Almost all the families of Puranogaun village in the mid-hills of Nepal have migrated due to climate-induced water scarcity. The fact that water woes continue to haunt them after migration is an indication of the climate vagaries and water problems that paradisaical Nepal faces now and of what the future portends.
In the last six years, out of the 24 households in Puranogaun village, 18 have migrated, three are about to migrate and the remaining three have no choice but to adapt to the severe drought. Puranogaun, a village in the mid-hill of Khotang district of Nepal, lies in the Koshi River basin.
Millions of people live on mountain slopes due to their refreshing ambience. The weather is pleasant, the air is clean, the water is pure, there is sufficient sunshine, and there is lower incidence of disease. More than 10 million people rely on springs as their primary source of water in the hills and mountains of Nepal.
It had been the same for residents of Puranogaun village too, till they started facing scarcity of water due to change in rainfall pattern induced by climate change. According to a research publication by a scientist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), increase in maximum temperature in Koshi River basin is 2.3 degree C in the last 40 years.
As per the National Climate Change Impact Survey of 2016 that the National Planning Commission of Nepal conducted, 99.33 percent of households across the mid-hills of Nepal have observed an increase in drought in the past 25 years. The mid-hills of Nepal have started to lose their paradisaical quality due to drought induced by climate change, and have witnessed a lot of migration in the last decade.
Increasing impact of climate change
The residents of Puranogaun village, who lead an extremely simple life and hence are carbon negative, are among the migrants forced to leave their paradise.
On 18 January, 2019, six families migrated from Puranogaun to Regmitar, which is at the foot of the hill. The families spent USD 10,000 to 20,000 to build a new house in Regmitar. Regmitar is in the flood plain of Sapsup River. There is no piped drinking water facility in Regmitar.
The migrated families rely on the Sapsup River for drinking water. During the summer flood the families have to drink polluted water from the river. The irony is that the water problem that caused the families to migrate, continues to daunt them even after migration. And it is an indication of future water position for the mountain nation as it experiences increasing impact of climate change.