Community resilience and the environment

This month International Alert published an article in the journal of Environment and Natural Resources Research on the vulnerability of communities in Nepal and Pakistan to environmental risks, and how these risks affect community resilience.

Nepal and Pakistan face a triple challenge of political instability, weak governance and vulnerability to climate change. Communities are highly vulnerable to floods, landslides and droughts. However, the reasons for their vulnerability are complex and differ from location to location.

The article analyses and compares the vulnerability of communities to environmental risks in three districts in mid-west Nepal with communities in three districts in southeast Pakistan. While it addresses environmental exposure and sensitivity, the main focus is placed on adaptive capacity, including obstacles to adaptation and maladaptation. It also explores how the resilience of communities is affected by the combination of environmental risks and weak governance.

The findings of the research suggest that poor governance is a central obstacle to adaptation in both countries but driven by different factors. Examples of maladaptation to climate change risks include the provision of rice which undermines the production of traditional crops in Nepal and a water project in Pakistan which exposes local communities to floods. The challenge is to improve relations between governance providers and local communities while addressing the consequences of environmental risks, including migration and conflict.

The article appears in the August issue of Environment and Natural Resources Research, a quarterly journal published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education. The article is written by Nisha Pandey and Janani Vivekananda of International Alert, Janpeter Schilling of International Alert and the Institute of Geography at the University of Hamburg in Germany, and Moazzam Ali Khan of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Karachi in Pakistan.

Read the article here.

Photo: © International Alert/Niranjan Shrestha