ICEM consultants on the ADB Mainstreaming climate change risk management in development project recently undertook a field trip to the remote Mustang district, Nepal. During the field trip the team collected information on development sector infrastructure for undertaking climate change vulnerability assessments for the district.

Mustang, located in the Trans-Himalayan Region in the remote north of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountain ranges, is an attraction for tourists, not only foreigners, but also for Nepalese who come to see the spectacular beautiful scenery of the cold desert zone and to pay homage to the famous Muktinath temple and other religious shrines.

A team of five experts visited the district from 28th November to 3rd December 2013 including settlements of Jomsom, Kagbeni, Tirigaun, Chhusang, Muktinath, Marpha, Tukuche, Kobang and Lete settlements. The team represented four sectors including roads and bridges; water supply and sanitation; water induced disaster prevention; and urban development. During the field trip the team members met with local government agencies and communities and undertook detailed site assessments of development infrastructure.

With an average elevation of 13,200ft the district faces unique climate change issues. The population of 13,500 is likely to experience increased frequency of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, increased incidence of landslides, increasing temperatures and more variable rainfall. Local people reported that they are already experiencing changes in rainfall which is affecting the agricultural sector. In addition, local residents reported increased frequencies of landslides and floods.

A number of examples of community climate change adaptation were discovered by the team. The traditional housing design in the district is changing from mud roofs to CGI sheets or RCC structures because of increased rainfall instead of snow. Local government and communities are also adapting to impacts on water supplies – for example the water supply system in Chhusang is highly vulnerable to erosion and landslides causing severe damage to the pipelines. The people are adapting by changing the pipeline alignment and material from HDPE to GI.

The team have now safely returned to Kathmandu where they are preparing undertaking climate vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning for the development infrastructure. These assessments will identify climate change vulnerable infrastructure in the district and prioritise strategies for each sector to adapt to the impacts of climate change.