64.2        45
Total Fertility Rate                                              %              4.1        3.5
Maternal Mortality Rate                                      Per 100,000        400         300
Average Life Expectancy                                         Years           59.7        62
Net Enrollment in Primary level (above 6 years)                   %             80.4        90
Literacy (above 15 years)                                         %             53.7        70
Female Literacy (above 15 years)                                  %             42.5        65
Access to Drinking Water                                          %              71         85
Population Growth Rate                                            %             2.27        2.1
Population Below Poverty Line                                     %              38         30

Physical Infrastructure
Districts with access of roads                                    #              65          70
Irrigated Area                                                 ‘000 ha         1,139.6     1,417
Distribution of telephone                                     Per 1,000           14         40
VDC’s connected with computer networks                            #                        1,500
Access to electricity                                             %              20          30

Strategy—Development planners recognize that public participation in decision-making,
implementation, and monitoring is necessary for sustainable development. The programs have
a strong focus on rural development, since most poor Nepalis live in the rural, mountainous
areas. Also, with the vast majority of the population engaged in agriculture, the poverty
reduction strategy aims to improve agricultural production. Other important sectors include
tourism, irrigation, and infrastructure development. Improving access for basic needs such as
education, primary health, and clean water are priorities. The targeted programs will be
designed to enhance development for traditionally under-represented groups, including ethnic
minorities, women, and lower castes.

1.1.2      Present Status and Trends
Currently, 38% of the population of Nepal is considered to live below the poverty line, and
82.5% live on less than $2 per day. The divide between rural and urban poverty shows that 23%
of people in urban areas were poor in 1996, compared to 44% in rural areas. Furthermore, 90%
of poor people live in rural areas. More remote villages in the Mid-Western and Far-Western
Regions have higher poverty rates than the Central and Terai regions. Women, minority groups,
and lower castes also experience greater poverty. Table 2 shows the status of other indicators.

Since the Eighth Development Plan (1992-1996), there have been some accomplishments in
education, electricity coverage and generation, and healthcare. However, the security situation
in recent years has slowed progress, and in some cases, led to decreases in development. This

    At the end of the Plan period

                       Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

has been due to a number of factors, including damaged infrastructure, investment decreases,
and diversions in the development budget to security issues. His Majesty’s Government of
Nepal (HMG) budget estimates for FY2002-03 showed that the security situation is likely to
have a significant dampening effect on development for some time. The economy is
experiencing the lowest growth for a decade. The agriculture sector grew just 1.7%, down from
4.2% in 2001. Non-agriculture sectors grew only 0.2%, compared to 4.9%. Tourism arrivals, a
large source of foreign exchange, saw numbers decline by over 44% due to security concerns.

An overall analysis of trends in human development by the National Planning Commission
shows that from 1976 and 1996 there was no significant decline in poverty across Nepal as a
whole. From 1991-1996, there was some improvement in rural areas. However, with the growth
in population, there has in fact been an increase in the absolute numbers of people living in
poverty, from approximately 5.7 million to 9.2 million. The distribution of income has become
more unequal in the past twenty years.

1.1.3   Synergies and Policies
Nepal’s policy documents give little mention to climate change itself. However, sustainable
development as a concept is often implicit in the country’s planning. Nepal has ratified the three
Rio Conventions, and a draft of the national communication for the UNFCCC is scheduled for
submission at COP-9 later this year. Many of the policies and measures to support sustainable
development would contribute to adaptation for climate change. Synergies between climate
change and other environmental issues are briefly noted below2:
    •   UNCCD—Nepal’s most recent national report was prepared for the UNCCD COP-4 in
        2000. The report mentions that measures to address impacts of desertification, land
        degradation, and climate change should be integrated. Many of the responses to
        desertification, such as integrated watershed management and community-based soil
        and water management, would also enhance Nepal’s resilience to disasters and
        adaptive capacity to climate change.
    •   CBD—The country’s Biodiversity Strategy (2002) was prepared under the UNDP/GEF
        Biodiversity Conservation Project. It lists several climate-related risks, such as flooding
        and sedimentation, as threats to biodiversity. Future climate change may increase these
        risks with more severe or more frequent flooding. A draft NAPA document notes that
        temperature and rainfall changes will affect the ecology of the mountain region, thereby
        greatly impacting the socio-economic activity of people living there.
    •   WSSD—The Country Profile discusses climate change in the context of mitigation of
        greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation to climate change is not specifically addressed,
        although the indigenous systems of living in, and adapting to, challenging circumstances
        in mountainous areas are recognized.
    •   SDAN—The SDAN lists Nepal’s continuing vulnerability to climate change, natural
        disasters and environmental degradation as constraints to sustainable development. A
        separate section on climate change lists the potentially serious consequences for
        infrastructure, agriculture, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and biodiversity.

