Nepal’s Growing Environmental Injustice – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Every morning Ram Narayan Kahar (name changed) gets up early to start work on his field, just a block from his ancestral home. His family has lived and farmed in the community of Siddharthanagar, formerly known as Bhairahawa, in Lumbini Province for at least six generations. When we had a chance to speak with him one fine morning recently, Ram Narayan and his family members were busy preparing their fields for rice plantation. “It’s not the same for us anymore. We haven’t been able to produce that much rice lately,” Ram Narayan said in a low, concerned voice.

He added, “It has been a challenge to obtain enough good quality water to irrigate the land and working outdoors has been a challenge due to increasing air pollution in Bhairahawa.” He pointed to his wife and youngest son, while sharing with us that many of his family members have been suffering from respiratory problems lately. When asked about his family’s doctor visit history, he said they were unable to afford the high medical costs.

His family members prefer to take time off from work to recover from illness while bearing the consequences of lost income from being unable to work. He summed up the plight of this family by reciting a popular Nepalese film song: Gaai ta badhyo dhungro ma mohi chaina mohi chaina, gariba ko chameli boldine kohi chaina. (“Even if we have a cow that tied the butterpot, we have no butter; oh my god, there is no one to speak for the poor like us either.”)

Ram Narayan’s family is representative of poor families across Nepal. As the country steers towards economic development, the pressures on the environment have gone unseen. The question of who suffers most from environmental degradation has been largely overlooked in policy considerations. Like Ram Narayan, a significant portion of Nepal’s marginalized population depends heavily on agriculture and other outdoor labor for their economic livelihood.

As they are more exposed to environmental hazards such as air pollution, these marginalized people often bear higher health and socioeconomic burdens from environmental degradation, such as physical illness and lost income and productivity. Since they are typically not covered by benefits such as paid sick leave and health insurance, their opportunity cost from pollution is much higher. Therefore, environmental degradation threatens the country’s homogeneous development, which it does by setting in motion a vicious circle of poverty, health and socioeconomic inequalities, and further marginalization – a veritable poverty trap for socioeconomically vulnerable communities.

What can be done in terms of policy making to address growing environmental injustice in Nepal? The long-term goal should be to improve the quality of the environment – be it by improving the overall quality of air or water resources – through strict regulation of polluting activities. A wealth of research has shown that improving the general environment leads to significant health and socioeconomic improvements for marginalized communities.

Policy makers should immediately focus on developing policies that help to close the gaps in environmental exposure between socioeconomic subgroups. There could be specific programs targeting marginalized workers, such as B. the provision of health insurance. Likewise, subsidizing and providing funding for environmental protections—like drinking water filters, clean cookstoves, and face masks when working outdoors—and maintaining their resilient supply chains can help.

Finally, environmental awareness programs are needed to increase public awareness and individual action, particularly among the more exposed marginalized groups. These recommendations are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasize the importance of health and well-being (SDG Goal 3), reducing inequalities (SDG Goal 10) and creating sustainable cities and communities (SDG -Target 11) highlight ).

The author holds a PhD in economics from the University of New Mexico

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