Climate Change Forces Nepal Community to Find New Home

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Climate Change Forces Nepal Community to Find New Home

In 2017, the Nepalese villagers of Samdzong were forced to leave their village due to the effects of climate change.

Samdzong is in the former Kingdom of Mustang, north of the Himalayas, and has run out of water, leaving nothing to sustain their daily needs and those of their animals and crops.

For generations, the people applied traditional farming methods and lived in harmony with nature. However, to ensure their survival and ensure that their tradition and culture remain and even thrive for many generations, the people had no choice but to relocate to a better area.

The people turned to the former King of Mustang to grant them a piece of land to relocate. True enough, the King gave the whole village of 85 people living in 18 houses a new home in Namasung, a 10-hectare extensive lowland on the shore of a small river, one hour’s ride from Mustang’s capital city and three hours’ walk from their old village of Samdzong.

However, their new settlement is not entirely safe from the effects of climate change, which increases the risk of floods, landslides, and droughts in the region. According to a BBC video, the Samdzong villages can only pray to be safe.

Indigenous communities live in geographically sensitive areas such as coasts, rivers, mountains, forests, and islands. Because their way of life relies heavily on the environment, they are at the frontlines and highly vulnerable to climate change effects, even though they contributed the least to GHG emissions.

According to the United Nations, the Samdzong villagers are just one example of the many indigenous communities worldwide impacted by the changing climate. Rising temperatures are accelerating Himalayan glacial melts, affecting communities that depend on its season flow. As the snow cover shrinks, these communities will have less water in the long term.

A study published in Sustainable Earth Reviews in January 2024 examines in depth the climate impacts on Indigenous people and local communities worldwide and how they understand and react to climate change in creative ways, from the Inughuit in Greenland to the Inuit in Canada, the Hutsuls in Romania, the Pai Tavytera in Panama, Daasanach in Kenya, and several other IPs (indigenous people) and local communities around the world.

These IPs draw on traditional knowledge and apply context-specific responses to environmental change grounded in local resources. The study also demonstrates that climate change’s impacts intersect with and exacerbate the historical effects of socioeconomic and political marginalisation.

The authors highlight that Indigenous Peoples and local communities hold extensive, complex, and rich bodies of knowledge and deep-rooted understandings of environment and climate change, but this knowledge is systematically overlooked in climate research and policy, which do not acknowledge the independence and validity of Indigenous and local knowledge.

The study highlights the need to recognise Indigenous Peoples and local communities as legitimate custodians of climate change and its impacts on this vital knowledge. It also recommends that they be acknowledged as critical rights holders to participate in and contribute to climate change decision-making at local and international levels. Any policy recommendations need to be carefully contextualised and co-created with local stakeholders.


How a village in the Himalayas was entirely relocated. (2024, May 1). BBC. Retrieved from

Sam Dzong – a village is relocating. (2014, November 12). Tumblr. Retrieved from

World Habitat Day in pictures: A Nepalese Village moves. (2016, October 4). Medium. Retrieved from

Reyes-García, V., García-Del-Amo, D., Porcuna-Ferrer, A. et al. Local studies provide a global perspective of the impacts of climate change on Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Sustain Earth Reviews 7, 1 (2024).

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