1.1.4   Barriers Regarding Climate Change and Extreme Events
One of the most urgent problems Nepal faces is the lack of technical, human resource, and
financial capacities. This affects Nepal’s ability to formulate and implement programs for
achieving sustainable development. It also creates disadvantages at the international

 OECD, 2003. “Development and Climate Change Project: Case Study of Nepal”, Environment Directorate and
Development Cooperation Directorate.

                         Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

negotiation level. Regarding information and data, the draft national communication states, “Like
most developing countries, Nepal lacks an immaculate data collection and management
system. As such, a vast array of data is necessary to operate [models].” With the numerous
micro-environments in mountainous areas, it is difficult to project the changes that will occur in
the coming decades. There are also few studies to assess the likely impacts on key sectors.

Nepal has experienced several barriers in implementing policies related to climate change and
extreme events. These include the lack of attention at the national policy level and low public
awareness. The Tenth Plan reviews some of the general barriers to effective policy and
program implementation Nepal has experienced:
      •    Security issues                       •   Insufficient decentralization
      •    Poor planning and management          •   Poor monitoring and evaluation
      •    Corruption

Finally, there are physical and environmental barriers for Nepal to overcome. For example, as
the population quickly expands at 2.24% per year, the agrarian resource base is diminishing.
Across the country, over half of all households rely on less than 0.5 hectares of land to support
their families—with an average size of six persons per family. Added to the uncertainties of the
weather, this leaves many people in a situation of precarious food security. Natural disasters
such as floods, drought, landslides, and earthquakes can completely disrupt existing
development efforts. Climate change in the future may bring more frequent or intense disasters,
further eroding the resilience of communities.

1.2       Framing Climate Change

1.2.1      Current Climate
Nepal’s climate varies from arctic to tropical within the 200 km span from the northern to
southern borders. Much of Nepal falls within the monsoon region, and the altitude of a particular
region accounts for different climatic regimes. There are four seasons, as defined below:
      •    Spring (Mar-May)—The weather is dry and hot, with occasional rain showers.
      •    Summer Monsoon (Jun-Sep)—Very hot, with 80% of annual rainfall.
      •    Autumn (Oct-Nov)—This short season is warm and humid.
      •    Winter (Dec-Feb)—The climate begins turning cool and dry, and finally cold.

National mean temperatures hover around 15oC, and averages increase from north to south
with exceptions in the mountain valleys. Average rainfall for the country is 1,500mm, and it
increases when moving from the western to eastern part of the country. The northwest corner
has the least rainfall, situated as it is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. Rainfall also varies by
altitude; areas over 3,000m experience a lot of drizzle, while below 2,000m, heavy downpours
occur. Nepal receives abundant rainfall, but the distribution throughout the year is of great
concern regarding the occurrence of floods, landslides, and other extreme events. Most floods
occur during the monsoon season when heavy precipitation coincides with snowmelt in the
mountains. Several major rivers, including the Koshi, Gandaki, Karnali, Mahakali, and the
Mechi, flow mostly from north to south and run into the major rivers of the Indian Subcontinent.
There are about 6,000 rivers and rivulets, which total some 45,000 km.

1.2.2      Expected Changes
Temperature—The US Country Study of Nepal (USCSP, 1997) used records from 22 stations
from the 1971-1990. The results for temperature changes with a doubling of CO2 are

                          Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

summarized in Table 2 below. The temperature differences are most pronounced during the dry
winter season, and least during the height of the monsoon. Regarding spatial variation,
temperatures will increase faster at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes. The study reported,
“Jumla with elevation of 2300 m shows the highest value of temperature change whereas the
station over the southern plain region like Biratnagar, Janakpur with the altitude of around 80 m
shows the lowest value of temperature change.” This indicates that, in general, greater warming
may be expected in the northern mountainous parts of the country.

