Since the last few years, the natural spring has dried up, drying out the community well too. The local believe that the reason is deforestation. Now, their source of water is a natural spring lying couple of hours away from the village.
▌By Anuska Joshi
An enthralling and wonderful hike full of jungles, twisting and turning rivers, and occasional meet and greets with the local coming down or going up the paths takes us to the beautiful village of Dubar. Dubar is two hours hike form Chiti VDC in Lamjung district. Here, you can also get a glimpse of tea plantation which has recently started in Dubar. The reason for my visit to Dubar was to study the climatic changes and their impact on local people’s livelihood. It turned out to be an amazing learning experience and a practical lesson to my otherwise theoretical understanding.
Dubar is quite-well known among people as a place with beautiful scenery. It lies on the trail to the popular Barah Pokhari. All in all, it is a beautiful place with very hospitable and friendly locals.
After our long hike from Tilar to Purano Dubar, we met local who offered to provide us assistance in finding food and lodging for our stay. The house that we stayed was possibly the most hospitable household in the area. The “Aama” of the household was always calling us her own daughters and taking really good care of us, with timely food and a cosy room. They also took us to all the households personally and were a constant guide, translating the locals when we did not understand, and telling us all about the place and lifestyle.
Most of the people here are Tamangs. They have always practiced subsistence farming that consists of maize and millet. There were instances when potato farming was also done, but pest attack resulted in failure of the crop. Locals also said that they have not tried experimenting with other crops and it has always been maize and millet.
Lighting and hailstorm affects the local people most. There have been some instances of entire crop failure because of hailstorm. When there is crop failure, farmers opt for alternative income sources like rental farming. Farming is also difficult because of poor access to water. There is no irrigation system as a backup during drought. So when there is erratic rainfall, farmers do not have much option but to sit back and look at the devastation. The frequency of hailstorm has increased in the past couple of years, and the lightning has also struck one home resulting to injury of a mother and child.
It is also quite difficult for the locals to have access to basic services like drinking water and market. Earlier, they had a community well that collected water from the natural spring. The water collected was sufficient enough for the locals to use for drinking as well as irrigation purposes. But since the last few years, the natural spring has dried up, drying out the community well too. The local believe that the reason is deforestation. Now, their source of water is a natural spring lying couple of hours away from the village. They have brought water to the village through polythene pipes. Problems like leakage and damage in pipes, among others, often affect water supply. They need to walk all the way to find and fix the problem in pipes, and then reach the main natural spring to arrange it again. This makes their day quite hectic, as they also need to walk a few hours to get to the forest to collect firewood. The nearest market and health post is also an hour’s walk away. There is a local school in the community, but most of the students skip school to assist family in farming.
Invasive species are proving to be another nuisance for the people here. Since the last few years, the invasive species are increasing in number, and the more the species increase, the more difficult it becomes to eradicate them. The only successful eradication happens when we prevent it and stop it in earlier stages. Now, the invasive species are everywhere. Locals have tried burning, and burying them, but say that none of their methods have worked yet. They were also into goat farming in the past. Now, they have also given up because of lack of fodder which is due to expansion of invasive species. Important medicinal herbs are also dying up.
A new path that the local people are now taking is cardamom farming. The household that we stayed in was the first to start cardamom plantation in the village. Now, many other households have also planted cardamom as an experiment. The cardamom needs to be planted with a tree to give it shade too, so it is more like agro forestry. The locals are very hopeful of this endeavor, as a kilogram of cardamom fetches about one thousand rupees. Local villagers are also exploring market to sell their products. Along with cardamom farming, they also go out to the Himalayan regions to collect rare herbs to sell in the market. Mostly, the younger generation is involved in collection of medicinal herbs.
It was also very enriching to talk to many senior locals of the place who had their own stories to share. Many of them lamented about getting old now, and how they used be handsome and beautiful in their times, especially after looking at the pictures I took of them. They all seemed to wonder how fast time actually flies. Though some of them have been to foreign countries to ply their trade, most of them spent their whole life in Dubar. They always had this twinkle in their eye when talking about their past years.
The trip was therefore, very enriching, knowing about the livelihood of the people, their stories and their farming style.