Changing climate, changing life

Story of Laxmi Sunar

©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO


Laxmi Sunar wants to provide her daughter with the best possible education so that she can have a bright future. This is Laxmi’s dream; it is the dream that all mothers have for their children. Today though, Laxmi’s main concern is that her family has enough food to eat.

“In the past five years, climate change has affected us. Rain is uncertain. Crops have been damaged by fog and hail stones,” explains Laxmi. “The yields from our crops are a lot less and we don’t have enough food.”

She sometimes goes hungry to give her daughter her share of the food.

©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO

With changing weather patterns and extreme events, Nepal has been hit hard by climate change. With little access to new farming methods or technologies, rural farmers feel these effects the most. Many of them cope with decreased yields by skipping meals, borrowing money at high interest rates or migrating.

“My husband has a big family. To support everyone he had to go abroad to find work. He thought going overseas to earn money would make me happy,” Laxmi describes.

Hoping that migrating to find work would make their lives better, Laxmi’s husband took out a loan to go overseas. Now, most of the money he sends goes towards paying that debt.

“He does not earn much abroad. If we fail to pay interest on time, the money lender fines us the equivalent of double the interest.”

Despite this effort, four years later their lives have not improved. Laxmi is taking care of their farm, livestock and young daughter.

“My daily life is very hard, but I need to do all this to survive,” she states.

©Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos for FAO

"I had a dream to send my daughter to a good school."

FAO has rolled out a project in Nepal to help farmers adapt their farming to the realities of climate change. After a FAO Coordinator came to her village, Laxmi now feels that she has some hope of improving productivity on her farm.

“If we grow our own vegetables, we don’t have to buy them,” she asserts. “The savings can then be used to pay for our daughter’s education.”

Laxmi is one of about 3,000 farmers who are learning new ways of cultivating crops and caring for livestock that can offset some of the impacts of climate change.

Through the project, farmers like Laxmi are now testing different varieties of crops and using new methods to determine the best varieties to grow on their land. They are also learning when and how to feed their animals.

With this project, Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture, FAO and the Global Environment Facility are helping hundreds of women farmers, like Laxmi, to improve their yields and incomes.

By investing in people’s livelihoods, FAO is helping to make migration a choice.

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5. Gender equality, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 13. Climate action