Table 2: Projected Temperature Change in Nepal (OC) (Source: USCSP, 1997)
                 Jan     Feb       Mar      Apr       May       Jun       Jul    Aug    Sep       Oct      Nov     Dec
Observed         11.9    13.7      18.0     22.0      23.8      25.0      24.6   24.7   23.5      20.9     16.9    13.2
Projected        15.8    17.3      20.9     25.1      26.9      28.6      26.2   26.4   26.6      24.6     20.3    15.8
% Change         32.4    25.9      16.1     13.9      12.8      14.2      6.3    6.9    13.0      17.7     20.1    19.3

Precipitation—The annual average precipitation in Nepal is 1,907 mm, with 80% of it falling
during the monsoon season from June to September. Studies project that annual precipitation
will increase significantly if CO2 doubles; it will likely become drier during the dry season, with a
significantly wetter monsoon season (as much as three times the current rainfall). It should be
noted that the level of certainty for precipitation projections is less than for temperature. The
distribution of rainfall throughout the year is a reliable factor in determining the risk of floods.
This pattern of precipitation would likely cause droughts during the winter months and floods
during the monsoon. Table 3 below shows the average results over Nepal.

Table 3: Projected Precipitation Change in Nepal (mm) (Source: USCSP, 1997)
               Total    Jan       Feb     Mar      Apr    May       Jun      Jul    Aug    Sep      Oct     Nov    Dec
Observed       1,907      18        24      32      58    135        299      528   407    297        83     10     16
Projected      3,784      20        27     34       60    174      1,091    1,071    635    515      131      10    17
%Change         98.4    11.1      12.5     4.7      3.4   28.5     264.9    102.8   56.0   73.4     57.8     0.0    3.1

A review of 17 GCMs that was recently conducted by OECD shows less drastic changes in both
temperature and rainfall.

Table 4: GCM estimates of temperature and precipitation changes (Source: OECD, 2003)
                             Temperature change (°C)                               Precipitation change (%)
                               mean (std. deviation)                                 mean (std. deviation)
Year                      Annual      DJF3           JJA4                    Annual          DJF           JJA
Baseline average                                                            1,433 mm       73 mm         894 mm
2030                     1.2 (0.27)       1.3 (0.40)         1.1 (0.20)     5.0 (3.85)    0.8 (9.95)    9.1 (7.11)
2050                     1.7 (0.39)       1.8 (0.58)         1.6 (0.29)     7.3 (5.56)   1.2 (14.37)   13.1 (10.28)
2100                     3.0 (0.67)       3.2 (1.00)         2.9 (0.51)     12.6 (9.67) 2.1 (25.02)    22.9 (17.89)

2.1 Methodology

2.1.1 Using IPCC/UNDP Methodology

    December, January, February
    June, July, August

                      Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

Few vulnerability assessments have been conducted in Nepal to date. Of the existing
assessments, they were primarily conducted using a research, data-driven methodology. Most
of the studies have been led by the DHM, with active participation by officials in climate-related
sectors, notably the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Irrigation. Tribhuvan
University researchers have also participated in assessments. The UCSCP study on water
resources used the WATBAL model and was tested in the Koshi River Basin. Changes in
climate were combined with total water availability and demand. A study for the agriculture
sector used crop simulation models to assess future yields and food security. Another study by
OECD has synthesized previous research on climate change and affected sectors then used a
ranking system to identify vulnerable sectors. The criteria included factors such as the
significance, timing (or urgency), and the certainty of the climate change impact.

2.1.2 Participatory Process
As noted earlier, Nepal’s government is now striving for greater public participation in planning
and development. NAPA documents have explicitly stated the importance of involving civil
society and a broad range of stakeholders in implementing climate change programs. One
avenue that could be further explored is to link with disaster management programs. Many of
those addressing climate-related hazards, for example to reduce vulnerability to floods, have a
strong local presence through community-based disaster management initiatives. Past activities
have included hazard mapping and identifying vulnerability indicators with the community.

2.2 Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerabilities on Various Sectors/Regions

Nepal’s low level of development and complex topography leaves it quite vulnerable to climate
change. The studies mentioned above identify the following vulnerable sectors:

   •   Water resources—The changes in temperature and precipitation will alter the
       hydrological cycle and water resources. The total water reserve capacity is 200 billion
       m3, and runoff provides 72% of water reserve (144 billion m3) while snow provides 12%
       (24 billion m3). The monthly variability of runoff is quite high, for example, with the Sapta
       Koshi varying from 400 m3/sec in February to 4300 m3/sec in August. Mean monthly
       discharges show that global warming would shift the peak discharge month from August
       to July, due to the fact that the snow cover on mountaintops would melt earlier. This
       could lead to increased flooding and more pronounced variations in water availability
       throughout the year. In some areas, drought could become a problem.

