Jul 28, 2010

Nagalim: Climate Change hits hard

Changes in Climate are affecting Food Security and the Quality of Life of the Naga Peoples, and in particular Women


Below is an article published by the Morung Express 

Climate Change is gradually showing its effect on the land and people of Nagaland. It is a fact too strong to ignore anymore. A land endowed with rich flora and fauna is witness to a number of changes taking place. Climatic and topographic change in Nagaland as a result of Climate Change is becoming physically visible; something more real than felt. And in the process, a section of people whose lives have been most effected is Naga women.  

In the overall debate of Climate Change, its impact on the lives of women has often been overlooked. But Climate  Change has inevitably had sever impact on the lives of women all over the world. Similarly,  life  for Naga women is no longer easy, as signs of hardship in adapting to their social roles have become increasingly  visible. 

The effect of Climate  Change on Naga women has never been more severe than it is today. It has made the search  for livelihood tougher. The impact is  severer in the rural areas, where women still depend on local natural resources for  living. There is greater food insecurity and the quality of life is in sharp decline in the rural parts  of the state. People once blessed with nature’s bounty are now resorting to desperate means for sustenance. And there has been an increased necessity for women to look beyond their means to sustain their livelihood. 

Deforestation and jhum cultivation have led to extensive loss of forest cover in the last few decades. Women are now compelled to go deep into the  forest  to fetch firewood. In many villages across the state, villagers have unanimously stopped allowing outsiders — including traditional neighbours — to cut firewood within owned territories. 

Fines are being imposed on perpetrators. “Earlier we didn’t have to go very far to get firewood…but now there are hardly any trees around…only fields,” a woman in Philimi village in Zunheboto said. Every year, thousands of trees are being felled for jhum cultivation. Naga women now have to work harder to get their basic utilities like firewood and water. And with water sources becoming scarce, household tasks have become harder for women. 

Naga women perform most time consuming and physically demanding tasks. Thus, the effect of climate change is demanding more work time for women. In Tuensang, growing the famous ‘kolhar’ has become an arduous task. Due to change in climatic conditions the altitude for growing ‘kolhar’ has been increasing which is making it physically harder for women farmers. 

Farmers are also seeing their crops being battered by changing weather patterns, and droughts and floods are already affecting female farmers. With increasing temperatures, there are reports about new species of pests infecting the crops. There is rain and hailstorms when it is not expected and farmers now have to adapt to the changes.  

One unique thing about the flora in Nagaland is the abundance of edible wild plants and fruits. This too has been affected due to changing weather patterns. “Earlier we used to collect bamboo shoots just below the river (in her village)…now we have to go deep into the jungle,” a vegetable vendor in Dimapur said.  

Animal fodder which used to be available in abundance in the wild is no longer easily available. Women and children now walk longer distance to cut fodder for their livestock. Most villages have stopped allowing outsiders to collect animal fodder from their village jungle as the jungles are getting exhausted. 

Climate change is affecting not only environment but also on the economic and social aspect of people’s lives. And rural women are most affected by it. Oblivious to many, the hard hitting reality can only be witnessed when one travels across the state and see the changes taking place. There is a serious need to tackle climate change by involving gender experts who can analyse the situation and address the issue accordingly.