07/02/2010, 00.00
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Himalayas, within 20 years over a billion victims of climate change

by Kalpit Parajuli
The study by an Indian research company reveals the dramatic decline of Himalayan water sources. For researchers, the production of wheat and rice in China and India will decline to 50%. In Nepal, thousands of people have already abandoned their land because of food shortages and flooding caused by melting glaciers.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Within the next 20 years more than 1.3 billion people will be affected by drought. The Himalayan reservoirs and rivers that cross Bangladesh, China, India and Nepal will suffer a depletion of 275 billion cubic meters of water, because of melting glaciers and pollution. This was revealed by a study of the Strategic Foresight Group, a research company based in India.

The document, published June 28, reveals disturbing scenarios. According to researchers in the next 20 years wheat and rice yields in China and India will drop by 50% because of more frequent droughts, while the food demand of the population will increase by 20%. "The availability of fresh water – states the report - will fall in all four countries due to climate change, reduced rainfall and other natural disturbances, such as pollution”. By 2050 over 200 million people will move from the Himalayan region because of lack of food and water.

According to media reports the depopulation of the Nepalese Himalayas has already begun. The newspaper Gorkha Patra, has calculated that over 10 thousand people have fled their lands because of the decrease in harvest due to the early melting of snows and the irregularity of monsoon rains. Solukhumbu district, in the foothills of the Himalayas, hundreds of residents of villages around the ice Lake Imja (pictured) have left their homes because of the flooding of the basin.

Bidur Upadhya, an expert on climate change, tells AsiaNews: "The frequency of drought has increased 3 times compared to past decades and agriculture is in serious crisis. Crops depend on how much rain falls in the monsoon season. Countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and India, are no longer able to feed their population due to rapid population growth and decreasing productivity of agricultural areas”.

"Farmers - says Bhusan Tuladhar, of the Nepalese government’s Committee on Climate Change - are forced to change the type of seed based on changes in the monsoons. Currently the only thing we can do is adjust our habits according to climate change. "

From September 27 to 28 Nepal will host a meeting of the Alliance of Mountain Countries. The event was born from the initiative of the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to study measures needed to cope with the melting of Himalayan glaciers.


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