   •   Agriculture—This sector is highly dependent on the weather, and given the low
       productivity increases of the last few years compared to population growth, climate
       change is likely to have serious consequences for Nepal’s agriculture. Most of the
       population is directly dependent on a few crops, such as rice, maize, and wheat.
       Decreased precipitation from November to April would impact the winter and spring
       crops. Rice yields would fall in the Western and Far Western Regions where a greater
       population of the poor live, threatening food security.

   •   Forestry and Biodiversity—The draft national communication notes that vegetation
       patterns would be altered by changes in temperature and precipitation, which in turn
       would affect biodiversity in forests. Nepal has a striking variety of species, including 60
       that are currently endangered. One study has found that 2.4% of biodiversity may be lost
       with climate change.

   •   Health—A direct impact on health would result from increased disasters, particularly
       from floods related to glacier melt. Diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis
       may also move to new regions, or the area where they thrive may expand in the future.

                      Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

       The current lack of primary healthcare for large portions of the population also
       contributes to their vulnerability in this sector to future climate change.

2.3 Rationale for Sector Choice

Climate change impacts in agriculture, forestry/biodiversity, and health would have serious
consequences for Nepal and people’s livelihoods. This case study, however, will concentrate on
changes in water resources because the linkages with climate change are clearest in that sector
and the impacts are most urgent. For example, the links between climate change, agricultural
yields, and food security are less clear. This is due to the crop productivity improvements that
may be gained through non-climate factors, such as enhancing agriculture extension services,
and technology. Similarly, the influence of climate change on health is not well defined. Forestry
and biodiversity will certainly be strongly affected by climate change, but there is currently a lack
of information on these impacts. Most of the analyses looking at forestry have concentrated on
the mitigation possibilities of carbon sequestration. Finally, freshwater resources are a common
concern among the other LDCs with mountainous regions. Countries such as Bhutan and Lao
PDR also suffer from flooding, generate a high proportion of electricity through hydropower, and
face similar development challenges for meeting water demands.

2.4 Sector Impacts Linked to Livelihoods

Climate change impacts on water resources will affect Nepal through a number of pathways,
including disasters, hydropower, irrigation, and domestic water usage. These changes, in turn,
could place additional burdens on the livelihoods of communities in highland regions.

Disasters—The IPCC has stated there is a high measure of confidence that in the coming
decades many glaciers will retreat and smaller glaciers may disappear altogether. The most
pressing risk for Nepal stems from the potential increase of climate-related disasters,
particularly of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). It is especially vulnerable to GLOFs in the
future because of the numerous glacial lakes located along the Himalayas. A UNEP/ICIMOD
study was completed in 2001 to inventory glaciers and glacial lakes in Nepal and Bhutan. It
found over 3,252 glaciers, 2,323 glacial lakes, and 20 potential GLOF sites in Nepal (UNEP,
2002). Analysis of records of glacier fluctuations in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region over the
past 150 years shows that, while examples exist of both advance and retreat, the glaciers have
mostly been retreating (Chalise, 1992). GLOFs have been described as a “catastrophic
discharge of large volumes of water [resulting] from the collapse of unstable natural dams
formed when stream channels are blocked by rockfall, landslide, debris flow, or ice and snow
avalanches. Another cause is the outburst of lakes dammed by glacier ice or by glacier
moraines…Depending upon the availability of loose material, the outbursts may be flood surges
with a high sediment load, or actual debris flows.”

Geoscientists have noted that, with glaciers retreating due to global warming, the number and
volume of GLOF hazards is growing. Some of these floods have produced discharge rates of up
to 30,000 m3/sec and can run for distances of 200 km (Richardson and Reynolds, 2000). In the
past, these disasters have caused enormous destruction. The most significant GLOF event in
terms of recorded damages occurred in 1985. This GLOF caused a 10 to 15 meter high surge of
water and debris to flood down the Bhote Koshi and Dudh Koshi Rivers for 90 kilometers. At its
peak, 2,000 m3/sec discharged, two to four times the magnitude of maximum monsoon flood
levels. It destroyed the Namche Small Hydel Project, which was almost completed at the time
and cost approximately NPR 45 million. With limited opportunities for safe and sustainable
livelihoods in the mountains, population densities are growing within the river valleys where
vulnerability to GLOFs increases. Population growth means there are now more people

                        Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

exposed to GLOFs and other climate-related disasters, and this is compounded by the
expansion of infrastructure and settlements into vulnerable areas.

