Nepal Earthquake: Agricultural Livelihood Impact Appraisal in Six Most Affected Districts

Nepal Earthquake: Agricultural Livelihood Impact Appraisal in Six Most Affected Districts
Jun 2015

The earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th resulted in huge devastation across 14 districts in the country. Six districts – Dhading, Dolokha, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and SIndhupalchock - were particularly badly hit and were further affected by several aftershocks including a particularly big one measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale on May 12th. In order to understand the impact of the earthquake and associated aftershocks on agriculture in the most severely affected districts, an Agricultural Livelihood Impact Appraisal (ALIA) was undertaken. The ALIA was a Nepal Food Security Cluster exercise led by FAO.

The study confirms that agricultural livelihoods in the six districts suffered particularly high levels of damage, and therefore support to livelihoods in these districts should be prioritised in agricultural recovery programmes. The key findings of the ALIA are as follows:

Crops: Impact on stored crops is very significant, particularly for rice maize and millet. Impact on standing crop much lower, but further damage can be expected on growing crops and post-harvest. Impact on seed availability is very significant for rice and millet, posing a further threat to household food security from October onwards, when the crops will be harvested.

Agricultural Tools, Fertilizer and Labour: The proportion of agricultural tools destroyed is particularly high in the six districts, and this will seriously reduce capacity for cultivation. Household access to fertilizer reduced, further threatening production prospects in the summer cropping season. A steep reduction in labour availability for agriculture is apparent as households struggle to meet more urgent shelter needs for themselves and their livestock.

Livestock: Livestock ownership is a major contribution to agricultural livelihoods, 80% of households own animals. Animal losses due to the earthquake are significant with 16% for cattle and 36% for poultry with more animals injured and sick. Animal health is at risk due to lack of shelter and feed and limited access to veterinary services. Production of animal products has been reduced due to stress syndromes and deteriorated health conditions. This affects household consumption and income earning.

Irrigation and Agricultural Infrastructure: If not repaired quickly, damage to small-scale irrigation will have significant negative consequences on crop production in the winter cropping season. Damage to Agricultural and Livestock Service Centre buildings and facilities will seriously affect the ability of extension staff to provide technical services to farmers.

Crop Needs: The most urgent needs for the summer cropping season are clearly seeds and fertilizers, followed by irrigation, tools and technical support. The window for rice planting has almost closed, however there is still time to provide millet and vegetable seeds. Rehabilitation of irrigation will be a critical need for the winter cropping season, as well as barley and wheat seeds.

Livestock needs: The most urgent need is shelter, followed by feed, medicine and vaccinations, and water. Recovery of shelter, support to feed and water access will need to continue beyond the next three months. Restocking of livestock will become necessary and appropriate once the health conditions of surviving animals can be guaranteed and households can access sufficient feeding.

Resilient Livelihood Recovery: In meeting the agricultural needs of communities, interventions should be phased and designed appropriately to support and promote resilient livelihood recovery. This implies to not only focus on the effects of this earthquake but rather have a comprehensive approach to reduce the vulnerability of households to other more frequent hazards, such as landslides, floods, droughts, pests and diseases. Particular awareness should be given to the needs of women farmers and elderly headed households.