Understanding the Changing Livelihoods, Vulnerability and COVID-19 PandemicVol. 8 No. 1 (2022)
The last few decades have witnessed changes in the livelihoods of the people that has manifested in the form of transition from traditional to commercial agriculture and growing off-farm employment activities such as (foreign labor) migration, small business, wage laboring etc. This change in livelihood has been catalysed by socio-economic and political change, particularly through market expansion, access to basic infrastructures such as road, electricity, information and communication technologies and improvement in education.
However, both farm and non-farm-based sources of livelihoods are ridden with multiple challenges. On the one hand, there is a wide range of factors such as the size of land, shortage of labor, water, and damage of crops by wild animals that is making farming challenging and is pushing rural people towards exploring new sources of livelihood. On the other hand, globalisation has opened up opportunities for people to join the international labour market, though in precarious working conditions.
COVID-19 and associated disease control measures have brought unprecedented disruptions to the lives of people around the world. In the Himalayan region, where the population is already vulnerable to the shocks related to climate change, strict lockdown imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 disease caused loss of income due to diminished income-generating opportunities, and disruption in the social services, broken supply chain, and more. The shock of COVID-19 experienced in tandem with other existing stressors exacerbated the pre-existing vulnerabilities of the people in the region. While there is a broad understanding that COVID-19 has deepened social, political, and economic inequities on multiple fronts, much is yet to be understood about the longer-term impacts of the pandemic in the Himalayan region. Therefore, it is pertinent to ask how COVID-19 impacts livelihoods vulnerability in the Himalayan region.
This special issue of New Angle – Understanding the Changing Livelihoods, Vulnerability and COVID-19 Pandemic focuses on building and further deepening the understanding of the short-term and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods and the responses adopted at the local level to cope with the crisis. To that end, we invite papers including but not limited to the following themes.
- Changing dynamics of livelihood strategies and practices
- Understanding the livelihood vulnerability
- Impacts of COVID-19 on the livelihoods
- Policy and institutional aspects of COVID-19 containment
- People’s responses to COVID-19 related situations
- Changing dynamics of migration and remittance in the face of COVID-19
- Local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and lessons
- Local innovations for adaptation in the new normal
URBANISATION AND DISASTER RISKS IN THE HIMALAYAVol. 7 No. 1 (2021)
The Himalaya region, having an active geology and dynamic geography, frequently experiences hazards of high magnitudes and intensities such as flood, landslide, earthquake, fire, avalanche, storm and epidemic, as well as everyday accidents. These events kill hundreds of people and damage property and resources every year, undermining the development of the region. Rapid urban population growth in the region has led to increasingly dense urban settlements, and the risk of disasters in these settings demands urgent attention. In many contexts, urban governance initiatives are prioritising improved resilience to potential disasters, devising plans and policies and undertaking infrastructure and development activities (led by both governmental and non-governmental organisations). However, not all urban dwellers have received equal attention, leaving some more vulnerable than others. Given the nature of Himalayan people’s exposure to multi-hazard risks, understanding diverse experiences and perceptions of risks, root causes of risks (bio-physical, and socio-technical and political-institutional), and the underlying narratives that inform differential responses and abilities to deal with and reduce such risks are crucial. Such scrutiny can help in enhancing the risk management abilities and resilience of marginalised dwellers and their representatives, setting the ground for more equitable and resilient cities. Furthermore, such nuanced interpretations help to expose how risk management institutions and actors interact, and how urban governance assemblages explicitly or implicitly prioritise development activities in multi-hazards contexts. Exploring local risks, urban dwellers’ needs, narratives, institutions, and practices will, therefore, not only be an instrument to make local communities aware of the future risk of hazards and disasters but also indicate policy solutions for future planning to mitigate and prepare for them.
For example, the urban areas and populations in Nepal are rapidly explanding primarily due to rural-urban migration and the conversion of seemingly rural areas into municipalities. Urban governance, particularly in the newly declared urban areas (e.g., ‘smart cities’ of Kathmandu), frequently lack institutional capacity, infrastructure and knowledge for disaster preparedness, exposing ‘new urban’ residents to multi-hazard risks. Additionally, the exposure to multi-hazard risk and effects of disasters on residents vary along the lines of formal to informal settlements, class, caste/ethnicity, gender, and ability and access to local political economy. Understanding disaster risk and urban social vulnerability and resilience can, therefore, be a pragmatic entry point to foresee tomorrow’s safer city.