From 1954 to 2002, floods have affected over a million people in Nepal. As shown in the table
below, floods killed 5,003 people (24% of deaths from all disasters), left almost 70,000
homeless (45%), and caused damages amounting to US$990,613 (75%)5. Floods, and other
climate-related disasters such as drought, extreme temperatures, and windstorms, may occur
with greater frequency or intensity in the future. Heavy rains often trigger devastating landslides,
which are another huge concern for Nepal. Disasters severely disrupt livelihoods and
community development, whether they are flashfloods or slower onset events, such as drought.
In fact, droughts can affect a greater number of people, and often the event does not bring
assistance until it is very late. By that point, many families may have sold off their productive
assets, and they are left in a precarious state.

Table 5: Climate-related Disasters in Nepal (1954-2002) (Source: CRED, 2003)
                                    Killed         Injured        Homeless        Affected       Damages
All Disasters                            20,927           7,794       153,550      7,053,754       1,316,413
Floods                                    5,003             725        69,350      1,531,125         990,613
Drought                                       0               0             0      4,400,000          10,000
Extreme Temperatures                         60             210                          210
Windstorms                                   97              19              0           184           3600
Climate-related                           5,160             954         69,350     5,931,519       1,004,213
   - As a % of all disasters             24.7%           12.2%          45.2%         84.1%           76.3%

Hydropower—Energy in Nepal, particularly electricity, is in urgent need of development for rural
household use, small village works, and industrial growth. Traditional fuels such as fuelwood
and biomass dominate the energy sector in Nepal, accounting for as much as 88% of total
demand. Commercial businesses and industry cannot rely on these sources for operations. It is
interesting to note that the industrial sector meets almost 40% of its energy demand through
coal, which is entirely imported. As of now, electricity reaches only 15% of the population,
primarily in urban areas or on a very small scale in rural areas through micro- and small
hydropower. Furthermore, the current electricity supply can meet only one percent of the total
demand. The National Electricity Authority projects that demand will increase four times in the
next 14 years to 5,937 GWh.

The link between economic development and energy use is closely correlated. It has been
noted that not only does energy use increase, but also the share of electricity and other
commercially produced energy increases with economic development. Developing countries
rely heavily on traditional fuels that are more easily available in rural areas. Nepal’s extensive
use of firewood has contributed to an alarming rate of deforestation, which increases soil
erosion and flooding. A 2001 UNDP study found that the introduction of micro-hydropower into
rural areas produced several benefits, such as time and effort saved on collecting fuelwood and
medicines for smoke-related diseases, and children’s performances in school improved due to
improved lighting.

Hydropower potential in Nepal is a staggering 83,000 MW. The range of economically feasible
projects is estimated from 25,000 to 42,000 MW. Given the unsustainability of using fuelwood
and its health implications, hydropower is the government’s preferred energy source. Up to now,
the country has installed only 527.7 MW of its hydropower capacity and 56.8 MW of thermal

   Based on data available from the Centre for Research on Epidemiological Disasters (CRED), Belgium These numbers are based on national reports and may not include small and medium disasters,
which are often not recorded.

                      Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

power. Climate plays a large role in determining the feasibility of hydropower projects, and the
potential change in precipitation and temperature is likely to affect runoff. This in turn affects the
potential electricity generation and the benefits of establishing or continuing to operate a
hydropower plant. Extreme events such as GLOFs have the largest potential affect on plants, as
the force of a GLOF is so great that an entire plant can be wiped out in a very short period.
These climate concerns span a variety of time scales, ranging from seasonal to interannual
variability. The key impacts of climate change on the hydropower sector include:
    • Increased GLOF hazards
    • Increased variability of river runoff (increased during monsoon season, decreased during
        dry season)
    • Increased sediments
    • Increased evaporation from reservoirs
    • Impacts on watershed
In addition to GLOFs, the greatest impact on hydropower will be the increased variability of river
runoff. Two factors will contribute to this: 1) glacier melt, and 2) precipitation patterns.
Hydrologists in Nepal agree that runoff will initially increase as glaciers melt, then later decrease
as deglaciation progresses (A.B. Shrestha, 2003). In addition, decreased winter snowfall means
less precipitation would be stored on the glaciers, so this would in turn decrease the spring and
summer runoff. Winter runoff, on the other hand, would increase due to earlier snowmelt and a
greater proportion of precipitation falling as rain. This interannual variability would affect the
operating efficiency of plants. For example, a study on the dependability of flow throughout the
year in the Bagmati River shows a long-term average of 21.1 m3/sec 92.3% of the time. Under
the scenario of doubled CO2, however, it will be only 7.43 m3/sec. The current range of the
Bagmati is 316.26 m3/sec, which is projected to increase to 810.37 m3/sec.

