Beyond the Myth of Eco-Crisis: Local Responses to Pressure on Land in Nepal - A study of Kakani in the Middle Hills
The diverse system of farms in the hills of Nepal has been significantly affected by soil erosion. Foreign ecologists who have studied the problem have concluded that population growth and deforestation have caused substantial land degradation in Nepal, resulting in an â€œeco-crisisâ€. Manandhar Gurung, a native Nepalese, believes otherwise. She argues that the villagers' cultural background has equipped them with the knowledge to renew and sustain their environment. Using questionnaires and extensive interviews with observations of the cultural habits of three caste and ethnic groups, the author develops and analyzes three sets of data to prove her point. The first set concerns subsistence agriculture and the economy in the context of crop loss due to erosion and flood, the second portrays the local decision-making process about environmental issues, and the third surveys outside intervention on issues of agricultural improvement and efficiency. Manandhar Gurung shows how the villagers are well aware of the relationships involving soil, slope, vegetation, and land use. The many maps, diagrams, pictures, and aerial photographs will be valuable to geographers, anthropologists, and scholars interested in the study of political economy in mountain adaptation. Sumitra Manandhar Gurung is a development activist and an independent development consultant living in Kathmandu, Nepal. Much of her work has appeared in Mountain Research and Development.