Against this backdrop, Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS) is pleased to call for papers for a special issue of the New Angle: Nepal Journal of Social Science and Public Policy entitled, “Urbanisation and Disaster Risks in the Himalaya”. We welcome researchers, academicians, professionals, national and international organisations, and graduate students from Nepal and other Himalayan countries to submit their research articles in this special issue. The knowledge generated from this publication will help improve awareness of potential risks and risk reduction strategies, contribute to enhancing knowledge on disaster governance, and help city and national governments to better understand and undertake necessary steps to plan for and reduce the risk of present and future cities.
- Understanding Risk: Types of urban risks and how they are framed in narratives of risk that exist among urban dwellers, stakeholders, networks of actors, and how these framings relate to stakeholders’ and actors’ interests and interactions
- Understanding Disaster Risk governance: Structures of urban disaster risk reduction (DRR) governance, including roles & responsibilities, forms of authority, and interactions among and between formal and informal DRR actors and institutions, and the effects on vulnerability and resilience among different groups.
- Understanding Resilience: Narratives of resilience that exist among local to national stakeholders and institutions, their relative influence, and how they are informed and reproduced over time. Everyday lived experiences of resilience, post-disaster community coping/adaptation strategies and mechanisms.
- Political Capabilities: How urban social structures (e.g., caste/ethnicity, gender, class such as formal/informal settlements, house owners/tenants) and their corresponding risks, vulnerabilities, resilience, planning capacities, and access to scalar political economy, connect to political capabilities (i.e., ability to determine risk reduction and development trajectories through access to and influence over local institutions, politics, infrastructures, markets).
- Recovery and Disaster: Post 2015 earthquake recovery and rehabilitation endeavors, effect and response to yearly flooding, extreme rainfall, landslides, and inundation both in urban centers and peri-urban spaces.
- Policy and Planning: Policy, planning and governance initiatives for tomorrow’s cities, including risk reduction, disaster response, development-disaster risk trade-offs and the role of technology innovations in disaster management.
Water Scarcity and Sustainability in the HimalayasVol. 6 No. 1 (2020)
Water is life, a source of sustenance of humans, their livelihoods and prosperity. Out of all the water of earth, the saline water comprises of 97.5 percent and only 2.5 percent is fresh water and almost 2% of it is frozen. As there is small amount of usable water available, achieving water security is one of the biggest global challenges, affecting environmental sustainability, economic growth, and social development. The ever-increasing threat to global water supplies makes it imperative to understand the causes and consequences of water scarcity and to find pathways of water achieving sustainable management of water sources. Although the Himalayan region is popularly known as the ‘Water Tower’ of Asia indicating that there is plenty, water scarcity exists ubiquitously in relation to quantity and quality for domestic use and irrigation system among other usage. Physical availability of water alone has not been able to ensure access to water equitability due to complexities of infrastructural development, institutional efficacy, gender and social dynamics, rapid population growth, haphazard local development/urbanization and the changing dynamics of climate change.
In the context above, our goal in proposing this special issue of the New Angle on Water Scarcity and Sustainability is to consolidate many of the ongoing, yet scattered, evidence on water scarcity, security and sustainability into a single journal issue.
The contributions to this special issue will encompass a broad spectrum of topics in water resources, including, but not limited to:
- Climate change impacts on water resources, scarcity and sustainability;
- Issues of gender and social inclusion in water governance;
- Challenges of managing water resources in the context of rapid urbanization in the era of climate change uncertainty;
- Policy and institutional dimensions of water governance;
- Conflict and collaboration on water resource management.
Editorial Coordinator: Dil Khatri, PhD
Editorial team for the special issue: Dr. Chandra Pandey, Dr. Hemant Ojha
Water Security and Inclusive Water Governance in the HimalayasVol. 5 No. 1 (2019)
Understanding the Land Issues and Agrarian Reform in Post Conflict NepalVol. 4 No. 1 (2016)
Development and Foreign Aid in NepalVol. 3 No. 1 (2014)
Mapping the Trajectory and Dynamics of Nepal’s ‘Transition’Vol. 1 No. 1 (2011)