This poses considerably more complexity for hydropower planners and engineers in maintaining
electricity generation throughout the year. It will require additional considerations in plant design
to accommodate the greater range of runoff, in addition to the likely increase in sediment loads.
Landslides and debris flows are highly dependent on precipitation levels. Shakya (2003) points
out that approximately 20% of rainfall transports 90% of debris volume in Nepal. With the
intense rainfall projected for the monsoon season, sedimentation is another factor that may
shorten the operating life of a hydropower plant.

Irrigation and Domestic Water Usage—With the dependence on agriculture, over 80% of all
water in Nepal is used for irrigation. In fact, almost 38% of agricultural land (mostly in the Terai
Plans) is irrigated, highlighting the importance of integrated water resource management to
sustain livelihoods. Nepal’s 6,000 rivers feed irrigation systems, power grain mills, and supply
drinking water for villages for thousands of miles downstream.

Higher temperatures, increased evapotranspiration and decreased winter precipitation may
bring about more droughts in Nepal. In addition, as discussed above on hydropower, many
rivers may face highly variable flows with climate change. Studies in Southwest Asia show that
decreased winter snowfall on glaciers does indeed decrease the spring/summer runoff. This has
already caused severe droughts in Iran and Pakistan in areas that depend on water from
mountain sources (Subbiah, 2001). Increased variability would severely impact irrigation and the
farming livelihoods dependent on it. The land that can be cultivated varies by location and
season, since the vast majority of surface water irrigation systems in Nepal depend on the water
flowing at its source (USCSP, 1997). In some cases, the winter cropping area is only 20% of the
cultivable area during the summer.

                        Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

Like many other developing countries, urban centers are also expanding quickly. Over 10% of
the population is now in urban areas, and this is growing by about 5% per year. In 2000,
Kathmandu experienced a water stress of approximately 60 million m3 and a water scarcity of 40
million m3. Ensuring adequate water resources for all of the country’s various uses will become
an increasingly urgent issue, especially with the added impacts of climate change. According to
the 25-Year Water Plan, Nepal aims to increase hydropower to 22,000 MW, expand irrigation to
90% of irrigable lands, and increase access for domestic water supplies to 100% of the
population (Sharma, 2003). Current water availability is 215 km3, but this is only 26 km3 during
the low flow season. The amount of water needed to achieve the goals of the 25-Year Water
Plan is 60 km3 for hydropower and 28 km3 for other uses.

With the three main pathways of vulnerability to climate change in the water resource sector,
there are numerous adaptation options. Each of the options would have varying degrees of
effectiveness in securing Nepalis’ livelihoods, and of course, varying costs associated with
them. This section identifies possible adaptation measures and indications of costs, where

3.1 Soft Measures

Many of the soft adaptation measures would help to reduce vulnerability, and they would
provide benefits regardless of whether climate change occurs.6
    •   Improve observation and forecasting—The remote access to many areas leaves the
        climatological record sparse, especially above 2,500 m. There are often gaps in the data
        for the stations that do exist. DHM oversees 263 meteorological stations and 47
        hydrological stations in Nepal. Accurate information is needed for better forecasting,
        which can then be incorporated into early warning systems.
    •   Develop early warning systems—In conjunction with an engineering project from 1998-
        2002 to reduce the risk of a GLOF occurring on Tsho Rolpa, an early warning system
        was simultaneously established in 19 villages downstream of the Rolwaling Khola on
        the. Local villagers have been actively involved in the design of this system, and drills
        are carried out periodically.
    •   Map hazards and vulnerabilities—A joint project between UNEP and ICIMOD produced
        an inventory of glacial hazards in Nepal and Bhutan. A UK project to conduct a
        vulnerability assessment of glacial hazards has been postponed. For both hazards and
        vulnerability, continuous monitoring is needed to keep maps updated.
    •   Increase community awareness and participation—Incorporating practices from
        traditional water and natural resource management can raise the chances of successful
        climate change adaptation. Existing programs to promote community based disaster
        management stress the importance of creating ownership, making effective use of
        village events, and involving key stakeholders. This measure also enhances the
        community’s capacity to manage and implement general development programs.
    •   Promote afforestation and conservation—From 1979-1998, forested area decreased by
        one third. Planting protective forests can increase water availability in dry season,

 These options were compiled from water resource sector assessments (notably the USCSP), Nepal’s draft national
communication, various studies, and workshop reports.

