News and Views June 2012
On location in the Himalaya: Climate changes and response.
Women of the 200-year-old village of Chausauli in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya gather to fetch good quality water from a slow-flowing natural spring. Women collect water for drinking and cooking only once a day -- slowly filling containers ranging from traditional copper pots to recycled plastic pails. In recent years water shortages have altered social divisions so that upper and lower castes now use the same spring since other springs have dried up. Villagers throughout this region north of Delhi report lack of water to be an increasing problem as climate change alters rain patterns and makes for more evaporation of water.
A related issue is deforestation from collection of firewood for open indoor cooking fires. This is not only a source of unhealthy indoor smoke, but black carbon soot sent into the atmosphere adds to global warming. This village is one of hundreds to benefit from programs to inventory and protect water supplies, reduce deforestation, increase climate change resilience and establish women's groups, by the Uttarakhand Environmental Education Center. Problems from changes in water -- reduced supplies for household use and agriculture, as well as more severe rainstorms causing landslides -- have been seen in many places on the current World View of Global Warming documentation trip to India and Nepal. Funding for this work was generously provided by the Karuna Foundation - US. More photos and stories are coming soon to this website.
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