Stories of change from Nepal’s peaks to plains
Himalayas to Ocean (H2O) was a multimedia project that follows the Gandaki river in Nepal from high up in the Himalayan peaks to hundreds of kilometres further downstream in the country’s floodplains. Along the way, it recounts the stories of those who live at the water’s edge – the women, men and children who rely on this vital resource for their daily survival – and the way their lives are inevitably tied to the fate of water in a changing climate.
At first glance, water is plentiful in Nepal. The country’s 6,000 rivers and its glaciers are major sources, ensuring a year-round water supply to millions of people in South Asia. Yet, the Himalayas are currently undergoing dramatic changes and are estimated to be warming three times faster than the global average. Nepal has already been ranked by the Climate Change Risk Atlas (2010) as the fourth most vulnerable country in terms of impacts of climate change; by 2050, parts of the Himalayas could see a 4-5 oC warming.
However, the impacts of climate change in Nepal extend far beyond the melting of iconic glaciers in the high Himalayas. Shifts in the hydrological cycle are leading to more erratic monsoon rains, and extreme rainfall events becoming less frequent but more intense in nature. Such changes are likely to lead to an increase in natural disasters such as floods, landslides, droughts, springs drying up, fire and storms.
H2O aims to capture and present those changes, and document what they mean for people living along the river in four distinct areas, summarised below.