Prolonged drought hits Mustang locals hard

POKHARA: Locals of Mustang are worried a lot due to a prolonged spell of drought lasting for at least a year.

The locals fear that the continuing drought would affect the production of wheat and apple among other staple crops of the region.

The lack of rainfall for a long time will seemingly affect the agro productions, says a local, Jhango Sango Gurung (69) of Tangbe village of Chusang VDC.

"There has not been any rainfall in Mustang for the past eight to nine months," she says, adding, "Due to the absence of rain, the drinking water sources have also started to dry up."

A single staple crop is planted in this high altitude Himalayan region in a year. But, the production has dwindled due to lack of rainfall.

The Upper Mustang region sees a lot of snowfall every year, but this year it has been very low, locals say.

The region's six VDCs namely Lomanthang, Chonup, Chosera, Surkhang, Charang and Dhami have seen less snowfall than the previous year. The settlement in Samjung at Chosera VDC–9 has shifted to another VDC in search of water.

Social worker and CPN-UML Mustang Secretary, Dev Gurung, says the entire settlement shifted to another place after the drinking water source dried up due to extremely low snowfall.

Mustang's former King, Jigme Parwal Bista, has provided the land needed for relocating the settlement, a local Topke Gurung says.

"Around 10 to 12 years ago, Samjung was the source of water (for other villages also)," he says, adding, "Snowfall in the last year gradually lessened drying up the source resulting in drinking water scarcity and prompting the settlement to relocate."

The 18 households of Samjung village have shifted to Namsung village, which lies at a distance of three hour walk.

The locals who make a livelihood by grazing mountain goats and cows are now unable to find pasture for grazing their cattle, a local Karma Gurung says.

Western Regional Weather Office Pokhara Chief, Rajaram Dhakal, meanwhile, blames climate change for resulting in low rainfall.

"Manang and Mustang are such places where rainfall has always been low," Dhakal says. "But due to climate change, the rainfall has been lower as compared to past years," he adds.