LIVING ON THE EDGE IN THE NEPALESE INDRAWATI RIVER BASIN; A study on water-induced stress and hazards and the factors that determine the resilience of Himalaya communities
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Exacerbating climate variability, population growth and land use changes make the occurrence and severity of water-induced stress and hazards increasingly problematic. Communities in mountain regions in the global South are particularly vulnerable to ecological disturbances since their livelihood directly depends on the natural resource base. With an agricultural cycle that is increasingly uncertain, it is urgently required to identify the factors that determine the resilience of these communities, and what the current resilience gaps are. For this research, a case study has been conducted in six communities of the Indrawati river basin in the Nepalese Himalaya. A wide variety of community members and representatives of local, district and central-level institutions has been consulted with the aim to characterise the landscape of institutions that are vital in adaptation efforts to water-induced stress and hazards. Special attention has been given to three components: - The sensitivity of mountain communities and their livelihood strategies, - The perception of community members towards ecological change processes, - The role of institutions, their services and interventions in shaping the manoeuvring space of mountain communities and thereby increasing their resilience. The institutions that, with their services and interventions, influence mountain community resilience are diverse in number and kind. While some institutions engaged in natural resource management, others contribute to the provision of gateway systems that, once households have access to them, widen their opportunities to autonomously adapt and be resilient in the face of the adverse effects of water-induced stress and hazards. Diversity in institutions that provide basic systems like financial services and marginalised group empowerment programmes is seen as beneficial. Diversity in institutions involved in natural resource management is however seen as a challenge. The sectoral approach in which the water sector is managed at present is giving rise to situations in which increasingly scarce resources are not treated as such. While within the framework of climate change adaptation, many new projects are launched in Nepal, the IWRM principle does not receive the due attention it needs. To ensure that planned adaptation efforts will not miss their relevance to foster the long-term resilience of mountain communities, the institutional structure of natural resource management institutions requires urgent review.