People from high hills migrating to lowlands as mercury dips


With the mercury plummeting further, the indigenous communities of the upper belt of Bajura and other nearby districts have started migrating to lower elevations in western Nepal.

Just like the previous years, this year too, the residents of northern Bajura, Humla and Mugu have started descending to lower elevations with their herd of sheep and Himalayan goats and cows.

Most of these families migrate to places such as Barhabisa and Kuldevmandau of Bajura, Achham, Doti and Surkhet.

Migrating to lower elevations helps them shun the extreme cold. Most of these families engage in trade to make some money during this time.

Lok Gurung of Pandusen, Himali Rural Municipality, is heading to Achham with his seven-member family. He will stay there for around six months.

“People say we must stay at our own place to be keep coronavirus away, but we have no option. We can’t stay put in our own place and suffer the extreme cold,” said Gurung. “More than the fear of the virus, we fear the extreme cold that can kill us and again this is the time when we can make some money by doing some business,” he said.

The Bhote and other communities that live in the upper belt of Bajura go to the bordering Chinese territories to the north during the four months of the rainy season.

“We’ve been migrating to lower altitudes for years during this time. It not only helps us avoid the cold, but also helps us make some money and look after our family,” said Jagat Lama, ward 3 member of Gumba, Himali Rural Municipality.

According to locals, the trend of mass migration is depriving kids of education.

In Bajura alone, more than 640 families of the upper belt migrate to lower altitudes during winter.

As everyone in the villages migrate with their families and cattle, the kids miss their schools. Again, women and their kids are also deprived of basic vaccines during this period.