We all remember how our grandmothers would soak the beans the previous night, preheat them in the sunlight and then wrap the different beans in clean white cotton cloth before cooking them all at once in the same pot? Imagine we added the pressure cooker, efficient stoves, and we will all understand how everyone can do more, with less. In this case more food cooked with less energy.
The environmental challenges facing the world today cannot be solved unless each person takes responsibility and begins to change their behavior. We can no longer take our only planet and natural resources for granted. We cannot continue to grow the economy with the assumption that nature is a free good. The COVID-19 virus has reminded us that we share the planet with others.
Caring for the Churia
Birgunj can solve its annual inundation and have sufficient water in winter if it decides to care for the Churia hills to the north. The Churia has seen increasing degradation and its ability to store the monsoon rain water is decreasing. The extraction of stones and sand after removing all the plant cover has made the conditions really bad.
The cost of building retaining walls and paying for flood and drought damage in the terai is on the rise. The bread basket of Nepal could be a thing of the past if we do not act now. Annual flooding is not just going to damage infrastructure and property but also cause diseases and crop damage. The terai is Nepal’s industrial hub too and production could be hampered. Insurance costs will surely go up.
Community forestry has now become the norm and the way ahead. Nepal’s success in forest conservation is now celebrated globally. In order to protect the Churia hills and prevent the annual cycle of floods and drought we need to map out all community managed forests in and near the Churia hills and expand them. This may require more management skills and technical capacity, but it is wise to build on existing success than to create new models.
As the saying goes, “There is no need to invent a door every time we have to leave the room.” The monsoon is coming. We cannot solve flooding problems by working alone. We must work together. We need to start at the Churia.