Women Involvement in Climate Change Adaptation Techniques in Terai
In Nepal, 1061 CFUGs are led by women and in Sarlahi district, 7 CFUGs are led by women (MoFSC 2017). Bishnupur Mahila CFUG is one of such women-led CFUG in Sarlahi. It comprises of 62 households. In 2006, the government handed over 3.55 hectares of forest along the Hariwan river in the Northern part of the district as CF. The dominant tree species in the forest are Acacia catechu, Dalbergia Sissoo, Shorea robusta and sacrum species. These are high value trees in terms of economic return. Human-wildlife conflict is at large in Bishnupur demonstrated by increasing crop damage by animals such as wild boar, deer, and Indian bison (Gaur), and killing of domestic animals by tigers. In addition, Bishnupur is a flood-prone area where inundation of the rice paddy fields is a major problem that the villagers face every year.
"The floods in 2016 slightly affected the bio-checkdams (bamboo dam) but the rest of the area was fine. The entire Eastern and mid Terai regions were submerged by water from thesunk by flood. However, the villagers at Bishnupur felt safe and secure after the construction of the check dams. Our village too would have been completely flooded if the check dams were not constructed." -Bishnu Bahadur Mahat, member of CF, Bishnupur
The seasonal floods in the Hariwan river that originates from the Churiya hills affect around 20 hectare of arable land every year. In the year 2013, members of the Bishnupur Mahila CFUG were severely affected by the floods. In the dry season, due to the lack of irrigation and access to technology and knowledge, agricultural products such as sugarcane, rice, maize, and soybean is very low. This has hindered the locals from benefitting from agriculture and making a respectable income.
Ms. Rama Paudel, the Chairperson of HIMAWANTI Province No. 2, Sharlahi came across an opportunity to participate in a ToT master training on climate change mitigation and adaptation under women leadership program organized by RECOFTC. The training helped Ms Paudel to enhance and expand her knowledge about climate change mitigation and adaptation techniques and methods. After the training, she started to encourage other CFUG members to take part in various skills development trainings pertaining to diversification of income opportunities, agro-forestry, bee-keeping and international exposure visit in Thailand.
During regular meetings of the CFUG, the agenda mostly covers discussions about forest quality improvement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, income generation, upscaling or unleashing the potential of forest resources, and use of land. After a number of meetings, interactions and consultations, the CFUG committee decided to build a check dam and bio-fence to protect from possible damages incurred as a result of flood and wild animals. Ms. Paudel took the lead in mobilizing the community and gathering external support. After many rounds of consultations and interactions with possible sources of fund and support, their CFUG received a grant from RECOFTC and the community (cash and kind)that was the equivalent of USD 10,000. After constructing the check dams, the results were almost immediate including protection from flood in the years to follow (see Text Box 1). The residents of the Bishnupur village started to engage in different types of income generating activities under the ‘Trees and Bees Project” supported by RECOFTC.
The Bishnupur Mahila CFUG coordinated with a number of organizations to expedite the process of climate change mitigation and adaptation. These are mentioned below:
- DFO- provision of seedlings of fodders, bamboo and forages (Plantation and technical support to review and renew the Operational Plan of the CFUG)
- Hariban Municipality – Office building of the CFUG
- The Underground Water Irrigation Project (Dhanusa)-deep water tube well
- District Livestock Office – bee-keeping orientation to CFUG members
- District Agricultural Office- provision of agro-forestry plant species for farmlands
- FECOFUN and HIMAWANTI – network and linkages with other CF groups in the country
The training helped Ms Paudel to enhance and expand her knowledge about climate change mitigation and adaptation techniques and methods.
Towards climate change adaptation
The Bishnupur Mahila CFUG carried out a number of measures to safeguard the village and its inhabitants from climate change induced threats such as prolonged drought, flood, soil erosion and landslide. Some of these measures were:
- Construction of check dams to protect from flood
- Plantation of bamboo to make the dams stronger and sustainable
- Planation of agro-forestry species
- Cultivation of upland crops
- Plantation of 10,000 plants in barren land
In recent years, the CFUG has conducted a number of meetings and maintained regular coordination with the municipality, DFO, Irrigation Office, Livestock Office. As a result, the CFUG has been acquiring various kinds of support to make and implement its adaptation plans. People from nearby CFUGs, local government, NGOs, and government line agency staff members frequently visit the site and interact with the CFUG members to learn about the climate change mitigation and adaptation process and techniques.
"The members of the Bishnupur Mahila CFUG have been learning about and improving their skills to erosion control and adaptation techniques. The CFUG can select the species that are suitable for plantation in barren (and private) land. These practices have taught the women members about how to cope with climate change impacts. They are known about the plantation and protection techniques and are also able to maintain the check dams. Women are taking leadership positions and are actively coordinating with other organizations in Sarlahi." - Ms. Rama Paudel
If given complete autonomy and transfer of authority, community forest user groups can become viable local institutions for sustaining forests management by establishing partnership with many NGOs and service providers (Pokharel, Branney, & Nurse, 2007)*. Currently, around 17 CF members (28% out of the total CFUG members) are engaged in commercial bee-keeping and seasonal vegetable farming. The tentative yearly incomes are on average of USD 400 and USD 250 from honey and vegetables respectively. These activities are led by women who also carry out their daily household chores. Along with commercial farming, the CFUG has other sources of income such as selling timber, firewood, grasses, brooms, sugarcane and so on These activities have helped to fulfill the nutritional and food security needs by providing access to alternative livelihood opportunities.
*(References can be found in published report)