                      Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

       reduce landslides and erosion, and enhance biodiversity. It will also help to sustain the
       natural resource base, which attracts tourists to the country.
   •   Promote water conservation and market-based water allocation—These measures
       would increase the efficiency of water allocations and allow for more rapid and flexible
       responses in the future.
   •   Increase irrigation efficiency—Using sprinklers would increase efficiency by 50% over
       surface irrigation, although it involves greater capital investments and is not suitable for
       paddy cropping. Installing drip networks to supply water directly to roots is another
       measure, but is feasible only for extremely dry conditions due to the high costs. The
       increased efficiency can help to expand the irrigated area.

3.2 Hard Measures

The hard adaptation measures include engineering projects to reduce vulnerability, particularly
to floods and drought. These are typically more expensive measures that address a specific
problem, but they can also produce multiple uses and benefits. Hard measures include:
   •   Mitigate GLOF risks—Experts recommend several methods, including draining by
       siphon or pump, cutting a drainage channel for periodic water release, and building flood
       control measures downstream to mitigate the effects of a flood (Rana et al, 2000). These
       all have their disadvantages. Pumping is expensive—because of the remote location,
       everything must be flown up to the site. Flood control measures are less desirable
       because Nepal’s topography makes the flood behave unpredictably as it moves
       downstream, and in effect, it is treating the symptoms rather than the cause. With the
       support of The Netherlands, HMG began a project to drain down the Tsho Rolpa glacial
       lake by three meters, which reduced the risk of a GLOF by 20%. A channel was cut into
       the moraine, and a gate was constructed to allow water to be released as necessary.
       The four-year project cost US$ 3.2 million.
       Certain GLOF mitigation measures can provide additional benefits, such as for micro-
       hydropower and for export (major hydroelectric power generation facilities). (Reynolds
       and Richardson, 1999) Siphoned water could also be used to supplement dry season
       flows, maintain adequate water levels in downstream ecosystems to protect valuable fish
       stocks, and supply water for local usage. However, the long-term economic feasibility of
       multi-benefit schemes requires further study.
   •   Expand irrigation and storage—The Tenth Plan aims to develop necessary
       infrastructures in order to provide facilities in irrigable land in all seasons by utilizing the
       country's existing water resources. The total budget allocated for irrigation is US$ 307.8
       million over five years. Detailed information on prioritized projects and estimated costs
       are available in the Tenth Plan.
   •   Include reservoir hydropower for electricity development—One advantage of large
       hydropower is that reservoirs can provide dependable flows for electricity generation,
       supplement water supplies for domestic and agriculture uses during the dry season, and
       if properly designed, play a role in flood management. These possible benefits must be
       carefully weighed any against environmental impacts and the enhanced GLOF risks.

3.3 Institutional Issues

The Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE) is the focal point for the UNFCCC, and the
further details of the roles of other institutions are reviewed below in the section on the NAPA
Process. A few cross-cutting capacity building needs for adaptation options include:

                      Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

   •   Lack of information and data—Research is often cited regarding climate change and
       sustainable development issues.
   •   Lack of public awareness—Addressing this may be the most effective way to reduce
       vulnerability to climate change and increase the effectiveness of adaptation options.
   •   Need for inter-departmental coordination—Building rural infrastructure, developing high
       valley agriculture, and building hydropower plants calls for better coordination among
       departments. Dialogue should also be maintained with community-based organizations
       working on rural development and sustainable livelihoods.
   •   Need for regional collaboration—GLOFs often originate outside of Nepal, such as the
       1981 event that closed the highway to Tibet for over a year. The solutions to tackling
       these problems will often require regional cooperation and information sharing about
       watersheds. Comprehensive river basin or lake/reservoir management to address both
       climate change and future growth are needed.
   •   Need for international partnerships, capacity building, and assistance—International
       assistance will be required not only for funding, but also in terms of technical expertise
       and human resource development.

