United Nations
Information Centre | Nepal
Environmental Causes of Displacement
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In June 2013 a study was carried out in five districts vulnerable to floods, drought, or landslides to collect first-hand information about specific environmental stresses and their impact on the displacement of local people. Mahottari District was selected for its problems with flooding; Udayapur District for landslides; and Panchthar and Kavre districts selected for drought stress. Gulmi District was selected because the flow of emigrants has remained high since historical times.
The findings reveal that environmental stress often displaces people who depended on ecosystem services for their livelihoods. The following are some of the highlights.
1. Over the last 10 years, water sources in Panchthar and Kavre have gradually
dried up, over the last ten years and springs in Gulmi have been drying up
rapidly in the same period. The government has declared 11 villages in Kavre
2. Water markets have flourished in areas where local water sources have become dry. In Yashok, Panchthar, for example, people pay NPR 1.5 per litre for water tractors bring from faraway sources.
3. Forest cover in Yashok, Panchthar, increased over the last 10 years. Farmers claim that longer periods of the drought have forced them to leave arable land fallow, thus enable trees to grow. Some abandoned agricultural land is now forested.
4. In Mahottarai, because of the declining groundwater table, there is less water in wells and people, mostly women, have to wait in queues to collect water.
5. Farmers reported sharp declines in the production of rice, maize, millet, wheat, mustard, peanuts, buckwheat, broom grass, ginger, lemons, and oranges. People in Yashok, Panchthar District, and Dauwa, Gulmi District, have stopped planting rice because conditions are too dry.
6. Practicing animal husbandry has become difficult, and the production of milk and meat has declined in drought-hit areas.
7. People from Panchthar and Gulmi have coped with water shortages by moving to Terai districts. In Kavre, people with homes in the highlands have moved to lower elevations where more water is available. Those from Panchtar do not expect to return; they often find opportunities to work on a contract basis in the paddy fields of Jhapa and Morang and are content to remain. In fact, some migrant families from Yashok have certificates enabling them to live permanently in Jhapa and Morang. Migrants from Gulmi and Kavre, in contrast, hope to return once the water situation improves. Displaced families from Kavre do not have migration certificates because their migration (to lower-lying land in the same VDC) is largely temporary in nature.
8. Displacement due to the floods and landslides in Mahottarai and Uaypur districts is permanent because the land where migrants once lived has generally turned into wasteland.
9. More Chhetri and Brahman families migrate than do aadivasi (indigenous) and janjati (ethnic group) families.
10. Historically, people from Panchathar, and Gulmi migrated to the Terai in search for better opportunities. But this trend seems to be changing. In the 1990s, it was the armed conflict that drove people to move and now it is drought. The historical trend of migration among the people of Kavre is within the district, from high to lowland.
11. Though Udayapur and Mohattari once attracted migrants from the hilly areas today they themselves are growing increasingly vulnerable due to landslides and floods respectively.
GoN, UNDP, UNEP ,   (2013 )
Type / Script:
Progress Report in English
Thematic Group:
 UNDP : Social and Institutional Developoment
13.02.00  -  Disaster Prevention, Preparedness And Relief
Reference Link:
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