1814-1816: This was the period of the Anglo-Nepalese war, which left Nepal with the small amount of land it has today. This war proved the strength of the Nepalese army, and gave them their independence. (1)
1950: This was the year the Delhi Compromise was reached, which was a collaboration with India to overthrow the Ranas, which were under power. This compromise led to elections in Nepal. (1)
1954: This was the year that the Koshi Tappu wetland was leased to India. This led to an influx of Indian workers, who helped construct a dam in the area, so economic benefits that could have come for an increased need in labor were not given to the Nepali people. They also were restricted by the conversion of this area into a Ramsar site, unable to use a majority of the resources the wetland provided. (1)
1962: King Mahindra instituted the controversial panchayat system where the King maintained rule but had input from councils. This seemed to go under the new democratic nature of Nepal. (1)
1990: Student led protests forced the government to draft a new constitution, pushing Nepal to a multiparty democracy. There were more than 100 political parties and nongovernmental organizations began to get more involved in advocating for policies. (1)
1996: The Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (CPN-M) launched the peoples war, which was a civil war that lasted 10 years. (1)
2015: The 7.8 scale earthquake struck Nepal and is estimated to have effected over 8 million people. The results of the earthquake were catastrophic: 8,700 deaths, 22,200 injured, 505,000 homes destroyed. The damages are still being felt two years later as many people are still displaced.
The political history of Nepal is perhaps one of the most interesting; after two centuries of monarchical rule led to violent conflict with a struggle for democracy has led to an increasing amount of human security issues. One of the most important issues out of the few selected was the 10 year civil war led by the Maoist communist party. The resulting damages are comparable to the earthquake, although the earthquake displaced many more people. The impact on human security, which Matthew and Upreti define as “something that is achieved when and where individuals and communities have the options necessary to end, mitigate, or adapt to threats to their human, environmental and social rights; have the capacity and freedom to exercise to these options; and actively participate in pursuing these options” (140). The civil war disrupted social rights, as many schools were destroyed in this violent outbreak, as well as young women (an estimated 12,000) were trafficked. 13,000 people were killed over this ten year period and 200,000 people were displaced (1). The connection between this civil war and impact on the environment is also worth noting, as many rural places specifically were destroyed as a result of the violence. This led to an increase in rural to urban migration, as people were forced to relocate. This influx of people can have an influence on air pollution, as well as energy consumption. It can lead to an increase in informal settlements which put stress on the surrounding environments, in terms of resource management, overconsumption as well as contamination. The effect of the CPN-M is still seen as they have recently held the positions of Prime Minister in Nepal, they did not dissipate with the treaty signed but they in fact gained political sway as they took a majority of the seats. Their focus on social equality however does not seem to align with the violence that was a result of their actions. Yet it seems that the party has gained support as they shed light on class inequalities specifically, and unequal distribution of housing among the wealthy elite and the poor.
As we prepare to travel to Nepal and speak with community members in several different wards, it will be interesting to see if there is any long lasting damage in the community, or to note how the people felt about the overthrow. I also think it will be a challenging thing to ask questions about, and the underlying impacts might not be so obvious. To really assess the way climate change has effected these people, we must also consider political instability that disrupted the national security of Nepal, as well as the individual security of community members.
(1) Matthew, Richard A, and Bishnu Raj Upreti. “Environmental Change and Human Security in Nepal.” Global Environmental Change and Human Security Account, The MIT Press, 2010, pp. 137–152.