4.1 Preparation Process

Nepal is formulating its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) with participation from a
multi-disciplinary team, coordinated by MOPE. The document regarding the process for the
NAPA preparation is in the endorsement pipeline by MOPE officials. Development of the actual
NAPA will begin shortly. Two committees will oversee technical and administrative issues, while
National Study Teams (NSTs) will carry out sector-related work. Reports will be regularly
circulated to relevant institutions, and public consultations will be held to gather input from key
   •   Steering Committee (SC)—The SC will “provide policy-related oversight for the
       implementation of the project…and ensure the effective participation of relevant sectors
       of government and the societies.” The Environment Division Chief of MOPE will chair the
       committee as secretary. The SC will include senior members of national institutions
       responsible for environmental policy.
   •   Executive Committee (EC)—The EC, also chaired by the Environment Division Chief of
       MOPE, will “serve as the technical body for the project and will be composed of leaders
       of the NSTs and other relevant technical experts from various ministries, private and
       public sector organizations, universities and research institutions.” The EC will assist in
       day-to-day management, provide technical advice, and review progress.
   •   National Study Teams (NST)—The multi-disciplinary nature of the study areas requires
       teams composed of experts from a variety of government agencies, research
       institutions, and NGOs.

4.2 Institutions Involved

MOPE was established in 1995, and it is responsible for environmental protection and
management in Nepal. The Environment Protection Council (EPC) includes high-level
representation from other major ministries, scientific institutes and academia, and the private

                       Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

sector. MOPE is also the focal point for the UNFCCC, coordinating climate change activities
with the following ministries:
•   Ministry of Water Resources                     •   National Planning Commission
•   Ministry of Science and Technology              •   Alternative Energy Promotion Center
•   Ministry of Finance                             •   Department of Hydrology and Meteorology
•   Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation        •   Ministry of Industry
•   Water and Energy Commission Secretariat         •   NGOs, industrial associations, etc.

4.3 Priority Sectors

Nepal is closely linking climate change adaptation to poverty alleviation, in addition to
maximizing synergies with other environmental concerns such as land degradation, biodiversity,
and disaster reduction. The draft national communication has identified the following four priority
   1. Forestry
   2. Crops
   3. Water resources
   4. Health

4.4 Capacity Needs

The NAPA process document identified the following capacity needs:
    •   Expertise to translate provisions of conventions into concrete national activities, policies,
        and laws
    •   Skills in taxonomy, climate science, environmental economics and environmental law
    •   Negotiating skills for environmental agreements
    •   Awareness among the general public, policymakers, and media regarding UNFCCC and
        climate change implications for Nepal

Determining climate change impacts on Nepal’s unique mountain systems will be a continuous
endeavor in the coming decades. However, temperature trends showing greater warming at
higher altitudes, coupled with increased precipitation variability, will surely impact glaciers and
runoff significantly. Nepal’s vulnerability to climate change is clearly tied to its water resource
management over the next several decades. Water resources are linked to livelihoods and
development through hydropower, irrigation, health, and disasters. The government’s focus on
hydropower may well increase this vulnerability in some ways, due to the strong influence of
increasingly variable climate factors. Nevertheless, drawing the rural communities away from
the high rate of burning fuelwood will ease the more immediate hazards caused by
deforestation, such as flooding and landslides. Aside from increase safety, there would be other
health benefits including a reduction in smoke-related illnesses and eyestrain. Promoting
electrification in rural areas may also spur non-agriculture livelihoods, which will help to diversify
economic activity.

                     Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

Nepal is now moving towards integrating climate change and other environmental concerns with
development planning. As relatively little of Nepal’s water resource potential has been
harnessed, there is a great opportunity to incorporate climate information into future
developments. This would help create more flexibility in programs and infrastructure designs to
enhance the adaptive capacity of communities. At this point, the prioritization of various
measures is at an early stage. It is likely that several of the options would be implemented in
tandem. The range of options for the national adaptation program will be expanded and defined
through further discussion between stakeholders, and a clearer understanding of costs and
benefits. Implementation of the NAPA also depends on the approach of the institutions involved,
and their local capacity.

                    Nepal Case Study—NAPA Workshop—Bhutan, September 2003

ANNEX:    Data and information for exercises and MCA, developed in consultation with Lead

   NAPA Topic                                    Lead Expert(s)
   Vulnerability                                 Paul Desanker/Tom Downing/Mizan Khan
   Stakeholders                                  Annie Roncerel/Mozaharul Alam
   Multi-criteria screening/Economic aspects     Klaus Broersma/IVM/Mizan Khan
   Project development                           Olav Lundstrol/Philip Baker


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