Poverty and Climate Change in Nepal : Poverty Analysis in Far-Western Rural Hills
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ネパールにおける気候変動と貧困問題に関する研究 : 極西農山村地域を中心に
Joshi, Niraj Prakash
Nepal is well-known for the richness in natural resources as well as culture including human resources. Unfortunately, the country falls under the category of least developed countries. Poverty, measured both in terms of monetary as well as non-monetary dimensions, is quite persistent in the country. Furthermore, the country, being poor with limited capacity to adapt and dependent on natural resources in greater extent, is highly vulnerable to climate change. Thus it is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Due to the severity of the poverty problem in the country, there is plethora of literatures on poverty. However, virtually all of these literatures are based on cross-sectional analysis that make static analysis of poverty and fail to capture the dynamic aspects of poverty. Therefore, this study aims to analyze the dynamic aspects of poverty in relation to socio-economic as well as environmental factors.
The study is based on sustainable livelihood framework. Poverty is affected by several macroeconomic indicators such as growth rate, inflation rate and population growth rate. Similarly, geographic regions such as development regions, ecological zones and rural-urban divide affect poverty. Besides this macro level consideration, micro level variables such as socio-demographic factors also affect poverty. In addition, economic factors such as resource possession affect poverty directly or through livelihoods strategies, which could be either natural resource based like agriculture and forestry or non-natural based like salaried job, remittance and business. Here, economic factors and livelihood strategies are affected by environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall trend, and climate extremes like hailstorm, landslide and flood, which can be attributed to climate change. The impact of environmental factors depends on the geographic location of the place. With this analytical framework as well as severity of problem in mind, twelve districts representing each of five development regions as well as three ecological zones were selected for the study of poverty. Forty samples from each district were selected from the Village Development Committee (VDC) in the vicinity of headquarters through random sampling. Whereas for the in-depth study of poverty, to capture both static as well as its dynamic aspects, sixty samples, each from two VDCs of poverty-stricken Far-Western Rural Hill district of Baitadi, were surveyed in 2001 and 2007, especially.
However, due to the consistency in data quality, 116 households from the first survey (in 2001) were considered for the analysis. For the analysis of poverty dynamics, second wave of survey was conducted in 2007 among the same household that was surveyed in 2001. The second wave of survey, however, could locate only 106 households. Therefore, total sample for the study of poverty dynamics constitutes 106 households. These samples were selected through stratified random sampling techniques in order to represent all strata of the households in the VDCs in terms of caste group as well as resource possession. The data was analyzed using several statistical tools such as frequencies, mean, cross-tabulation, as well as empirical tools such as regression analysis.
The study shows that poverty is quite persistent in Nepal. Such persistence of poverty, especially in the rural areas makes poverty a core issue to be researched in rural Nepal. None of the macroeconomic indicators in Nepal considered under this study are favorable for poverty reduction. Even most of the poverty reduction programs and policies implemented by the government failed to substantially reduce poverty. Besides, new environmental threats that can be attributed to climate change are emerging and adversely affect poverty in Nepal. However, it comes with a remarkable potential to generate significant amount of revenue from international climate change regimes through mitigation effort, which also has synergy to adapt the adverse climate change impacts in the Nepalese context. The recent trend in climate variables is causing adverse impact on the yield of major summer food crops such as maize, potato and millet. Suppression of these food crops' yield significantly reduces the probability of the country falling into food self-insufficiency.
Poverty analysis based on household level data shows that the problem of food insecurity is more severe in Hills and Mountains. Also, households with higher family size and higher dependency ratio, households headed by female and households having lower resources possession are suffering from higher incidence of food insecurity. Incidence of poverty is significantly high in Far-Western Rural Hills. This is mainly due to higher concentration of female-headed households, higher dependency ratio, seasonal labor migration, low level of resource possession and geographical disadvantages that hinder access to basic social services like transportation, communication, education, and health. These are also the factors responsible for chronic and transitory poverty. Occurrence of natural disasters increases the risk of transitory poverty, i.e., move-into-poverty. Therefore, the provision of income generating opportunities could be helpful to cope with poverty. This helps to reduce dependency ratio based on economically active members to the extent of economically active age groups by ensuring income generating opportunities with regulated working hours as well as regulated wage rate. This is very critical for the poor households whose members are forced to work regardless of the nature of work as well as age in order to meet their basic needs. Expansion of irrigation could be crucial in the generation of employment through commercial agriculture. This also serves as an adaptation program to climate change, which will be very effective in dealing with the transitory poverty. Therefore, any livelihood intervention to deal with chronic poverty should focus on Melauli, OC households, female-headed households, households headed by a head engaged in agriculture and laboring, marginal famers with small/marginal land holding with limited irrigation access, and higher dependency ratio.
Whereas, targeting OC households, households head with low years of schooling, small landholding, households suffering from climate related natural disasters (more common in Melauli) will be crucial in dealing with transitory poverty (or restrict households move into of poverty).
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Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation
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